It may come as a surprise, but self-help books aren’t usually my thing. With all my neurosis and anxiety issues, you might think I would have my own little reading nook in the self-help aisle at the library or that people would just leave them on my doorstep, but not so much. Because why read something that might help you not worry about imaginary problems? Why would you want to stop having to touch the iron and then the outlet the iron gets plugged into five times everyday before you leave the house? (I swear, it will plug itself back up one day. It will.) Those are just super fun things to do! Right? OK, so not really. Maybe it’s that realization that has suddenly made me stop rolling my eyes when I think about picking up a self-help book. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Regardless of the reason, I have found myself slowly wading into the self-help section with skeptical optimism (is that a thing?) as of late. This is how I found myself checking out a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic a few weeks ago.
Side note: I actually owe my best friend an apology since I discovered the author of this book also wrote Eat, Pray, Love and I had recently scoffed at her when she said she was thinking about reading it. Consider my public apology issued.
If you’re interested, the full title is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Since I’m afraid of most things, I figured it was a great book to start with. Plus, the cover art and font are nice. Good job, design department!
I actually found Big Magic quite helpful. It’s all about helping yourself remember what you love to create and reminding you to go out and do it just for the sake of doing it. The whole “the process is it’s own reward” line of thinking. So, yes, it resonated with someone who spends their spare time writing a blog just to be able to write something.
Oddly enough, what I loved about the book seems to be what a bunch of people want to complain about. They thought they were actually picking up something that would teach them how to create and make money from it. This is very much not that book. Gilbert starts off very quickly letting you know that and tells you early on that you will never be happy if you look at what you love to do only as a paycheck. This didn’t come as a shock to me. I have a degree in print journalism and spent a lot of time in the art room during high school, so I already had the nugget of wisdom that art in any form does not equal cash in most circumstances.
Gilbert’s thought is that ideas are actual living things just waiting for the right person to come along, make them whole and nurture them. I’m not sure I’m quite far enough in the self-help world to fully embrace that idea, but I can appreciate where it comes from. She wants you to find what you’re passionate about and pursue it just because of that passion. Write that novel! Plant the best damn herb garden you can! Make that macaroni necklace! Her realistic enthusiasm is contagious and by the end I actually did find myself a little more appreciative of things like being able to sit down and write or my occasional Saturday night craft time.
It also has just enough F-bombs sprinkled throughout to cut the sappiness. Those are important to keep a person like me reading your self-help book.
So, Big Magic turned out to be a perfect first foray into the genre for me. Sure, it’s a little hokey here and there, but overall it’s a nice, quick read that’s perfect to help get you excited about whatever it is you enjoy creating again.
OK, so now I’ve dipped my toe into this idea of a healing pool of reading. I’ve started Super You by Emily Gordon and have Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking on deck. Any other suggestions?