Sunday, July 09, 2006

Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)

When I first heard of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, I didn't want to read it. I didn't want to hear about some woman who traveled to all these great places and experienced enlightenment. I think I was jealous of her before I even picked up the book. But it was on Powell's recommended reading list, and so far I've really liked all the books I've read from that list, so I eventually got it from the library.

Gilbert won me over right away. Reading her book is like talking to your best friend late at night after you've shared a bottle of wine, you know, having one of those deeply satisfying conversations where you're completely honest with each other and find out that your fears and worries in life aren't yours alone.

Going through a painful divorce, Gilbert found herself wanting, for no practical reason, to learn Italian. After an Italian class in New York, at a school that she refers to as "Night School for Divorced Ladies," a magazine-work-sponsored trip to Indonesia, and some serious yoga and spiritual sessions, she finds herself wanting to travel to Italy, Indonesia, and India. And eventually she makes it happen.

Gilbert admits that she's not the world's best traveler, but that her strongpoint is making friends, and she does this in each country: Luca Spaghetti in Rome, Richard from Texas at the ashram in India, and an Wayan, a single-mother who is also a healer, in Bali.

Her year-long journey is amazing, and she does a great job telling it, describing both the highs and the lows, with a lot of humor and compassion. Jim and I spent most of our weekends in June traveling, and I took this book with me on every trip, and even after long days where I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to crawl in bed and fall asleep, I couldn't help but read a little bit each night, and often had to make myself stop. I highly recommend it.

Next book up: Candyfreak by Steve Almond

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