Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert


Reading List



I’ve recently added three books to my reading list for students and clients. I’ve mentioned them in other posts, but thought them worth reviewing briefly. I also want to alert you to a few upcoming publications and some fun events during their launches.


1) The Great Work of Your Life, By Stephen Cope.

Cope draws on stories of artists, writers, scientists, and spiritual teachers to demonstrate how calling operates in their lives. It isn’t enough to feel called to one area of work or another, however. Cope argues for the power of following a path all the way, whether that be to the end of your life, or until you’ve fulfilled the calling. He writes,


When you commit fully to the task at hand, the abundance of your commitment has magic it. It draws your energies together. It calls up energies you didn’t know you had.


This book was a game changer for me because it helped put my life in perspective. Cope’s concept of serial dharma paths helped me understand my past work in the context of calling. It gave me permission to let go of past dharma paths, or more accurately, let them evolve into work that feels right for me now.


Do you have a sense of calling in your work? Have you committed to it, full on?


2) The ONE Thing, By Gary Keller.

I found a lot of correspondence between this book by big time realtor, Gary Keller, and The Great Work of Your Life, written by a Yogi and spiritual seeker. The One Thing is about decluttering your life so you can get your great work accomplished. At a time when I was suffering from hideous chronic fatigue, Keller’s strategies helped me stay on track with work. How? By doing less and staying focused. Instead of a menu of Creative Mix programs and events, I spent my limited energy on developing the Art/Life Mentoring Program. Instead of four tasks crammed into the seven hour school day, I chose two. “Success is built sequentially,” writes Keller. “It’s one thing at a time.”


When you sit down to plan your week, consider Keller’s key question:


What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary


3) Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, by Gretchen Rubin

I wrote about Rubin’s idea of foundational habits in last week’s post, how some habits render the others easier, including sleep, nutrition, exercise, and meditation. I like Rubin’s book because it isn’t a program. She acknowledges that different personality types will approach habit according to their relationship to rules. A rebel, for example, will need a different approach to forming habits than us Upholders, who adore rules. Many wonderful ideas here to implement good habits. Also a warning chapter, which she subtitles, “Loophole-Spotting.” These are our rational justifications for breaking good habits, including everybody’s favorite: these calories don’t count because I’m on vacation.


By the by, Rubin has some great resources on her website including tips for changing work habits, eating habits, and exercise.


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1) Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, coming in September

The book: When I asked Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press, about role models, she mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert Why? Because she’s using her celebrity to serve and encourage women. Here is an excerpt from her publisher about the new book:

“With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers powerful insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and to let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love (and how to face down what we most fear). She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits that are needed in order to live our most creative lives.”

The podcast: Gilbert recently began a podcast, Magic Lessons, in which she counsels individuals about their creative struggles and often brings in other artists to add to her wisdom. Big generosity abounds. Here is the link to her ITunes page:

The event: On November 7, She Writes press is co-sponsoring a day-long workshop with Gilbert in Napa Valley. Sounds like heaven to me. Information here:


2) The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr, coming in September

The Book: From the woman who remade memoir as a genre, beginning with The Liar’s Club, and followed by Cherry, and Lit, a glimpse into the author’s process. Here is the blurb from her publisher:

“As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.”

The Trailer: Fun, live, blurbs with Lean Dunham, Gary Shtynegart, Amy Tan, and Mary-Louise Parker, in which memoirist and basketball coach, Phil Jackson, says that every chapter is like a dharma talk. See trailer here.

The Event: An Evening with Mary Karr at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, in which the above-mention CM interviewee, Brooke Warner, introduces and moderates. Information here.


3) The Great Spring: Writing, Zen and this Zigzag Life, by Natalie Goldberg, coming 2016

The book: A gorgeous collection of stories from my writing and Zen teacher, Natalie Goldberg. Not a lot of details on this one yet –publication will be early 2016 — but I’ve seen excerpts and know it will be another knockout.

Save this date: Friday, February 5, Taos celebrates Natalie, marking both the publication of The Great Spring and the 30th anniversary of Writing Down the Bones. A day-long workshop will follow on Saturday. I’ll let you know when I have more details.


What are you favorite books on the creative life? Please post in the comments below.