Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Review: The Big Thing
Hardcover, 256 pages
A review copy of this book was provided through TLC Book Tours
The appeal of Phyllis Korkki's book begins right in the title: how can you not warm to an author who admits to being a lazy, self-doubting procrastinator right in the title. Right away I'm thinking, this author will not judge me.
I'm pretty sure that I am the perfect audience for this book. I don't usually read self-help books, but I read a lot of books about writing. I mean a lot. I have filled shelf upon shelf with books about how to write your novel/short story/memoir/you fill in the blank. I have always wanted to write a book; I always thought I would write a book. But, your "Big Thing" or project doesn't have to be a book. It could be a business you want to start, any artistic project you might want to name (a Reggae album), a philanthropic foundation, or even a marriage.
After reading The Big Thing, I even began to think that a lifelong reading plan could be a Big Thing. If I came up with a product (a library, a book, a museum of books) or even if I didn't, if my project was planned, incremental, and important to me, it could be my Big Thing.
But it probably still is a book. That is the Big Thing I want to complete, and The Big Thing has been immensely helpful to me as I think through why I want to complete such a project, what that project might mean to me, and how I might realistically complete it.
Korkki is a journalist and editor who works full-time for the New York Times. She has a demanding job, a limited amount of time and energy, and yet she finally figured out how to get her Big Thing done: hence this book. Very meta.
Along the way, Korkki engages in self-examination in the most self-deprecating and comforting way (after all, she did finish her book, and she's just as flawed as I am!).
She also uses her substantial journalistic skills to interview a panoply of experts, from mindfulness teachers, to posture experts, to an actual child prodigy artist. She is a superb interviewer and reporter, and makes herself almost invisible as she tells engaging stories about virtually every aspect of tackling a big important project. She tells you why you procrastinate, and why you shouldn't; how you should breathe, sit, and even work in bed if you like to emulate Proust. She even tells you how to know whether you should maybe just give up on your Big Thing.
But you probably shouldn't give up. Instead, you should go out and buy The Big Thing, possibly the friendliest and most encouraging book a procrastinator could ask for. Don't put it off: go out and get The Big Thing and do your Big Thing.