“I love going back again and again to philosopher Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, which were published in the 2nd century AD when he was a Roman Emperor. The writing is drawn from his private journals, and it’s so beautiful and reassuring. I wrote about Meditations in Big Magic; there’s something I find really comforting about reading the frustrations of a Roman Emperor having writer’s block. He’s trying to get himself off the dime, and he’s saying ‘Come on Marcus, just try to write one page today. You can do it.’ It’s so great to see that the struggle to get out of your own way is not a new battle.”
Leaves of Grass and Selected Poems and Prose
“I absolutely love Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman’s great collection of poetry. This is a book which you can open to any page and read like scripture. It’s always inspiring to me.”
In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert muses about creativity and its deep roots within human existence. She identifies creativity as the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration, or, in other words: “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.”
The author of Eat, Pray, Love and City of Girls does a deep dive into her own process and others’, all the while pinpointing those things that may keep us from bringing forth our treasures—things like fear, or a lack of trust or persistence. Dotted throughout Big Magic are stories of other creatives who took leaps of faith, got past writer’s block, or gave themselves permission to endeavor a project that was off their well-worn path.
Here, Elizabeth Gilbert shares the five books she returns to when she needs a boost of creative inspiration or unbridled joy. Whatever your artistic pursuit, read them and allow yourself to discover your own strange jewels, just itching to be unearthed.
Author Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders