Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

“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 and introducing people, as I noticed the further I read on.

I was officially won over when she exposed her earlier years riddled with fear. Unlike a lot of self-help books I read in the past, the author in here actually offered up a lot of specific advice and dared to venture into her easily scared childhood to give examples of things that petrified her, so that we could see that she wasn’t all talk and no show.

“My fear was a song with only one note—only one word, actually—and that word was “STOP!” My fear never had anything more interesting or subtle to offer than that one emphatic word, repeated at full volume on an endless loop: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!”
Which means that my fear always made predictably boring decisions, like a choose-your-own-ending book that always had the same ending: nothingness.
I also realized that my fear was boring because it was identical to everyone else’s fear. I figured out that everyone’s song of fear has exactly that same tedious lyric: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!” True, the volume may vary from person to person, but the song itself never changes, because all of us humans were equipped with the same basic fear package when we were being knitted in our mothers’ wombs.”

Her honest and raw take on such a close topic to my heart made me bond with her.

And this fearsome line thrown at fear was utterly exquisite to read:

“There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.”

But I considered Big Magic a truly successful read for me when I was finally moved to open up a new document and release over 1K words in a sitting before I’d even finished reading. The author really has a way with words so that I can give “this creative endeavor my wholehearted effort.”

Also, her recalling the “exhilarating encounter between a human being and divine creative inspiration” by showing the story behind Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and her subtle connection to it was something else entirely.

“There’s no logical explanation for why this occurs. How can two people who have never heard of each other’s work both arrive at the same scientific conclusions at the same historical moment? Yet it happens more often than you might imagine. When the nineteenth-century Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai invented non-Euclidean geometry, his father urged him to publish his findings immediately, before someone else landed on the same idea, saying, “When the time is ripe for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”

The kick in the butt I need because I keep thinking I have all the time in the world to write.

As well as this next passage that touches on putting her work out there and her subsequent rejection letters:

“I knew that nobody was ever going to knock on my apartment door and say, “We understand that a very talented unpublished young writer lives here, and we would like to help her advance her career.” No, I would have to announce myself, and so I did announce myself. Repeatedly. I remember having the distinct sense that I might never wear them down—those faceless, nameless guardians of the gate that I was tirelessly besieging. They might never give in to me. They might never let me in. It might never work.
It didn’t matter.”

“Recognizing this reality—that the reaction doesn’t belong to you—is the only sane way to create. ”

I will admit, however, that there were a couple of minor hindrances to my overall enjoyment of the book. It mostly turned out to be so when the advice wasn’t applicable to my current situation or when it was an argument already repeated numerous times before.

If anything, the most cherished lesson I took from Big Magic was to pay closer attention to all the noise in my head. Sometimes taking a step back and listening intuitively to my thought process was the solution to releasing myself from a burden. Simply put, the author reassured me to trust myself in “following the trail of curiosity”.

One of the most exciting moments, however, came when I finally found the mastermind behind one of my favorite sayings shared online that I couldn’t trace back. It goes as follows:

“Long ago, when I was in my insecure twenties, I met a clever, independent, creative, and powerful woman in her mid-seventies, who offered me a superb piece of life wisdom.
She said: “We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.”

I’ve repeated this last line one too many times in the past year, so it was worth coming across this read just to make the connection!

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Big Magic, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: The Little Book of Feminist Saints by Julia Pierpont

This is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for in terms of feminist collections. I mentioned before in my reviews for equally striking books (Bad Girls Throughout History & Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls) how I’m not keen on Wikipedia-esque entries, instead, I prefer anecdotes that bring the women back to life through words. And oh, how Julia Pierpont delivered with The Little Book of Feminist Saints.

“These entries are not meant to serve as short biographies, summaries of each woman’s life that could just as easily be found online. I tried, instead, in my daily research, to zero in on the colorful, the anecdotes I would find myself repeating to a friend that night.”

My most important thing with these collections is that I want to educated myself on something new in an engaging way, without feeling like I’m reading a textbook. And because The Little Book of Feminist Saints focused on telling witty stories that captured the spirit of each woman, there wasn’t ever a case of reading the same repeated history lesson, especially with the more well-known personalities. I got enlightened on so many phenomenal sheroes over the course of the book, and I had the most fun doing so.

