My Challenges (timed)


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Completed 8 of 9



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Completed 2 of 3



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Completed 2 of 4



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Completed 71 of 81



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Completed 9 of 10


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Completed 34 of 50



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Completed 1 of 2



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Completed 1 of 2



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Completed 1 of 5



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Completed 3 of 5



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Completed 5 of 100

My Challenges (perpetual)

100 SHOTS OF SHORT
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CHECKIN’ OFF THE CHEKHOV
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THE COMPLETE BOOKER
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MARTEL-HARPER CHALLENGE
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MODERN LIBRARY'S 100 BEST NOVELS

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NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
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THE PULITZER PROJECT
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TAMMY'S BEYOND BOOKS CHALLENGE

New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
Email: 841/1373

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Title: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

First Published: 2006

No. of Pages: 331

Synopsis (from B&N): "This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls "Anne Lamott's hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister") is poised to garner yet more adoring fans."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: I have to start this review with a confession that I never thought I'd make -- I picked up this book fully believing that I was not going to like it. It was such a huge success that I thought it had to be overrated, that it couldn't possibly live up to the hype. And truthfully, I'm a book snob, meaning that any book that is hugely popular is going to have limited literary merit. Unfair, I know. I'm working on it.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized shortly in that I loved this book. Absolutely LOVED it. Not because it's a literary masterpiece, although it's very easy to read and likable, but because the author could be ME. I also went through a painful divorce (which, incidentally, is redundant, as I don't believe any divorce is not painful), although my ex didn't make it difficult like her's did. I've also been on a self-discovery trip since then. The adventurous part of me would sell a body part to live temporarily in Rome (never mind that the everyday me freaks out at the idea of moving to another state), and everything I read about India or see in a movie or on TV calls to me spiritually. I've never previously considered Indonesia, but it now sounds wonderful, too.

In some ways it seems funny to me to say that the author could be me, because there is also so much that we don't have in common. We look different (she's blond, I'm brunette); we're from different places (she's from New England and lives predominantly in New York, I'm from the Deep South and have never lived anywhere else); she's a world-traveler and I have yet to get a single stamp in my passport; she's a social butterfly and makes friends everywhere, I have trouble sometimes speaking to people I've known for years. But in the deeper, more meaningful ways, I really connected to her and what she spent a year doing.

The book is delightful. The author is forthright and honest about her internal struggles but not in that look-at-me way that so many memoirs have. She does a wonderful job describing the places she visits; and the reader makes an emotional connection with the people she encounters, to the point that after finishing, I wanted a follow-up to find out what happened to them next. And best of all, the author provides the kind of spiritual insights that I've normally only found in overt theological works.

There was not a single page of this book that I did not enjoy. This one truly deserves all the praise and popularity it has received.

Challenges: 999 ("Travel"); Nonfiction 5; Summer Vacation Reading

2 comments:

Amanda said...

Good to know this one turned out well. I'm also a little leery about it, but feel like I should give it a try.

Kristy said...

I read this book one summer before the hype. My copy is in hardcover which shows you how long I've had it. I really enjoyed it even though some parts were a bit "new age" for me. I wish I had her guts. It was a great summr read. I'm thinking about reading it again.