Another Thailand book! My puzzle mate recommended this one to me as a quick holiday read for someone who loves travel. It was a good choice – light and easy, but interesting, and I didn’t have to feel overly jealous of her adventures, as I was off having one of my own.
Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, could be classified as a journal (but the writer knows the future), or a memoir (but she speaks in the present tense), about one woman’s journey across Italy, India, and Indonesia as she tries to find herself (or her “I”, if you will) after a painful divorce.
A warning: if you read/open this book, you enter in to a sort of contract with the author – she will not shove her enlightenment in your face, but if you choose to read the book, she will share it with you. By this, I mean that she’s not aggressive in her writing, but it is written from the perspective of one who feels she has had a spiritual experience. If you have no patience for that sort of thing, there is simply no point in you reading this book.
It is divided into 3 groups of 36 stories (adding up to 108 stories, plus the intro, which equals the 109 beads found on a japa malas*) which makes it incredibly easy to read. I find that the more chapters there are in a book, the quicker I can read it, and I think that’s only in part because of the amount of page space taken up every time there’s a new chapter. Short chapters keep the reader from getting too lost, thus keeping there attention over long periods, and provide easy time outs while reading, allowing for quickly snatching a bit of story during a bathroom break, or in a long line. So, in other words, perfect for one who is, say, 14 books behind where she should be if she intends to complete the CBR on time.
Gilbert’s luck in scoring a book advance allowing her to take a totally self-involved year off of her life is not taken for granted, which makes the book much more bearable than it could have been. Her writing is engaging and straightforward, and she is honest about her flaws. Personally, I particularly enjoyed the first part best, which was more of a travelogue than the other two. Her spiritual insights were interesting for me to read from a sociological perspective, but as an agnostic/skeptic, I didn’t feel particularly moved by her religious experience at an Ashram in India, and was downright uncomfortable by her fawning descriptions of her guru.
The last part of the book, where Gilbert tries to find “balance” between pleasure and devotion while holidaying in Bali, was the least structured of the three,
The woman has a lot of insight, but I’m not sure I’m particularly interested in reading more about her life. Her next memoir, Commitment, covers her journey to marriage with the man she met at the end of Eat, Pray, Love, but I can’t really imagine what more there is to be gained by reading it that wasn’t already covered by her wrestle with marriage and romance in this one.
In short, it’s not the first (or second, or third) book I would pick up, but I’m not at all sorry I read it. If anything here strikes your interest, it’s worth a read.
*And for anyone who’s read the book and wondering: yes, there are 109 beads in the japa malas (basically, Indian rosary beads) that make up the “pray” on the cover. So…just me then.
Cannonball Read III: 15/52