"Eat, Pray, Love"

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is one of those books that got so much hype I didn't want to read it. Then it was chosen for our January book club meeting so I pretty much had to. I liked it well enough I guess, but I don't think I'll ever read it again. There are sections of it I didn't enjoy at all.

Gilbert writes about a year in her life when she was traveling and trying to make sense of her life. Her story is divided into three sections: the first part is set in Italy where she spent four months in "pursuit of pleasure", the second part in India spending four months in "pursuit of devotion", and the last in Bali in "pursuit of balance".

I will admit it was an enjoyable read. I sometimes felt as though she were here telling me her story in person. Words come easily to her; she's one of those lucky people who can talk to anybody and make a friend in ten minutes. She is able to share her thoughts and feelings freely, which makes for great story-telling. It also makes for too much information at times. Why do authors think we want to read about their sexual experiences? If that isn't private, what is?  I can't be the only one who feels this way. Am I?

I liked the first part of the book because it's set in Italy. What's not to love? The language, the people, the architecture, the food - it's all good. Then she goes to India where her stories of the people and the culture are again fascinating, but the spiritual aspect begins to get a little confusing for me. The book wraps up with her four months in Bali, Indonesia, another really interesting place with interesting people. Gilbert amazes me with her ability to connect with strangers. I could spend a year traveling and never get to know anyone. Her way is far better.

In Bali, the spiritual part of her journey becomes even more muddled for me. By the end of the book, she's taken (what looks to me like) bits and pieces of various religions and rolled them all into something that works for her. It's isn't clear to me if she believes in a God who is creator and sovereign and separate, or if she believes God is in everything and everyone and therefore she, herself, is also God. Some things she says seem  to contradict other things and that leaves me losing interest rapidly.

So did the book live up to it's hype? Not for me. It was interesting visiting the three cultures she lived in and her writing is easy, and fun, to read. That's enough to make it a good book for lots of people, but for me the way-too-personal stuff and the really odd mix of spiritual practices and beliefs got in the way. I haven't seen the movie but I've heard from some that it's great and from others that it's awful. What do those of you who have both read the book and seen the movie suggest? Should I watch it? Will I like it? Hate it?
Let me know what you think.

Next up: The Piano Shop On The Left Bank by Thad Carhart


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