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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

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3.9  ·  Rating details ·  98,420 Ratings  ·  8,164 Reviews
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us t ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Riverhead Books (first published September 2015)
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David Lynch We are all scared. Every last one of us experience it daily. Look at my avatar - I'm obviously petrified!

There are two kinds of people: those who feel…more
We are all scared. Every last one of us experience it daily. Look at my avatar - I'm obviously petrified!

There are two kinds of people: those who feel fear and stop in their tracks, and those who feel fear and keep going. The good news is, you can switch to the 2nd kind of person by learning that fear does not equal a stop sign. Fear can also equal excitement.

One of my favorite quotes is "Mastering fear doesn't mean getting rid of the butterflies in your stomach. It means teaching them to fly in formation."(less)
Kate Dana Yes, read it! It is an ideal time to pick it up. Especially if you are a creative person and foresee creative pursuits in your future. The writing…moreYes, read it! It is an ideal time to pick it up. Especially if you are a creative person and foresee creative pursuits in your future. The writing style is very casual and conversational; it's a very easy, fast read. Honestly, I wish this book was around when I was a teen heading to art school and my design career that followed. It would have helped me a lot with many of the dips and dives along the way!(less)

Community Reviews

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Ariel
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
I appreciate and respect Elizabeth Gilbert's attempt to inspire creativity, and can fully see why people could love this and take a lot away from it.. but there were too many fundamental things that I disagreed with/thought were done poorly for me.

1) Creativity as a type of religion: I don't know if "religion" is the right word here, but Gilbert's spiritualization of creativity is saturated in this book. She talks about our need to think of creativity as a spiritual entity, to believe that ideas
...more
Lorilin
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wellness, arc, own
Talk about receiving the right message at the right time. Wow. Big Magic is one of the most honest discussions about the creative process that I’ve ever read. Gilbert strikes a playful and conversational tone, but make no mistake, this is all straight talk. Her no BS attitude helps do away with the unrealistic expectations and unnecessary melodrama attached to the concept of “creative living” (like how she so expertly pish poshes the tormented artist ideal). And in its place, she asks all people ...more
Darth J
Jan 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Preach, Vain, Snore


You know, I didn't enter into this as a "hate-read", despite being such a cynic. I don't like to waste my time and money on things just to have something to snark at (I can already hear the snickering in the audience as I write that). You see, with any of these advice books I actually want to learn something useful; that's the whole reason why I would pick it up in the first place. Despite being utterly let down with her previous book, I genuinely wanted to give this a try, if
...more
Chris Blocker
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it


Is it mere coincidence that BIG is synonymous with FAT and that MAGIC is one of those oblique words difficult to put your finger on, like CHANCE? Because I think that's a better title for this book: Fat Chance. That's the message here: you're gonna fail, you big loser! Where's the big magic in that?

I get it, some artists are confused about the outcomes or reasons for pursuing creative ventures. It's true, most of us are going to fail and fail again. Many of us will eventually give up trying. Gil
...more
Diane
Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for writing this much-needed book on creativity. It was practical, helpful, comforting and inspiring. I know it will be a book I recommend over and over again to writer and artist friends, and anyone else who wants to live a more creative life.

I've been struggling for a week over this review, and I'm still a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes books are so powerful that trying to cobble together a few paragraphs about them seems both trivial and also maddeningly crucial. How
...more
Debbie

Favorite Book of the Year

Where to start? This book knocked my socks off. Which is pretty strange given that I’ve always been a die-hard cynic (with really tight socks). I’ve always rolled my eyes at spirituality and snidely called it woo woo (now I murmur woo woo with affection). And self-help? Please! I don’t need some pompous asshole telling me how to live right, okay? And I wasn’t a fan of Eat, Pray, Love. What a lot of strikes against this one.

