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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear Paperback – September 27, 2016

4.5 4.5 out of 5 stars 21,380 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Big Magic: 

The instant #1 New York Times Bestseller

Big Magic is a celebration of a creative life…Gilbert’s love of creativity is infectious, and there’s a lot of great advice in this sunny book…Gilbert doesn’t just call for aspiring artists to speak their truth, however daffy that may appear to others; she is showing them how.” —Washington Post

"In [Gilbert’s] first foray into full-on self-help [she] shares intimate glimpses into the life of a world-famous creative, complete with bouts of paralyzing fear and frustration, in an attempt to coax the rest of us into walking through the world just a little bit braver.”  

Eat, Pray, Love author demystifies the tricky business of creativity. We’re all ears.” —Cosmopolitan

“Elizabeth Gilbert is my new spirit animal… I have profoundly changed my approach to creating since I read this book." —Huffington Post

“Gilbert leads readers through breaking out of their own creative ruts, finding fulfillment, and facing fear while finding balance between our spiritual and pragmatic beings in her forth coming book. Yes, please.”

Big Magic will resonate with writers and artists who find the process of producing work to be particularly painful…Through anecdotes about her creative failures and resourcefulness, as well as those other artists, Gilbert encourages readers to pursue a creative life ‘that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." —Daily Beast

"Gilbert demystifies the creative process, examining the practices of great artists to shed light on finding inspiration in the every day.” —Harper’s Bazaar
“Part inspiration, part how-to, it offers up both a philosophy of creativity and advice for living a more creatively fulfilling life.”—Fast Company

Big Magic tackles the challenges of living the creative life…Reading it is a little like having a coach by your side, cheering on your efforts – whatever they are – candidly and selflessly.” –Christian Science Monitor

“Gilbert [writes] with sincerity and humility about the joy that creativity has given her... If you enjoyed
Eat Pray Love, if you are drawn to self-help or inspirational books, or if you just like to bask in another person’s positive glow, you’ll love Big Magic.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Big Magic wants to help its readers live creatively…[Gilbert believes] creativity is inside all of us, it should be expressed, and it is not selfish or crazy or foolish to do so – it is in fact the best way to live a satisfying life...[Big Magic] constitutes good advice…[in a voice that’s] charming, personable, self-aware, jokey, conversational….[and] that Gilbert does so well.” —New York Times Book Review

“A lucid and luminous inquiry into the relationship between human beings and the mysteries of the creative experience… What makes her book so immensely helpful is precisely its lived and living nature…wholly electrifying.”
"Gilbert tackles heavy, sensitive subject matter but keeps it light, making what's essentially a self-help book feel like a good talk with a friend rather than a sermon."
—Associated Press

“Gilbert’s trademark warmth and enthusiasm abounds...wise...[and] pointed." —Boston Globe

“Part pat-on-the-back, part slap-in-the-face, [Big Magic is] a permission slip for readers to stop making excuses and get to work… a fresh and modern surprise that fans of her work will relish."
—Wichita Eagle

“Funny. Insightful. Honest. Irreverent...But, of course, most of us have read Gilbert before and these qualities find their way into all of her works. The particular form of magic in 
Big Magic comes in a very unusual wrapping: hope and love...Big Magic read[s] like a devotional. Like a love letter to the earnest artist inside most of our hearts.” —Books and Whatnot

“Distinctly refreshing." —TED Ideas Blog

“Big Magic will leave you feeling inspired to be curious, brave, free, and, most of all, creative.” -Lauren Conrad

"Full of chatty advice, pep talks, amusing and inspiring stories...Gilbert’s idea of living creatively may incorporate touches of magic, but she’s practical in the extreme.” —Miami Herald

“In her signature conversational style, both sassy and serious, Gilbert invokes high- and low-brow cultural references and recommends we channel our inner trickster… [Her] manifesto is a book to read through quickly, and then start again to discover any big magic you may have missed.” – KMUW

"Big Magic ripples with Gilbert’s enthusiasm, choice metaphor, and humor." -LitHub

“Gilbert will completely change the way you think about the creative process.”—

“The writing here is so friendly and funny that Gilbert’s perspective on creative living goes down like lemonade in summer."

