The things bookish prejudices make us do.
I like to listen to the news on public radio in the mornings but since I am an early riser on the weekends too and the news coverage doesn’t start until 7, I often get stuck listening to all of part or a decidededly non-vegan cooking show on Saturdays and a show on Sunday called “On Being.” For the most part I enjoy “On Being” though sometimes it gets a bit too religious for my preferences.
Several weeks ago I tuned into “On Being” around halway through its 60-minute time slot. The host was talking to a woman about creativity and courage and fear and some other things that got my attention and held my interest. I was nodding along over my coffee and breakfast and wondering who was this person she was talking too. Then, well after I had been hooked, I learned the woman being interviewed was Elizabeth Gilbert.
I know many of you love Gilbert. I, however, for no fault of Gilbert’s own, had decided to not like her long ago when Eat, Pray, Love became such a big success. The book was so successful it seemed that everyone had read it or was reading it and everyone had nothing but good things to say about it. But I stubbornly refused to read the book no matter how many trusted readers raved about it. Everyone was reading it and I had no interest in being part of crowd.
I would like to blame my mom. When I was a kid and would go running to her to ask if I could do something and I would say “but all my friends are …” She would reply with “and if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump too?” When people start jumping, I tend to drag my feet and strike out in a different direction. But it is not fair to cast blame on my mom. I have always had a bit of a stubborn streak which she will happily confirm I am certain.
The prejudice against Gilbert is all my own and it is founded on nothing other than lots of people liked her book Eat, Pray, Love. After hearing her on the radio I decided that maybe I was being a bit rough on her. So I brought home her new book on creativity from the library.
I started reading Big Magic last night and while I am not far, I am enjoying it very much. My enjoyment is not because Gilbert says anything revelatory and new, but it is her tone, her encouraging voice, giving permission to pursue creativity while also acknowledging how scary it is that is appealing. I am not going crazy over the book, she goes a bit too far in the magical wonder thing for me to be completely won over. My prejudice against her is, nonetheless, slipping away. This does not mean I am going to rush out and read her other books, but I think I will be more amenable to considering reading other books she writes in the future.