So….ta da!! Holy freakin’ toledo! I know I risk
...more
Elyse
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
The message is...."we are all inherently creative".
Elizabeth Gilbert says..."Be an artist. Create for the sake of creating".
"Because creative living is where the Big Magic will always be".
And we paid money for this enlightening information. It's kinda funny to me... how
such an average book, by an average writer, ( acknowledges herself that her ideas
won't resonate with everyone), is such a huge success ---and by that I mean 'money-in-the-bank'. She doesn't have to practice what she preaches.
...more
Nat
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
“I don’t know what I think until I write about it.”― Joan Didion

I was in need of a Nonfiction read to compel me from the start when I came upon Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert starts off this very book by writing about a reclusive poet she’s passionate about (“I loved him dearly from a respectful distance”), and I became swept up in the accessible, talkative writing tone. It's the classic case of 'I should’ve been bored me but instead, I was fascinated.' The author has an eye for telling stories an
...more
da AL
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This & 'The Signature of All Things' are my fave Gilbert books. As the audiobook reader in addition to writer, she does an incredible job of sounding polished, relaxed, & truly encouraging. Read or listen to the end for the 2 best of all her great annecdotes.
Rebecca Foster
With her new book, Gilbert sets herself up as a layman’s creativity guru much like Anne Lamott does with Bird by Bird or Stephen King with On Writing. This is based on Gilbert’s TED talks, and it reads very much like a self-help pep talk, with short chapters, lots of anecdotes, and buzz words to latch onto.

Here’s a taste of some of Gilbert’s main ideas:
• Forget about entitlement; “You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”
• Authenticity is better than originality; after all
...more
Cole
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I underlined something on nearly every page, and my margin notes look like this:

YES YES YES YES YES YES.

I haven't loved everything Gilbert has ever written, but this is one of those books that came into my life at the perfect moment. I say this often (usually about every book I read and enjoy), but I want everyone I love to read this book.
Iris P

Ok so with a little more than 16 hours to end the year, my mind has been officially blown away by Ms.Elizabeth Gilbert, wow!
I am the more surprised because I utterly and unequivocally loathe the "self-help" book category. But what a rewarding reading experience to close what was already a fantastic year in books for me!

Listening to Gilbert's narrate Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear was delightful, she has the most lovely voice and is an excellent narrator, but I decided to also get the Eb
...more
Debbie "DJ"
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I loved this book, and think it's one of the most important I've ever read. I'm one of those who thought I missed the creative gene. That people were just born creative... not true! Gilbert explains how curiosity leads to ideas, and when ideas are paid attention to, true magic can happen. She says, " The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen... everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea..." I love that! Yes, ...more
Whitney Atkinson
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2018
I know this has mixed reviews but I didn't mind it! It's not my new bible or anything but it was definitely a kick to the booty to get going on all the story ideas I have. This touches on important topics about staying humble as an author, writing for the right reasons, persevering, and forming ideas. Although this applies to all creativity, I felt especially attached to this as a writer because she is also a writer.

A debated topic in this book is that Gilbert encourages people not to go to art
...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video featuring this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talks on creativity, more than her books, so I was happy to see her write a book on the topic she seems to think about a lot. Within this book itself she admits that she is writing it in order to explore what she thinks about creativity.

The book seems to be similar to one of those gift books you get when you graduate with highschool, with motivational quotes and pictures, those b
...more
Julie Christine
There could not have been a better time to read Big Magic than in the fraught and anxious, giddy and surreal days before launching my first novel. Gilbert's words soothed and grounded me, took me out of the uncomfortable, jangly headspace of self-promotion and back into the embrace of what it means to be a creative person, why I set forth on this path in the first place.

Fear is boring.
Yes. This. I spent forty-one years (okay, maybe thirty-five; for the first six I was blissfully unaware that I
...more
Dannii Elle
I think I just found my bible.
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I think I'm in love with Elizabeth Gilbert.
Inge
Words will probably never be able to describe the beauty that is Big Magic. People have fawned over it high and low, but it’s one of those things you just need to experience for yourself. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a quilter, a pottery-maker, a dancer, a singer, a circus artist, or anything else that could be considered even remotely creative, you need to pick up this book. You need to read it carefully, slowly, fully, and let it seep into your core. Trust the words. Trust the Magic. (T ...more
Marina
Jan 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star
I decided not to finish this book at about 50% mostly because the level of bullshit reached astronomic proportions; the final straw was Gilbert saying the writing and art are the most useless jobs in the world and hold no merit compared to jobs that actually benefit society. ... and she isn't joking or being ironic. This is a New York Times best selling-author telling me that writing is useless, thankless job. I wonder if she laughed as she typed that.

