book review

Scrapbooking in the Media: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” . . . We’re Makin’ This SBR

Technically, I only talk about scrapbooking books or novels here. I mean, it’s called Scrapbook Obsession after all :P

But I broke from tradition not long ago to write this post and now I’m about to do it again. This time I’m talking about “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert. We’re going to take a mainstream non-fiction book and make it scrapbook-related (SBR).

big magic elizabeth gilbert

She’s the author who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” that you may have read; it was quite the bestseller.

eat pray love

She’s been writing for most of her life, has wrestled with creativity, and won. I mean, for one thing, she wrote another book immediately AFTER “Eat, Pray, Love.” Given all the attention, all the praise, all the criticism – about her book and her life – that was a brave feat in itself.

Elizabeth Gilbert has been on a speaking tour promoting her book this year and I was supposed to see her on one of the stops. But my plans fell through and I wasn’t able to travel the 3 hours. I did still get my signed copy of “Big Magic” though:


I first became interested in this book because all my creative entrepreneur contacts were talking about it. These are my clients, potential clients, their friends, etc. I don’t make a living from being “a creative” but I’ve always been a writer, as a hobby and pulling it into my work whenever I can (blogging, copywriting, and editing for clients). So I intended to read the book straight-on, from the perspective of a writer.

As I started reading it, I found that I was able to apply almost every single point to being an entrepreneur as well. The author talks a lot about ideas, how we get them and use them (or don’t); not going into huge debt to learn how to be an artist because there are so may free/cheap ways to do so; no whining when publishers and patrons don’t seek you out; etc. Well, all the same things could be said for starting and nurturing a small business. So I was psyched – this book was applicable to TWO distinct parts of my life! Pretty dang cool.

Um, yeah, make that THREE: How about applying her ideas and wisdom to scrapbooking? It doesn’t get much more creative than this wonderful hobby. Now that I’m about 90% done with the book, I’m feeling the need to read it all again. There’s so much good stuff in here and I’m going to share a few important ideas of Elizabeth’s as they might apply to scrapbookers.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from early in the book (starts on page 88 … ooh, magical number!):

Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody “a creative person” is almost laughably redundent; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it.

If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. You and I and everyone you know are descended from tens of thousands of years of makers. Decorators, tinkerers, storytellers, dancers, explorers, fiddlers, drummers, builders, growers, problem-solvers, and embellishers – these are our common ancestors.

The guardians of high culture [and scrapbooking] will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design. Even if you grew up watching cartoons in a sugar stupor from dawn to dusk, creativity still lurks within you. …

All of which is to say: You do not need a permission slip from the principal’s office to live a creative life. Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip — THERE, I just gave it to you. I just wrote it on the back of an old shopping list. Consider yourself fully accredited.

Now go make something.

I want to scream this to all those people who, upon hearing that I love to scrapbook, say, “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not creative.” Bull puckey! (as my mama said as I was growing up, because she didn’t curse in front of minors). YOU are creative and YOU are creative and YOU are creative. Every single person. It’s in all of us. Granted, some might be shy about letting out their creativity, feel it’s a waste of time, or feel their efforts are lackluster. But no one can say they truly aren’t creative. It’s just IN us.

I also want to share that passage with you scrapbookers who feel your pages are too plain, you don’t do all the techniques, you don’t have $80 per page to spend on supplies, or you’re “just a pocket page scrapper.” I’ve been guilty of thinking and saying these things about myself. So I needed to hear this. No matter what form our scrapbooking takes, we are creating layouts, writing down memories, choosing pleasing colors and themes, and making our own version of art. We are creative, just as creative as those “creative scrapbookers”!

elizabeth gilbert big magic
~Quote graphic courtesy of Penguin Books

Another passage that spoke to me was this one, starting on page 179:

I firmly beleive that we all need to find something to do in our lives that stops us from eating the couch. Whether we make a profession out of it or not, we all need an activity that is beyond the mundane and that takes us out of our established and limiting roles in society (mother, employee, neighbor, brother, boss, etc.). We all need something that helps us to forget ourselves for a while – to momentarily forget our age, our gender, our socioeconomic background, our duties, our failures, and all that we have lost and screwed up. We need something that takes us so far out of ourselves that we forget to eat, forget to pee, forget to mow the lawn, forget to resent our enemies, forget to brood over our insecurities. …

Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir – something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.

