Y’all know by now that I am a self-help book junkie. After being waitlisted for so long I forgot they were even on my library’s waitlist, I finally got The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In a fun surprise, Gilbert actually mentions Manson as one of her favorite bloggers and uses one of his posts in her book. Super cool to get some reading synchronicity like that, particularly since Overdrive auto-checked out both books to me at the same time.
Anyway, both books brought a lot of really good thinking and talking points. Manson’s book is honestly like having a super in depth life conversation with your super drunk frat-boy friend, except you’re not drunk and he’s making a lot of really good points. Yes, the language is over the top, even for me, but that’s part of the book’s magic. As you read, you totally get the feeling that Manson is speaking to you and that’s EXACTLY how he talks. As the book progresses and gets into deeper and finer points, Manson tones the language down a bit, but still manages to throw in some random-ass sayings that only a total drunk-ass would come up with. The last chapter did feel a bit weird and out of place, it probably should have been edited out, but overall I loved this book and think the key to enjoying it is to approach it the same way you’d approach the bar patio picnic table that is currently home to your very drunk friend…with your favorite beer, some fries, and an open mind.
Big Magic, while totally different from The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, had the same one-on-one convo vibe. Although instead of having a convo with your super drunk frat boy friend, this convo is with a beloved mentor/friend who is giving you all of the advice they’ve stored up for 50 years, almost like a retirement speech. At the end of the book, Gilbert mentions that Big Magic was inspired by her Ted Talk, which really should have been part of the intro or first chapter, as Big Magic TOTALLY reads like a bunch of Ted Talks instead of connected chapters. So while you read Manson’s book with a beer and fries, Big Magic requires some fruity tea in a delicate cup and scones. Or mimosas and poppy seed muffins….(or maybe I’m just hungry…anyway…moving on…). I really appreciated Gilbert’s take on inspiration (you just gotta move in some sort of direction (any direction!) and inspiration will follow), how you don’t always need a college degree before you can become great (just start creating!), and perfection (the enemy of progress!). When read as multiple Ted Talks bound into a single book, Big Magic is great for quick tips and tricks on motivation, inspiration and short bursts of Gilbert’s own life.
Which brings me to the Amazon reviews for these two books. While both are highly rated, I was amused by several of the reviews that gave 2 stars. One reviewer gave Gilbert’s book 2 stars because the author wears perfume, which is bad for the environment or animals or something (who knows, the review was rambly and random!). It was such a bizarre review, considering that was literally one line in the entire book and Gilbert was only mentioning how when she loses inspiration, she gets herself all fancied up, which in her case includes lipstick and perfume, as a way to attract inspiration. It’s quite good advice, as most fitness gurus will tell you that putting on your workout clothes will essentially force you out the door on days when you don’t want to work out. It just cracked me up that someone would focus on a single point and miss so many other fantastic points in a book. Definitely a review written by a small picture person.
For Manson’s book, many of the 2 star reviews were “due to vulgar language”. Seriously, if you pick up a book with a title like “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and then you get offended by the language inside the book, it is totally your own fault, as the title was a very LARGE clue to the personality of the author.
In an interesting twist, both books got a lot of reviews that said something like “this book is full of advice for younger people”. I can see this being true for Manson’s book, my Grandma probably wouldn’t get as much out of it as my brother, but Gilbert’s book felt a lot less directed towards a specific market. Big Magic seemed to be geared towards creatives of all ages looking for some friendly advice. Many reviewers seemed upset that neither book offered any practical steps towards not giving a F*ck or finding their own magic, however if you read between the lines, the magic of these books comes from the fact that they don’t give you a cookie cutter recipe to follow. Sort of like some modern day Mr. Miagi randomness that you have to figure out for yourself.
If you are looking for some practical steps, Big Magic would pair well with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck would pair well (ironically, I know) with Brene Brown’s Rising Strong or The Gifts of Imperfection.
That’s all for today, so until next time, happy reading!