This read also managed to pack many experiences into a short amount of pages. Ranging from leading ladies, philosophers, readers, dreamers, travelers, athletes, students, and rebels.

Speaking of which, here were some of the noteworthy women I was very in tune with that I’d like to highlight:

1. Oprah: Matron Saint of Every Home.The Little Book of Feminist Saints 1-- bookspoils“She connected with audiences because she knew people, and she let them know her.”

2. Yayoi Kusama: Matron Saint of VisionariesThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 2-- bookspoils“The visions started in childhood—flowers would talk to her; the floor would disappear.”

3. Gloria Steinem: Matron Saint of SisterhoodThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 3-- bookspoils“There was something,” she remarked, “about seeing women tell the truth about their lives in public, and seeing women take seriously something that only happens to women. In my experience, things were only taken seriously if they also happened to men.”

4. Maya Angelou: Matron Saint of StorytellersThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 4-- bookspoils“In times of strife and extreme stress, I was likely to retreat to mutism. Mutism is so addictive. And I don’t think its powers ever go away.”

5. Rachel Carson: Matron Saint of Future GenerationsThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 5-- bookspoils“The threat is infinitely greater to the generations unborn; to those who have no voice in the decisions of today, and that fact alone makes our responsibility a heavy one.”

6. Katharine Hepburn: Matron Saint of Leading LadiesThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 6-- bookspoils“As one goes through life,” she wrote in her memoirs, “one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.”

7. Anne Frank: Matron Saint of DiariestThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 7-- bookspoils8. Frida Kahlo: Matron Saint of ColorThe Little Book of Feminist Saints 8-- bookspoils


The Little Book of Feminist Saints exceeded all my expectations, thanks to both the striking illustrations by Manjit Thapp that set the tone for what to expect, and the accompanying anecdotes written to the strengths of our leading ladies.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: March 6th 2018

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Little Book of Feminist Saints, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

The Beautiful Book Covers Tag

“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.” 
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The last tag I did on my blog was back in March, when I created part two to my original Skam book tag, so it felt like the perfect time to answer and add a new one to the archives. This tag was created by theheavyblanks on Youtube.

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just scroll down to the books at the end to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

1. Choose five of the most beautiful books in your collection.

The yellow aesthetic is naturally strong in this one.

*Note on the cover of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul: I chose the beautifully fan-made cover by the talented Gillian Goerz, instead of the originally published one.

2. Choose a beautiful book that features your most favorite color.

Pink, pink, pink in all its splendor and glory. I have a whole Goodreads shelf dedicated to my pink covers, which you can check out here.

P.S. You know you’re having way too much fun with a tag when you can’t decide on just one book.

3. Choose a beautiful book that features your least favorite color.

Orangey-brown hues tend to least attract me to book covers, but with the above two I can stare for hours on end at the detailing. With Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am in particular because of those background sentences you cannot help but try to make sense of.

4. Choose your favorite cover of a classic.the-handmaids-tale-bookspoilsThe cover for this timeless piece of fiction can be summed up in one word: grandiose.

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.” 

5. Choose your favorite cover of a children’s book.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls-- bookspoilsI simply had to give this empowering collection a spotlight. I read and reviewed it earlier this year and have been on the search ever since for more feminist reads like it.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, and I would highly recommend it for all ages! You’re never too young or old to start on your path through feminist history.

6. Do you often buy books based solely on a beautiful cover?

To put it simply: Yes. Whether I’m buying or borrowing from the library, the cover plays a pretty big role in my decision making. However, what usually makes or breaks the final cut is the first sentence/ chapter of said book.

7. Out of every book that you own, which book best exemplifies your idea of a beautiful book.

My personal definition of an ultimate beautiful book cover is one that makes me feel wistful while looking at it. Like Noora Sætre below:tumblr_ohcqbqculy1r3ssslo3_500So far the only book that’s succeeded at creating that effect is one I have a long history with: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.Fangirl-- bookspoilsI probably wouldn’t have discovered my love for reading back in 2014, if it hadn’t been for the phenomenal characters Rainbow Rowell created in here. So looking at that cover always makes me reminisce about so many things, including my favorite scenes from the book, which I talk about extensively in my review here .


And that’s a wrap on all my answers for the Beautiful Covers book tag. If you’re interested in answering these questions, I tag you.

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just click on the books below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!