Can I get an AMEN?? For those of us scrapbook obsessed, this is the wonderful, magical, amazing thing that keeps us sane. Scrapbooking allows us that time and space to escape the real world and all its obligations and crushing blows and just be creative. I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a single moment scrapbooking that hasn’t been enjoyable (well, except for editing and printing photos but let’s not count that).

How many times have you been so consumed by paper, photos, embellishments, and adhesive that you forgot to pee? Or eat or drink or pay the light bill? Yeah, that’s a magical escape my friends and aren’t we lucky to have found the key to the portal.

We are all creative and creativity keeps us sane. Those are just two of the scrapbook-y takeaways I got from this book. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas and your scrapbooking creativity in general.

Scrapbook Novels: ALL the Books I Read in 2013

Please forgive me for being NSBR here (non-scrapbook related) as I try to remember all the books I read this year and put them in 1 place. I was keeping track in Project Life but, errrr . . . let’s just say that fell through. I’ve got some saved to my Pinterest books board but didn’t start that until late in the year. I have some on my Kindle account and some that I posted on the Two Peas weekly reading thread. But I’m scattered, baby!

{Yeah, I know there’s Goodreads but I hardly ever get over there and find the site to be a bit of a rabbit hole}.

I’ll put a brief review, a link to the book in case you’re interested, and will come back and add books as I remember them :) I’ll put the scrapbook novels first so, if you don’t care about regular novels, you can at least see the good stuff before you leave me :) And if you hang out ’til the end of this very long entry, there’s a special book I want to tell you about.

Gilt Trip (A Scrapbooking Mystery) by Laura Childs
It’s a scrapbooking novel so of course I’ve already talked about it! Check it out HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Cropped to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery) and Designed to Death (A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery) by Christina Freeburn
Yep, wrote about these already, too! You can find the entries HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Scrappy Cupcake Angels by Kristah Price
You guessed it! Wrote about it HERE :)

Friendship Bread: A Novel by Darien Gee
This is kinda’ scrapbook-related in that it’s the prequel to The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. I read “Avalon” first, not knowing that it was the same characters from “Friendship Bread” but with a lot more of a scrapbooking spin. So if you’re going to read “Avalon”, read “Friendship Bread” first. The characters are great and it’s a sweet story.

Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel
Do you have those “comfort” books and movies that, no matter how down or tired you feel, they can make you feel better so you read/watch them over and over again? That’s “Italian for Beginners” and “Roman Holiday” for me. Which are intertwined, interestingly <3

The Boy Next Door aka “The Guy Next Door” by Meggin Cabot (who became Meg Cabot, of The Princess Diaries fame)
This is from 2009. I think I’ve read it 3 times now. I’m a sucker for a book written in e-mails and texts (see Coco Pinchard and Holly’s Inbox below, hee hee).

Holly’s Inbox: Scandal in the City by Holly Denham
Another re-read. Holly is fun. That’s it, plain and simple.

Ciao, Bella: A Novel About Searching for Beauty and Finding Love by Ryan Phillips
I started reading because of the Italian title but turns out . . . it had NOTHING to do with Italy, LOL. Sweet, slightly religious story of a woman trying to find her purpose in life along with the right person to share it with.

The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard: A Funny, Feel-Good Romantic Comedy by Robert Bryndza
Kooky, silly, British rom-com. Not believable but that’s okay.

Apart from the Crowd by Anna McPartlin
A nice story set in Ireland of two people struggling through life while falling in love, as friends first. You root for them the whole way.

Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
I loved her novel The Dive From Clausen’s Pier but the main character in Songs was SO whiny, it was hard to get through. I kept waiting for some revelation or A-ha! moment where she finally bucks up, but it never really came. Disappointing.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Another re-read for me. If you’ve lost a loved one, I think it resonates more . . . makes you think about what’s on the other side and what your beliefs are about Heaven.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
I re-read this lovely book in preparation for the sequel coming out this year, Fly Away . . . and then I never read “Fly Away.” Dork.

