A friend made fun of me for reading Eat Pray Love. Apparently it was made into a movie a few years back and no one takes it seriously. Or maybe it is the title. Regardless, the book is right up my alley. I found it resting on the shelf above the fireplace that makes up the book exchange at my local coffee shop and decided to take it home because I had watched a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert and found it interesting. This was the extent of my decision-making. I also enjoyed the first ten pages.
In many ways this is the type of book I love. It is a travelogue and a memoir, two words that sum up ninety per cent of the books I’ve read and liked in the past two years. It is exactly the type of book that I imagine one day wanting to write. Gilbert is the type of person that I can imagine myself wanting to be.
The first and last section of the book are excellent. They are tales of an expat in a new culture, settling down, making friends and having adventures. Gilbert is also stingingly honest about topics that usually go untouched like depression, divorce, love, and masturbation. She talks about the easy things like pasta and attractive boys but also the parts that usually make us uncomfortable. Honesty is essential to good memoir. This is a year of her life, on a platter. Learn what you will.
The only part I don’t like is the pray part. I don’t identify with her devotion. I am not a spiritual person and admire her journey and want to move to an ashram in India for parts but don’t dig it. I could go to Borobudur and admire the beauty of the architecture but I will never be moved to believe. As a result the middle section drags. I keep reading knowing that if I stick it out Indonesia will be more like Italy. I guess I am more of an eat and love type.
I am rewarded with tales of a complicated Island and the friends she makes. I can identify with the calmness and balance she is seeking. I can see the value of meditation, although I will only ever do yoga because it is a great workout not because I find anything in the theology behind it.