What Gilbert basically says is: If you’re in
...more
Kate (GirlReading)
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for Big Magic and during the first thirty pages or so, I thought those expectations would be met but unfortunately, as I read on, it just wasn't for me. I didn't personally agree with some of the ideas this book portrayed and Elizabeth Gilbert's voice and ideas just ended up not really resonating with me. I wasn't a fan of the constant name dropping and her idea that art isn't important, necessary or life saving. For example, she mentions how it would be useless during an apocal ...more
Katie
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-don-t-own
Although I didn't connect with everything in this book, overall I found it really inspiring and enjoyed it greatly!
VictoriaNickers
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Basically all the good advise you have ever heard on becoming a productive creative person all in one book. A creative living guide to life by following your happiness. This is definitely a self-help book. It was written for perfectionists and anxiety driven people (like me) and a reality check for everyone else on how to accomplish anything and everything in life. Yes, there is no earth shattering advise in this book. It is mostly common sense. It is about letting go of the excuses and moving ...more
Erin
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
I won this as an ARC in a goodreads giveaway and I appreciate the opportunity to read it in advance of release. However, sad to say, it's very disappointing, and I loved "Eat, Pray, Love." This book is pretty bad. Two stars is generous.
It's just very cheesy from the beginning. There is no real science or logic to the book. It's just Gilbert's ramblings, page after page, ad nauseam, about creativity. The book is really just her writing history, how she was discovered, and why her way is the righ
...more
Faroukh Naseem
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Please get ready for a lot of name dropping and "I believe's..."

“Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment—not entirely human in its origins.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

#theguywiththebookreview presents: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

This is a self-help/motivation book and EG makes sure you know it is, on every single page.

She makes sure she tells you exactly how she 'Humbly disagrees' with an opinion (usually one which has been in existence since a long time
...more
Irena
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was in a reading slump, and no fictional novel helped.
No matter how many times I grabbed a book that sounded interesting, even my to-be-reviewed pile didn't help. In matter of fact, it just got things worse, because everytime I looked at it, I felt like not wanting to read. Period.

That's when I grabbed Big Magic.
And it worked, in a way...
I would probably read it in one day, if I didn't start it in the evening.
But... as soon as I finished it, my reading slump came back.
So I guess this book is m
...more
Jennifer
When I heard Elizabeth Gilbert had a new book out, I had no intention of reading it. Back in the day, I read "Eat, Pray, Love" and had some big issues with it. I haven't read any of Gilbert's work since. Yet, I kept seeing this book *everywhere*. It was like the Sirens composed a new song about this book at kept singing about it trying to lure me in. I caved. Or, maybe you could say that the Big Magic found me.

Instead of representing a voice I wanted to spar with (as in "Eat, Pray, Love") the G
...more
Yodamom
Jan 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF @ 61%
I tried, for 61% I tried. I found a couple quotes from other people that I highlighted but that was it. I never highlighted anything the author wrote. I had to ask myself why am I reading a book where the authors advice is not connecting with me ? Why wasn't it working, several reasons. One was the qualifications of the author, two was the lack of any real actions.
The author, I did not know who she was when I purchased this book, I had not read her Eat Pray Love novel, but had seen it o
...more
Bianca
What a coincidence! Today is Elizabeth Gilbert's birthday. Happy Birthday to her.

I was somewhat reluctant to give this a try, as I wasn't a fan of Eat Pray Love. I did remember that many GR friends appreciated this book. Also, the library audiobook was available for immediate download and it was just over 5hrs long - so that sealed the deal.

I liked lots of things about this book. Creating should be done for the sake of creating and because one needs to create. Everything else on top of that is
...more
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17,068 followers

Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, and her novel Stern Men was a New York Times notable book. Her 2002 book The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award.

Her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, spent 57 weeks in the #1
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“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” 223 likes
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” 193 likes
More quotes…