{Not able to grab a cover image; leave it to Zuckerberg to be the difficult one!}
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich
I was late to the game on this one. I realize it was only one side of the story but if even 1/4 of it’s true, he’s not a very nice person :(

Carry the Oneby Carol Anshaw
One of those “one moment can change everything” books. Some very flawed but lovable characters.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Loved this book! A story that spanned time and location and kept me reading to figure out how all the stories fit together.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spetzi
True story of a serial killer in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I love everything Italy but their justice system is cray-cray. Great read and it stuck with me for a long time.

Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox
Speaking of the cray-cray Italian justice system, I’ve felt from very early on that this poor girl was being railroaded. This is the first time she’s been heard from directly and she explained a lot of the false accusations and assumptions about her. She’s a bit of an “odd duck” but not a killer, no way.

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer
Beachy + fluffy + sisters = nice escapism.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I started this book on a car trip and let’s just say, when we arrived and I had to stop reading, I was bummed :( I finished it in 2 days. I met and married my husband within months so I could really relate to how deeply they loved in such a short time. And the relationship that developed with her mother-in-law was lovely <3

The Sea Glass Sisters: Prelude to The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate
As a former 9-1-1 dispatcher, I could relate to the main character and her guilt over a call gone wrong. Even when it’s not your fault, you feel tremendous guilt. I’m also a beach lover so I enjoyed hearing about the storm, beach life, etc.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I’m glad I read this before too much of the hype was out there. Everyone talked about being disappointed in the ending but I don’t now how ELSE is could’ve ended. Looking forward to the movie version, due out in 2014!

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
I remember telling my librarian that this book was frustrating me because there were all these disparate stories that seemingly had nothing to do with each other. But rest assured, they’re all tied nicely with a bow by the end. And while I thought there was a point I “had it all figured out,” I was wrong. Which is cool. I *want* to be surprised by books.

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
Not my usual kind of book but so glad I read it. It made me want to live on a lighthouse island, for one thing, LOL! Very well written and gives you a lot to think about – the meaning of and what constitutes “family” and also how dangerous secrets are.

The Marriage Pact by MJ Pullen
Cute and fluffy read about guy/girl friends who pledge to marry each other if they’re not married to others by the time they turn 30. The main character has a long affair with a married man which I hate reading about but she does come to see all the reasons it was so very wrong.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Very touching, sad, and hopeful at the same time. I fell in love with the 2 main characters, flaws and all. One of the best books I’ve ever read.

The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison
WOW. Very interesting book. I’m just glad I don’t know people like this in real life! They both drove me crazy in different ways.

The final book is a special one and I’ve read it twice since November:

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
Yes, it’s a book about prayer and spirituality. But I think unless you’re really offended by those topics, you would enjoy it. Anne is SUCH a gifted writer. She puts big concepts like prayer, gratitude, amazement, and pleading for help into such real, everyday, meaningful terms that you can relate exactly to what she means. I came away – both times I read it – laughing, appreciating life more, feeling sadness for people’s suffering but peace at the same time. I think it’s an especially good read for SCRAPBOOKERS because we’re already the types who want to savor our “moments” and realize how quickly time passes, how blessed we are even in our struggles, and are looking for meaning in how we live our lives.

So PLEASE read this book! It’s quick but powerful. I think you’ll love it like I did.

Okay! So that’s what I read in 2013. Phew! With all the research, copy/pasting, and writing, this post took me several hours to write, LOL. I know there are more books and will add them as I remember. I also read maybe 15 non-fiction books that I won’t bore you with – about dieting, health, blogging, working at home, that kind of thing.

I didn’t realize how MUCH I had read until I now see the books all in one place {28 and counting}. Pretty cool :)

Did you tally your books for the year somewhere? We’d love to see your list! Or did you have any favorites or books you hated? Whether scrapbook-related books or not, we’d enjoy hearing about YOUR reading in comments. Feel free to leave a link to your blog post, Goodreads, Pinterest, etc. if you like.

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