“From the deeply self-aware, poetically gifted author of
Eat, Pray, Love comes... the best nonfiction book I’ve read in years. For anyone who's ever struggled with feeling worthy to express themselves through art, or been discouraged by the absence of inspiration, I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this book might just change your life.” —Mind Body Green

“Inspirational… Big Magic provides a guidebook for anyone wanting to live a more creative life. You don’t have to be an artist to get value out of this book; it is for anyone who wants to live with more joy, love, happiness, and abundance in their world.”—YAHOO! SHOPPING

“Gilbert, author of the wildly successful memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” and a successful novelist (“The Signature of All Things”) offers her prescriptions for unlocking the creativity within.”
—Seattle Times

“Whatever your artistic pursuit, you’ll nod in agreement as Elizabeth Gilbert reflects on the elusive, frustrating and sometimes comically strange process of creativity. Thoughtful and funny, Gilbert makes an excellent case for doing whatever it takes to unlock your inner artist and find more joy in life.” —
Woman's Day

“What Gilbert’s offering her fans…[is] permission to be creative…[She] is interested in the importance of creativity for the individual’s soul…When you hear the people who want to create, and the gratitude they feel toward [her], you can’t help feeling that she’s healed them—that she has, in fact, become the kind of guru she once sought.” —
The New Yorker, on the "Magic Lessons" podcast series
“The latest from Gilbert is all about you—that’s 268 pages of practical advice for tapping into your own creativity... Consider her your own personal life coach.”—
Marie Claire
"A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life... I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.”

“Elizabeth Gilbert is an exceptionally gifted author…and this book is remarkable…. It is so densely packed with pearls of wisdom that I read it once for pleasure, and then again to unpack and outline the text just like I used to do in college…A must-read for anyone on the creative spectrum, from those who don’t think there is a creative bone in their body to those who make a living from their artistic expression.” –
Yakima Herald

“Reading Big Magic is the next best thing to hiring Elizabeth Gilbert [as your] coach.”—PARNASSUS BOOKS

“A joyful ride through the enigmatic jungle of creative existence… [
Big Magic] is not just about the production of artistic works but about building a life that nurtures the creative being in all of us.”—CREATIV Magazine

Big Magic [is ]… fearless of voice and heart-opening in authenticity; in short, a book worthy of its name." —Literary Inklings

“A conversational, intimate glimpse into Gilbert’s process and philosophy, as personable as a confab over coffee… essential reading for anyone who wants to live a larger life, filled with more ideas, more projects, and more fulfillment…Big Magic is powerful stuff.” –
Barnes & Noble Blog

“A book-length meditation on inspiration.” —

“Whether you long to write the great American novel or you just want to be more present and mindful in your daily life, you can find plenty of inspiration in this self-help tome… … the can-do, optimistic tone makes for an uplifting read.” –All You Magazine

"[Gilbert will] make you feel giddy about creation." –Medium

"Gilbert mines her writer's career to provide unique, inspiring and constructive insights on how to navigate the wild ride that is the creative life...
 Her charming nuggets are wise, comforting and ultimately encouraging." –

“Gilbert offers helpful suggestions for outwitting writer’s block and perfectionism...and lets a tart sense of humor emerge." -
Columbus Dispatch

“Anyone living with some manifestation of writer’s block (or any other artistic variant of such affliction) will find [Gilbert's] sage advice is effectively a worthwhile kick in the butt… Without the smallest hint of narcissism, the mega-bestselling author shares the pinnacles and pitfalls of failure and success and how to wrangle the criticism, inside and out.”—
Steamboat Pilot & Today

“Gilbert sweetly yet powerfully nudges readers to release fear, summon courage and allow the ‘strange jewels’ hidden within each of us to emerge and shine. The end result is the ‘big magic’… Engaging storytelling mixed with personal anecdotes and astute insights make Big Magic a rewarding, motivating and delightful read.” —Sucess Magazine

