Have you ever picked up a book that you normally might not give the time of day and something about that book makes you crack it open at that moment? I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Eat, Pray, Love over the weekend. Normally, I’d probably ignore this book, but then a galley arrived in the mail and I remembered reading something favorable about it in PW months ago. That same day the NYT Book Review, which had a review of the book on the cover, showed up on my desk. Cosmic? Who knows. What intrigued me about this particular book was Gilbert’s impiousness and the fact that the book seemed to be less about how everyone should go on some sort of religious pilgrimage and more about how she herself found some inner peace. Plus she lived in Italy, India, and Indonesia over the course of a year. I am a sucker for books set in exotic locales.
I found Gilbert’s writing lively, honest, and I particularly enjoyed the personal tone she set from the very introduction. Sometimes when authors address the reader directly, it can be distracting to what’s going on, but here I think it helped. She lays it all out in the beginning. Reeling from a bad divorce and then heartbreak from a rebound boyfriend, she decides to spend a year living in Italy, India, and Indonesia in order to explore herself. In Italy, she studies Italian as well as how to enjoy the pleasures of eating and exploring. In India, she stays at an ashram to explore her relationship with the divine (her description of what she means by ‘god’ is pretty good, but just saying it a review might give you the wrong impression of the book). And finally she returns to Bali to study the balance between temporal pleasures and the divine path.
It’s funny how sometimes the book you consider least likely to read can bring you satisfaction. I don’t know why I enjoyed this book so much. You’d think by now we’d stop trying to categorize so much and stray a little from our preconceived notions, especially when it comes to reading.