Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

Literary Arts 30th, Or Quieting Fear

There’s nothing more motivational than listening to the struggles and realizations of an author who “made it.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again. On Monday, I attended Literary Arts 30th Anniversary Party, where I was able to hear Colin Meloy, lead singer of The Decemberists and author of the series Wildwood, play a few songs and listen to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, (among others) speak.

For those of you who don’t know, Literary Arts (LA) is an Oregon-based nonprofit literary center that was formed thirty years ago, in 1984, with the mission of bringing “authors and thinkers” to the Northwest. LA hosts lecture series that bring in over two thousand readers; they host workshops, seminars, and programs for high school students. They’ve also helped support many Oregon authors throughout their careers, like Cheryl Strayed for one.


Gilbert seems like the best friend we’d all love to have; she’s got a great sense of humor, an adventurous spirit, but most of all, she’s sure of herself. Not just because her best-known novel, Eat, Pray, Love, spent nearly two-hundred weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. Although, that’s plenty enough to make a writer feel sure of herself.

Maybe it’s that, as Gilbert said of herself (quite depreciatingly), she isn’t good at anything besides writing. It must be difficult to be good at a lot of things, she told the audience. How do you know where to direct your passion? That struck a chord with me. I’m not amazing at everything I do, but I’ve always been a good student with a hunger for knowledge. I love astronomy and history. Sometimes politics when I’m not too down on the world. And growing up, my being on the honor roll and needing to always be right led my parents to believe I’d make quite a successful lawyer. I can even sing without breaking glass (although, stage fright makes this difficult to prove). Point being, becoming a writer isn’t generally something a parent dreams for their child. And when there’s literally nothing stopping you from going for that law degree (or some other—stabler—career) besides a persistent itch to write and tell stories, it’s difficult to convince yourself that you aren’t, indeed, making a huge mistake.

“Creativity and fear,” as Gilbert said, “are conjoined twins.” It takes courage to be a writer. Courage to acknowledge fear’s presence, but to let fear know that it won’t control the journey. Gilbert told the audience that she has witnessed many writers—writers just as good as her, if not better—who gave up on themselves. They weren’t happy with the work they were producing. It didn’t meet the expectations they had set for themselves, and so they quit. They “pre-decided,” as Gilbert put it, that they weren’t good enough.


Hillary Clinton’s Favorite Books and Authors?

Despite the next presidential election being more than two years away, hopeful candidates are already carving out a spot in the public eye. Hillary Clinton, probable democratic front runner for 2016, spoke to the New York Times about what books she’s read recently, as well as her list of favorite authors. While some, like Ralph Nader, doubt Clinton’s sincerity when it comes to having actual read these books, I’ve decided to run the numbers.

I know I’m a decently busy person, and this year, despite that schedule, I have read a total of 30 books. I will admit that half of those books were for classes, but overall, I have read about 15 books this year for pleasure (not that my school books aren’t pleasurable—I love my major and my reading).

I’m on the fence when it comes to Clinton’s sincerity. I think one dedicated and with a love for reading and books could most definitely find the time to do the reading on her list. But, with all of the campaigning she is doing, plus her former positions as a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet as U.S. Secretary of State, Senator for New York, and, of course, her stint as First Lady, it is really hard to picture her with a lot of down time for reading.

I won’t try to sway the reader one way or the other on the likelihood of Clinton actually reading this list, instead, I will provide a list of the books, the page count, and the time it would take to read the book based on an average reading rate of 450 words (which is generous. I read faster than that, but the average reading rate of say, a college student, is about 350 words a minute).


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is 775 pages long. With roughly 250 to 300 words a page average for books, that makes this book about 193,750 to 232,500 words long. At the reading rate of 450 words per minute, it would take roughly between 7 hours and 15 minutes to 8 hours and 45 minutes to finish this book.