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The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion Hardcover – April 7, 2015
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Elizabeth Gilbert, author Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things
"Elle's infectious enthusiasm will inspire you to do the boldest thing you can in life: be your true self."
Evan Williams, co-founder Twitter; founder Medium
"How to turn that invisible inner fire into fuel for soul-warming bliss is what artist and designer Elle Luna explores in her essay-turned-book The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion — an intelligent and rousing illustrated manifesto that picks up where Campbell left off, in the spirit of Parker Palmer’s emboldening guide to letting your life speakand Debbie Millman’s visual-essay-turned-commencement-address on courage and the creative life"
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
The Miami Herald
"This artist and author's inspiring advice might just persuade you to leave your day job."
“This was the most inspiring book I read in 2015. It's an illustrated, easy read based on a blog post that went viral, but the inspirational message it contains is very powerful. It's a must-read for anyone considering shaking up the status quo or following a dream and how to deal with the real-life consequences that follow."
The Huffington Post
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For those who hadn’t read Elle’s essay, “The Crossroads of Should and Must” is about helping people overcome societal obligations and other barriers in order to achieve their passion. I don’t think the book breaks any new psychological ground, but what’s distinctive about it is the style. This isn’t a book filled with prose. Instead, it’s actually a piece of art. Every page has unique drawings, colorful script, markings, etc. It really drives home the optimistic message and definitely makes it more memorable.
That said, the very design of the book tells you much about its intended audience – artists. Elle seems to be talking primarily to struggling artists. The examples she mentions are Picasso, Philip Glass, John Grisham, etc. Many of her ideas for finding your “must” involve paints, paper, etc. Computers are bad. If your “must” is to become a doctor, a president, etc., you’ll probably find that this book doesn’t speak to you as much. For me, I was looking at a writing career, so I probably fell within the target audience, but barely.
I was also a bit surprised that, aside from the author’s own story, all of the examples in the book were of famous people. I know for me that one of the most intimidating aspects of “getting to must” is the recognition that I’ll probably never measure up the greats in my calling. Why try if you can only pale in comparison? I know as an aspiring artist I wouldn’t want Picasso as a standard. Instead, I’d like to learn more about how ordinary people found their “must.” What does it mean to have found your calling but to not become a celebrity in your field? That’s much more relatable and in many ways manageable.
Quibbles aside, this book did help me. I’m going to take some of its advice to heart and hopefully start finding my calling. I don’t know if it’ll work, but I can recommend this as a short, easy read that might change your life.
I begrudgingly have to admit that, despite this, the book was actually helpful. The thoughts it brought to my mind surprised me, and I can honestly say I have a better idea now of what I could do as a job versus what my calling is. And it was difficult to admit what that calling is, so I'm grateful to this book for the help.
I bought the book during a sale for less than 2 dollars, and its small size combined with its corniness would definitely make me regret the purchase if I had gotten it for full price. If you do find it on sale, however, and are willing to ignore some cringe-worthy expressions, you might find some surprisingly helpful advice here.
The bad. The book is really short, has a lot of sort of cheap filler quotations that aren't even that original. So while it can be inspirational, it's not really worth $10 bucks if you are looking for something longer with more depth. In this case, I'd go for Julia Cameron's "The Artist Way." Same ideas, but better writing (beautiful writing) and an entire 12 week program of embracing your Musts, whatever that may mean to you. Seriously, it's a good book, life changing. And I don't think it's much more than this book.
The ugly. The author's premise is that life offers you two choice, Must and Should. Must is what we are inspired to do, it's almost as if the Universe is constantly nudging us toward it. The Should is what we do because others expect it of us or because it makes sense practically. As, I read this book, it really didn't seem likely that writing it was "A Must" for the author. It reads like a practical opportunity to make some extra money from an article she wrote that was perhaps truly inspiring. It doesn't even feel like she put much effort or enthusiasm into it. The original article may have been a "Must," but the book definitely reads like a "Should."