“There's nothing hippie-dippy about Gilbert's raw, honest, and downright hilarious observations of her own creative plight...This isn't a How-To guide for creative living; this is the story of how one woman simply figured things out for herself, and learned how to live in harmony with her own creative soul. All can find a kind of solemn peace and reassurance in her words.”
-Everyday eBook

“A transformative nonfiction treatise on creativity…Filled with her signature humor, big-heartedness, wild vulnerability and wisdom, Gilbert delivers a vibrant and inspirational book.” -About Town Magazine

"A booster that will help you out of any rut.” -Kansas City Star

"The author of
Eat Pray Love, who has already changed so many lives, now looks to change thinking on creativity." -The New York Daily News

“Worth a read for any artist struggling for some peace and quiet in a head bursting with creativity."
– Bustle, Included in “9 Books To Help You Find Inner Peace”

"Some might call Elizabeth Gilbert by the name Queen Midas … Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. A rare gift, this book acknowledges difficulty, but empowers its readers to transcend it in the name of the beautiful mysteries of existence.” —
WNC Woman Magazine

“A magnificent guide to how to be creative…[and] a heartfelt gem… I simultaneously wanted to quickly turn the page to see what was next while savoring the advice on each page… Gilbert is determined to guide you into the light. Go with her.” —
Jersey Journal

"Irresistible…If creativity is something you value highly—both in others and as fundamental to your own existence—you should find much to love in
Big Magic, whether or not you typically gravitate toward creativity guides.” —Chapter 16

"A non-fiction tour-de force...pragmatic, rational, and wholly convincing." —
Reader's Digest UK

“A treasure map to unleash your most creative and expressive life.” –Marie TV

Big Magic seeks to both inspire you and strip you of any excuse to not pursue your creative interests…[it’s] passionate, down-to-earth and bursting with Gilbert’s obvious love for the subject matter and her readers… a delight to read.” –Pop Mythology 

“An empathetic and inspiring guide to mustering the courage to live a creative life. … Nearly anyone who picks up this self-help manual should finish it feeling inspired, even if only to dream of a life without limits.”
 —Publisher's Weekly (starred review) 

"Gilbert serves as an enthusiastic coach for readers who want more out of life. Highly recommended." —
Library Journal (starred review)

“Gilbert’s wise and motivating book of encouragement and advice will induce readers not only to follow specific artistic dreams but also to live life more creatively, fully, and contentedly.” –

"The sincerity, grace, and flashes of humor that characterize [Gilbert’s] writing and insights should appeal to a wider audience…warmly inspirational.” —


About the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big MagicEat Pray Love, and The Signature of All Things, as well as several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her latest novel, City of Girls, comes out in June, 2019. 

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Publishing Group; Reprint edition (September 27, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1594634726
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1594634727
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.54 x 0.84 x 8.24 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 4.5 out of 5 stars 21,380 ratings

