Eat, Pray, Love Virtual Book Discussion

Eat, Pray, Love: One Women’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. Published in 2006.

Synopsis: In her mid-thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert finds herself recently divorced, severely depressed, and not getting what she wants out of life. A surprise and generous book advance allows her the opportunity to spend a year abroad in search of herself: four months in Italy in pursuit of pleasure, four months in India in pursuit of spirituality/devotion, and four months in Indonesia in pursuit of finding a balance between the two.

About the Author: Prior to publishing this New York Times best-selling memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert was already a published novelist who also worked as a journalist with several different magazine publications, based in New York City. Her sequel to Eat, Pray, Love – Committed: A Love Story – was published in 2010.

My Initial Reactions to this Book

With all the hype surrounding this book, the film that had been released, and my love of travel, I’ll admit that I’m a bit late in reading this book. After reading Gilbert’s short introduction – in which she discusses her plans to enjoy great food, devotedly practice yoga, and find balance in her life – I was sure I would love this book . For these are also a few of my favorite things.

Alas, I began reading this book a little over a week ago on an intercontinental business trip and really had a hard time getting into it. In the first section of the book (on Italy), I wanted to hear less about Gilbert’s messy divorce and complicated life, and more about Italy. There, I’ll say it: I found her to be a little (obnoxiously) whiney.

The second section (on India) was a little more entertaining to me. I’ve been practicing yoga for just over 7 years now, a practice I began when I lived in South Africa. I find the Americanized version of yoga too watered-down, and I’ve always dreamed of spending time in an Ashram. In this section, I really appreciated Gilbert’s anthropological anecdotes about ashram living, the people she met along the way, and her quest to find spirituality and tame her mind.

By the time I finished the third section of the book (on Indonesia) I loved it! Maybe it is because I too am currently seeking balance in my life? Also, I have never been to Indonesia, so this was the most ‘foreign’ of the three places to me. Now, I definitely want to go to Bali ASAP. Also, while in Indonesia, Gilbert seemed to have already found herself and began a number of interesting relationships (Ketut, Wayan, Felipe, Yudhi). The book was no longer just about her. This new, mature version of the author was way more enjoyable to read.

So what did you think of the book? Have you been to any of the places where Gilbert travelled to? Did you enjoy one of the 3 sections more than the others? I’m curious to find out what other people thought of the book based on their personal quests du jour. Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Next up for discussion will be George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Discussion begins February 9th.

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8 Responses to Eat, Pray, Love Virtual Book Discussion

  1. Emily Davila says:

    Hi Becky, Yes you are late! But its a good book to discuss.

    I ultimately appreciated her discussions about prayer, since prayer is so ‘uncool’ these days, especially to the over-educated, liberal chic lit set she/we fit into.
    I think it takes courage to admit her discovery of it, and that her form of prayer was more the traditional kind, none of this ‘I found the goddess’ stuff that is in a lot of new self-help and memoirs. I think this book encourages readers to be seekers of their own spiritual journey and to give prayer a try, which despite our overemphasis on religion in the US, I don’t feel our culture is very good at extending that simple invitation in a non-judgemental way.
    Check out this critique of the book, it gets at what I am saying very thoughtfully:
    http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/3193/eat%2C_pray%2C_trash%3A_what_the_critics_don%E2%80%99t_see

  2. beckyajohnson says:

    Thanks for the link to the essay, Emily, and for what you said on prayer.

    One of the things I appreciated most from the India section was Gilbert (almost) quoting REM, “That’s me in the corner, in other words. That’s me in the spotlight. Choosing my religion.” (page 208)

    I agree whole-heartedly with what you say about religion and prayer in the United States, and I think that Gilbert does a great job of reminding us that we are the creators of our own spiritual journey.

  3. I didnt like it. I agree she was super whiney and had a hard time getting into it too. I actually have to say that I never even finished it. Sad..My girlfriend also tried to read the book and made the comment that it seemed that it was one of those things where you needed to experience it to relate/enjoy it. I agree.

  4. becky sorensen says:

    I read this book a few years ago, in the midst of all the hype it was getting, before a movie was ever in the works….

    I was so excited to read it, and so inspired just by the description. Before I read it, I caught an interview with Gilbert on tv…I think, on Oprah (of course, haha). And I thought to myself, is it me, or is this chick kinda full of herself??

    Unfortunately, that one thought alone tainted my entire reading of the book. I couldn’t get past the vibes I felt that she was kinda self-centered and whiny, and because of her job/money she was able to just leave the country for a year, to amazing places that I can barely dream of going, and all after a bad break-up. It bothered me that she still ended up with a man at the end, after the whole story was about finding herself and opening herself to spirituality…I mean, I know it’s a true story, so how upset can I be that she found love, but it still felt like….Oh, all I have to do is leave the country, find myself, find God, and then, boom, a man will come! Do I sound crazy? Cynical?

    Then, I saw the movie, and the entire first hour is in the US, going through her breakups, bleh!!! It did get better when she finally started traveling, and Julia Roberts is pretty awesome, but I still got the stuck-up, whiny girl vibe for the entire movie. The best part of the movie? Javier Bardem, the cutie who plays her future hubbie, Felipe. 🙂

    But now, after reading your reviews, I want to give it another go. I need to be a lot more open as I read it, and try not to let myself be bogged down by my own personal vibes about her whiny-ness. So I’m going to read it again sometime and see how I feel now that it’s been a few years! Thanks for the inspiration Becky! I’m also planning to read her next book, Committed, which sounds quite interesting.

  5. shortbuswonderkid says:

    Thanks for reading this one so I didn’t have to. I am very excited about 1984 though. Looking forward to your next post.

  6. angelfairy says:

    I heard about the book after I had already seen previews to the movie. So I decided to read the book first before seeing the movie. I got the book, the movie came out in theaters and also on dvd and I’m still reading the god forsaken book. I can’t seem to get into to it. I’m in the second part (india).

    But I’m determined to finish the book because my husband went out of his way to get it for me. It got lost in the mail and everything. Yep! This book has giving me hell from the very beginning.

    Does anybody have any advice about how to get thru these thing with out serious injuring my self, just kidding. But for real I need inspiration……

    • beckyajohnson says:

      Hang in there, angelfairy. I thought the book got a lot better in the third part (Indonesia). Unfortunately, I heard the movie was not as good.

  7. Pingback: Radio Shangri-La Virtual Book Discussion | Becky A. Johnson's Blog

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