I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in July but decided to hold off on my review until after my book club meeting. In retrospect, that was a bad idea. I can't quite remember what I thought about the book BEFORE the meeting ... hearing everyone else's thoughts has sort of sabotaged my ability to review this book. :( But I'll give it a shot!
I expected to hate this book. I'd heard that is was whiny and self-absorbed to the extreme - ugh. So I started reading with some dread. Within the first few sections the author stated that she's not going to go into all the reasons behind her divorce ... what?! Excuse me?! You mean you're not going to give me all the details so I can judge your decisions?! Seriously, those were the thought going through my head. I was quite ticked off about this for a while, but then I realized that this was the only way to write a book like this. If I knew the details, I would have totally judged her as a person and that judgment would have affected my opinion of the rest of the book; if her reasons were valid I'd say "you go girl" and if they were not valid (in my opinion) I'd rant at her and hate her book. [I can't be the only one who does this, right?!]
Once I got past the divorce, accepted that I won't know all the reasons for it, and moved on, I actually began to really enjoy this book. When I got to the part where she explains that she is overly affectionate and tends to latch on to people, and described herself as a combination of a "barnacle and a golden retriever" I was laughing out loud. Eat, Pray, Love is not the best book ever, and I don't think it deserves ALL the attention it's gotten in the media, but Gilbert IS an engaging writer and the story did draw me in.
Here are the questions for the Blog Book Tour:
1. Which of the three sections of the book -- Eat (), Pray (India) or Love (Indonesia) -- could you most relate to & why?
Of course I could related to Italy the most - I AM Italian after all! So much of what she talked about sounded so familiar to me. Remember the part where she talks about the sexy and macho Italian men who stand around eating ice cream and still live with their mamas? I've got LOTS of uncles just like that.
2. The author learns Italian for the pure love of it (no real practical reason). Have you wanted to learn something just for the pure sake of the knowledge? Did you pursue it and how did it make you feel once you had done it?
Although I love being a student, since graduating from college in '98 I have never signed up to officially learn something. But I do get occasionally get on a topical reading kick. For example, a few years ago I decided to study Irish history (did I mention that I'm Irish too?). Over the next several months I read political histories, historical fiction, guidebooks, and tons of other books that had to do with Ireland. Although it served no practical purpose, I was happy with my increased knowledge. It fulfilled my pressing desire to learn (at least for a while). And as an extra bonus, I learned more about the political climate of my Gram's childhood in Ireland.
3. In Chapter 60, the plumber/poet from New Zealand gives Liz some Instructions for Freedom. #7: "Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go." To what extent has any suffering you've experienced in response to your own struggles (such as infertility, loss, illness) been inevitable? Natural but unhelpful? Useless? Does the suffering serve any purpose for you? Is that purpose enough to justify ongoing suffering?
Here's my take on this: bad things happen - that's just the way it is. Life is not perfect, and we will never get all the things we want. We can choose to rail against God/fate/whatever we believe in OR we can get on with our lives. Of course I realize that it isn't always that easy but that is my outlook on the world. Yes I get upset about things, yes I can get depressed, yes my heart can break over and over and over again, but I refuse to let those things define my life. I can ALWAYS look up from my sadness and find something, somewhere to be glad/grateful/excited about. And besides, having gone through those horrible feelings myself makes me more empathetic to others, more watchful of the words I speak, more in touch with the pain others may be in. So in the end, "I" decide what my outlook will be - "I" consciously decide to be happy - "I" refuse to let suffering bring me down and make me a miserable person. And that's just the way it is.
(As a side note, I wrote this on Saturday then went to church Sunday morning where the sermon had a LOT to do with this same topic. The sermon was on I Peter 1:1-9, dealing with trials as a Christian. The missionary who spoke suggested that when faced with a trial, we should pray "Lord, I don't know why you allowed this trial in my life but I'm going to trust you through it all because I know you still love me." That's what I try to do, and I try to keep a positive attitude at the same time.)
And finally, here are the Weekly Geeks questions:
1. Bibliolatrist asks: Did EAT, PRAY, LOVE live up to the hype? It's been sitting on my TBR shelf for awhile, and I've been doing a good job of putting it off -- should I put it off longer, or dive right in?
Well, you can tell from my review above what I thought of it. However, knowing the types of comments you make in your reviews (cuz you know I read you every day) I'm thinking hat you won't like this one. Of course now I want to tell you to read it, just so I can read your opinions!
2. Bybee asks: Which section did you like the best of Eat, Pray, Love?
Aha! I already answered that same question for the Tour above!
Have you reviewed this book? I'm happy to post your link here!
Paper Bridges gives a Christian perspective on this book
The 3R's loved it
Weebles Wobblog was part of the online book club
Baby Smiling In Back Seat was also part of the online book club
Reading Reflections didn't get what all the hype was about
Read Street gives a man's perspective on this book