Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

This review will be a bit different than my usual book reviews. Not only did we read this for my IRL (in real life) book club but this online book club read it as well. As part of the blog book tour for the online club we have to answer three questions of our choice from a list submitted by the other bloggers. And I also have questions to answer from this Weekly Geeks task. If you'd like to read more Blog Book Tour answers click here to visit some of the other participants. And you can read what my IRL book club thought about this book here.

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 (Italy), 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.)

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens ( You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty (with author participation).

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


Laura said...

The next book for our IRL book club is this book! Like you, I am somewhat dreading reading it, but I figure that there must be something pretty good about the story to make it so popular! That's what book clubs are for though, right? To read and discuss books that you normally wouldn't pick up! Your review definitely piqued my interest more!

Amanda said...

I read this book, too. And I thought the same thing you did about the divorce. So, I'm glad that I'm not the only one. I liked the Italy section, but the rest I found too preachy or whiney or self-absorbed.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

I'm curious: did your Irish history jag inspire you to actually travel to Ireland, or just to feel more connected with your Gram?

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Cassandra - it was actually INSPIRED by a trip to Ireland. I'd been once before (just after high school) and went back for a wedding in '04. I started the Irish reading kick a few months before the 2nd trip and kept it up for several months after. :)

Esperanza said...

I too read this for a IRL book club. And many of the people there had the same complaing - they wanted to know about the divorce. Many couldn't get over that to actually enjoy the book overall.

Florinda said...

I read this late last year and LOVED it - probably because I related to it just a bit too well, but I also really liked her writing. I've edited my review to link back to yours, and if you'd like to complete the circle, here's the link to mine :-).

Kristin said...

"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."

This is exactly how I try to live my life!

loribeth said...

The divorce part didn't really faze me. While she didn't go into the gory details, it was obvious to me that they wanted different things out of life -- he wanted the baby & the house with the white picket fence, she didn't, & she realized something had to give.

I could relate to Italy the most too (being married to an Italian --his mother died before I met her, but the grown men still living with their mothers thing really does apply, even here in North America...!). ; ) I take yoga classes, but the whole ashram thing is not really my cup of tea. Still, it was interesting to read about.

Ti said...

This book interests me, but not enough to read it. I like hype, but I am usually disappointed by books with so much hype. They end up being sort of a let-down. However, if I was in that "trying to find me" stage of life perhaps it would appeal more to me??

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Loribeth - yeah, I've got LOTS of those uncles ... some in New York, some in Maryland ... I just want to smack them most of the time!

Ti - I don't know ... I'm not in the "trying to find me" stage of life myself, but I was able to enjoy it. I agree there was just too much hype though - it wasn't worth all THAT.

Sarah said...

I have read many reviews of this book stating that the author was whinny and annoying... but I really enjoyed it. After all, it is a memoir, so by its nature it is self-absorbed. I can't criticize, because aren't we all guilty at some point or another of being selfish?

Kelly said...

I read this book last winter and was sorely disappointed. Everyone was saying how it was such an insightful book--a MUST read! Well by the time she made it to Indonesia I was fighting to not start skimming the book. I just didn't care.

Deb said...

I totally agree with Sara G... I don't get the critizing the book as selfish. It is exactly that... a personal memoir.

I feel the same way you do about the book... I liked it enough to keep going but the hype was lost on me. I was actually more annoyed about the divorce details when she was in India and releasing her ex husband or whatever it was. But, I agree with your insight on why she didn't attempt to go into the details. Plus as another commenter stated, I think the gist of it was that they were in different stages/places.

thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

"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." Pretty much my thoughts exactly. I didn't love this book but I found myself really liking Liz and wanting her to find herself and her happiness.

Anonymous said...

hey, thanks for the link! :)

Kathy said...

Here from the Book Tour... I love the idea of your blog, very cool!

Fun that you have Italian Uncles just as she described in the book!

I love that you studied Irish History. I never appreciated history enough when I studied it throught the years in school. I think sometimes now, as an adult, I might get more out of it.

I also really enjoyed your answer to #3. I think you have a great attitude about life and when bad things happen. I agree that so much is how we deal with what happens and less about the problems we face. Cool that there was a reading a church that related to what you had just been pondering from the book.

Thank you for sharing!

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Very cool that you researched Irish history out of pure curiosity. I did that once with martyrs and saints (I was not Catholic, but very intrigued by all those gruesome deaths) and once with Queen Victoria's royal progeny spread all over Europe.

I forgot to put that in my review -- yours reminded me.

You can add my review to your list:

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

Ooh, feel free to add me to the review list too.

Baby Smiling in Back Seat might have been inspired to change her life

Amy said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who liked it! I really like the prayer the missionary at your church mentioned...that's a great way to put trials into perspective.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I have some wonderful quotes from that book that I've saved in my quotes file...I think the EAt section was great. It was funny and witty. I liked the format with the beads and the short chapters. It kind of reminded me of the way I think and blogging. Like whatever was top of mind could be the subject of her chapter. The next session PRAY I also enjoyed. I liked this section because I take yoga and have tried to be better at meditation to no avail --the most I can make it is 2-3 minutes and then my mind is running amok again...I found the experience of the Ashram to be fascinating but I thought that the writing of the book began to weaken in this part. The LOVE section, I thought was weakest of all...almost like the author had to hurry up and finish the book, or there really wasn't as much interesting in Indonesia to report on...I didn't get the feeling that the author was as connected to this section and/or location and it showed...not as witty, not as insightful but not horrible either. I would have probaby rated EAT and 8or9, Pray 7 and Love 2.

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