I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love. I had mentioned it earlier on my Give the Gift of Enlightenment post as an excellent idea for a gift for spiritual seekers. My reading of it has only enhanced my enthusiasm. It is an profound, uplifting and touching book.
I’m generally not a fan of biography and memoir. What makes this one an exception is that the writing is so witty and fun to read. I was delighted with her language, her quotations, her stories and examples. The quality of the writing carried me through.
The book is a record of a year-long spiritual odyssey taken by Gilbert to re-build her life after a catastrophic divorce and equally catastrophic affair. She divides the time equally between Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali specifically). In Italy, she focuses on pleasure (partucularly the pleasure of eating), and learning to allow herself to experience enjoyment.
In India, the focus is spiritual (as one might expect). In Bali – where she has been invited to visit a Balanese medicine man, the focus is on balancing material pleasures with spiritual insights, and also becomes a place for the renewal of her romantic interests.
I have to admit that the sexuality discussions are a bit beyond my usual preference, but there were only a few passages where the sharing was a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, the honesty she uses in the sexuality topic is very welcome when applied to illuminating the spiritual and emotional ups and downs of the story.
Some people, based on the reviews, really dislike the book, because they really dislike the self-absorbsion and focus of Gilbert’s memoir. But as a generally inward-focused person myself, I can relate. Gilbert shows you who she IS, not who you WANT her to be.
After a few days listening to the audio version, I went and checked out the book from the library, simply because I wanted to copy down some of the superb quotes she manages to find to illustrate the narrative. Also, if you are interested in the audio version, you’ll be pleased to find that Gilbert reads her own book, which in her case is a significant asset. She has a wonderful reading voice that adds to the enjoyment.
So I stand by my original recommendation. It’s a wonderful book and any spiritual seeker should enjoy it tremendously. If you are unfamiliar with Gilbert, let me recommend listening to her talk at the Ted talks (which I’ve liked below). In fact, the talk below is what inspired me to read her book. Enjoy.