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Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collection, Pilgrims—a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper's Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
21,380 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 15, 2022
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2.0 out of 5 stars Why the hype??
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 15, 2022
With a title like “Big Magic” I guess I was expecting profound life changing advice to totally rock my world, but for me, this one was a huge flop! I’ve seen this book before that came across my Amazon suggestions, but when I saw it being highly recommended in a paint party business group I signed up for, I felt like it was a sign that I had to order it especially after reading the reviews and informational interviews with the artist on YT.
So I ordered this book after hearing some of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talks about her book and hearing so many profound ‘ah-ha!!’ moments that convinced me that I HAD to get this book and read more hoping that the full content would be 1000x better than just what I heard. Well, I finally received this today and read it within 2 hrs time front to back and was sadly disappointed!!
I’m not sure what it I was that didn’t do it for me with this one, but it didn’t meet anywhere’s close to my expectations despite what I heard from the author and its reviews before I actually read the book. I sort of found it annoying and was waiting for it to get better, but for me, it just never got to that point. I hate starting a book and not finishing it in case my disappointment was due to something I had missed in the parts I never read.
I also found it kind of weird there was no intro and the book just starts in with what is supposed to be chapter one. The chapters/parts kind of jump around, but still tie into and bounce off of each other back and forth a little. The author mentions that this book wasn’t written for her audience, but for her (as our work should be done for) which may be why it’s written in the structure it was-who knows. I find it weird that a book not meant for its viewers be published for viewers to read that specifically mentions it wasn’t written for viewers to read in its content.
One of the parts that annoyed me was that the chapters started weird and a few of them started with the word “also” making a point to start a new chapter, but still banking off the previous sub-chapter’s point, make me feel like it shouldn’t have been broken up like that.
While I don’t mean to sound mean here, because I still commend her bravery to keep on being so determined to get her work selected and trudging on through so many “no” rejections and while I understand her point in explaining why it was so important to include that in her book (to reiterate the importance of being persistent), I can honestly see why her writing style many not have been chosen for so long. If this book is anywhere like her other books, I have a hard time trying to wrap my head around how her other book “Eat, Pray, Love” got so famous.
One of the other poor reviews this book got, mentions that maybe it’s not geared towards those who are already creative which might have been why I didn’t find it so appealing, but then the book mentions that we are ALL creative beings so that shouldn’t matter much to make or break this book for me.
This book did leave me with a few ‘yeah, that DOES make a good point, one I really never thought of like that!’ thoughts just like with the videos I saw with her speaking, but that’s about it. I feel like I got far more out of the videos about her talking about the book than I did the book. From the reviews, I honestly felt like this would be highlighting the crap out of it with profound points left and right as much as the reviews hyped up this book to by, which is why I invested in the hardcover copy, but not once did this leave me even thinking to grab my highlighter or dog-ear the pages. In many parts I just hung around waiting to get over with the boring parts to get to the really good stuff that didn’t really come.
After reading the cover jacket info on the book, I honestly didn’t feel like this book lived up to the expectation of what it promised. I also feel like this maybe should have been a sequel to her other book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (which I have not read and know nothing of what it’s really about) with as many times as she mentioned it in this book. I’m not sure if that book is better or worse than this one, but I honestly feel as though if a book IS meant to be a sequel to another book you’ve written, then you probably shouldn’t base your other books around them if you want them to speak for themselves. I feel like just because you have ‘made it’ with one book, doesn’t mean you should piggy-back your other books off of them especially if they don’t have anything to do with each other.
I feel like my biggest disappointment with this book was *because*I*do* struggle with fear being a creative and hoped this book would offer better ways to over come that. I know the book was supposed to be geared more towards ‘creative people’ with her term “artist” being used a lot, but I find it kind of annoying when the whole book was more so about her writing journey, leaving me feeling like she was speaking more towards writers than actual art-artists or creative people as a whole. I know it can be applied across the board of creatives, but the over reference of her writing examples was a turn off. I would have loved to hear more of those general creative experiences applied to what she was talking about and less about how her writing made it into a learning experience to teach us.
Idk how many times I found myself thinking that this book would be better gifted to my son who struggles more with the issues this book was supposed to help with. Much of the advice in it, ha been much of what I have suggested to him over the years. Being a book hoarder and saying I wouldn’t keep this book, says a lot because I have a hard to like giving away or even loaning my books out even if I didn’t like them that much. I would much rather purchase a second copy and keep mine to give someone else, so to say this book IS one I would give away because it would be far more useful in someone else’s hands than sitting on my shel to possibly reread down the line somewhere by me, says a lot on how much I didn’t care for it. I’m not sure how this book got so many good reviews and it honestly left me feeling like I totally missed something here with this one!!
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26 people found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 5, 2023
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Top reviews from other countries

Dolly Cupcake
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive & sadly doesn’t grab me
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 4, 2018
121 people found this helpful
Janie U
1.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive and thin on practical advice - but I still love the author!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 4, 2019
48 people found this helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sympathisch, aber unwissenschaftlich und etwas absurd
Reviewed in Germany 🇩🇪 on June 11, 2020
40 people found this helpful
Leanne Rees
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a must read for me
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 28, 2022
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Daniel HY Ng
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 19, 2022
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