Sometimes both

I’m in a book club that just chose Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s been out for a while, I know. I hadn’t read it.

Here’s the thing: good books should still be good even after the hype passes. There is often a lot of hype about books and movies. Makes me suspicious.

So, I let it pass. And, if I still remember that I kinda wanted to read that book or see that movie, I’ll go seek it out. And I’ll appreciate it on it’s own merits.

I read Eat, Pray, Love by Gilbert when my daughter was newborn. I wanted a book that was good and unchallenging so I could fall asleep quickly while reading.

I can say it was definitely unchallenging.

9 years ago, when I was reading it, I had not yet made a meaningful connection with the New Age (aka woo-woo) concepts that are part of her journey, and what made her think that this journey was such a good idea.

I still haven’t taken a yoga class, although it’s on my list of things to do.

I have become a fan of meditation and spiritual practices like self-acceptance and more.

When I read Eat Pray Love I didn’t really like Gilbert. She was not like me or anyone I knew. In later interviews and TED talks, I started to get to know her and appreciate what she had to say.

I still remembered that she thought going to an Ashram in India was a great idea.

I don’t consider that a good time.

Her novel The Signature of All Things was well written. But not until this book club required it did I set out to read Big Magic.

I was so resistant that I wasn’t willing to pay for it, and found a copy at the local library. I found it right next to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell is problematic too. I enjoyed Outliers a lot, but then again, he was caught plagiarizing. That’s bad.

Now I am in the midst of both books.

Big Magic and Blink both kinda say to trust your gut and listen to your intuition.

Gladwell does it with science, and had a lot of proof in the form of scientific studies.

Gilbert has a lot of feelings and anecdotes.

Maybe it takes people different roads to get to the same destination.

Both of these authors are flawed.

One thing I learned in my literature classes is that the writing does not only exist in the product of the author. Something is created between the author and the reader consuming what has been created.

That third thing, the alchemy between the author’s experiences that led to the creative product, and the reader’s experience that informs what is understood when the book is read is what it’s about.

So, sometimes I want magic: full moon, eye of newt and spells.

Sometimes I want a scientific study, thank you very much.

And maybe sometimes I need a little of both.