Sunday, May 14, 2006

Eat, Pray ,Love:One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

Subject:Travel/Personal Memoirs/Women
Publishing Date: February 16, 2006/Viking
Synopsis: (Powells)A celebrated writer's irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life.

Here's the scenario: You're 35 years old, you've just been through a very trying time and need some cheering up. Money is no factor, what would you do? I took less than two seconds to come up with my answer - I would travel the world! Travel is the answer to all my woes, and apparently Elizabeth Gilbert agrees with me for that's what she did when she found her marriage was crumbling and her personal life becoming one long, sad story. She then recorded the journey to find herself, in a touching book called "Eat Pray Love".

She started out in Rome, Italy where she found solace in gelatos (and all those foods health pundits tell you are bad for you) and sexy- as-hell Italian men. I had often wondered why so many people chose Italy to start anew, now I know! :) Next she travelled to India where she stayed in an Ashram , somewhere in the back of beyond, renewing her spiritual self. Her quest to learn to meditate and her meanderings on philosophy are actually quite interesting to read. Finally, she ends up in lush Bali where she does the very thing she swore she wouldn't - she falls in love again! Her descriptions of the Balinese people, their culture, society and especially their medicine people are so entertaining and informative.

The book has been uniquely divided into 108 tales to represent the 108 beads of the "Japa Mala" which is a string of beads used by Hindus and Buddhists for centuries to assist them in staying focused during prayerful meditation.

I love Elizabeth Gilbert's writing; her willingness to show her vulnerability along her road to self-discovery and her self-depracating humor endears one to her story. There is a lot of food for thought in this gem of a book and I especially like the argument she makes for doing what you love versus what society expects you to do. Along the way she meets a whole host of interesting people whose conversations she records in her book, making for very interesting reading.

For instance, on page 103, her friend Luca Spaghetti (isn't that a great name?) explains to her that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there.

"...if you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be- that is the word of the city. And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there."

According to Luca, SEX was Rome's word and for the Vatican it is POWER. In New York City the word is ACHIEVE, in Stockholm its CONFORM, in Naples it is FIGHT and so on. I tried to think of a word that might define Ontario, where I live, and I think an accurate one for it might be CIVIL. People are so awfully polite and well-mannered here that as a visitor you might be prompted to think an outbreak of "sorryitis" has hit the province!

What's the word for your city?

And, if you're having fun with that, we can extend it to ourselves - what is the one word that would describe you completely? I have realized I am a lifelong learner, but I also like to inform, so I am not sure if there's one word that would describe that for me. If you think of something, let me know! :)

Update: For another review and a take that is slightly different from mine, please refer to Zee's Space where my friend and fellow blogger, ml, has done an excellent job writing down her thoughts on the book.


Rebecca H. said...

This book is on my to-be-read list definitely! It sounds great.

Lotus Reads said...

It is, Dorothy. I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and how much I learned in the process. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Yianna said...

Hi! It's Joanna from Karma Canyon. Thanks for the email and the link to your blog. So far, I love the Gilbert book. I had read some of her magazine profiles plus the biography she wrote called "The Last American Man." She's a great writer and it's interesting to see her turn the lens on herself this time. Your blog looks great. Will visit again..
Meanwhile, have fun reading!!

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Hi Lotus, Just skimming through the title itself sounds delicious and fascination with both qualities tightly rolled into one. Now, this is what I call SEDUCTION.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Correction: Lotus...shame on me! Look at my English...I meant fascinating, not fascination.

Susan in Italy said...

I think no matter what city I live in I would (and do) revel in being among those who have a different word in our heads.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Joanna!

Thanks so much for visiting. I noticed you were reading this book and I thought it would be interesting to share our thoughts on it. I will be heading over to your blog now to see if you have added to your review.

I haven't read "The Last American Man" but having enjoyed this book so much, I am sorely tempted to!

Hi, Suse

Mmmmmm, SEDUCTION, now that's a really nice word! ;)

Lotus Reads said...

Susan, you rebel, you! :)

Tracy said...

Hi Lotus,

Thanks for the kind note you left on my blog today. I so appreciate your prayers for my Dad.



Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Hi Lotus, how did your second creative writing class go? Are you working on any particular project? love

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Suse!

Thanks so much for asking - we were introduced to the art of writing short stories in my last class. I started on one but I haven't written anything in the last few days.

Thanks so much for the interest and for keeping me facing forward when it comes to this class. I might post some of the rules of short story writing and maybe a couple of paragraphs of the story I am working on.

Thanks again Susan, you are a gem!

Skimmed your latest post but it looked so good I thought I would come back at leisure to savour it. Your writing is now in a totally different league altogether. You're doing a brilliant job! Every morning I look forward to having my breath taken away with a beautiful post from you, thanks!


Booklogged said...

Another book that sounds like a must read. I haven't read any of Gilbert's work, but from the comments made I think I will enjoy her.

Unknown said...

How cool! I love travelling. If only money was no object!

Lotus Reads said...

Angela, you travel so much you could write your own book! :)

Books and Tea For Two said...

I am nearly finished this book (I have been so so busy!) I am not sure if I liked its much as you, but the word thing was certainly food for thought. Sydney, where I live, would probably the word 'fresh'.

Unknown said...

I just finished the book and searched blogs for other's opinions and came upon your page. That book rocked!!!

Lotus Reads said...

Nice to see you here, bezen8!

I will be looking for your review on "Eat,Pray,Love". It will be great to read a different take on it, besides, you write really nice reviews. I love the word you picked for Sydney; it has nice connotations.

Hi, Sharon!

Thanks for the visit! I took a look at your blog. You do some amazing work...I will have to stop by again on the weekend for a longer visit. Glad you liked the book, doesn't it make you want to read other books by her?

Anonymous said...

If were to describe myself in one word, it might be Giver.Your choice of Life Long Learner is just perfect!
Gilberts' Book has beed added to MTR.

StarStar said...

I LOVED this book. It was so absolutley wonderful. Always good to see it get more attention.

Lotus Reads said...

Hello Starstar and welcome!

I agree, I thoroughly enjoyed the book although I will warn readers that the section on India has the tendency to drag just a little.

Awww, love the profile picture, what a cutie! :)

karmic said...

Lovely review. By the way I agree that travel is a way to ease a lot of ills.
Word for ourselves..
I call myself a sponge, i just absorn a lot of things in the world around me. And like a sponge I don't retain much ;)

Lotus Reads said...

hahhaha,Sanjay,yup,sponge is a good word for me, too! I think I suffer from information overload at times.

Bibliochef said...

I agree India dragged a bit -- though I found it the most important to thinking about things other than self indulgence. See my comments at

missy said...

Don't beleive everything you read. Says at

Anonymous said...

hey missy, I read the same article at, except the link was

Anonymous said...

I love this book. I was going through a hard time in my life and this book really helped me find myself. It also encouraged me to do yoga at a local yoga studio which has really changed my disposition on my life and also to really love myself in and out. She is a great writer and a great example to women at any age who need encouragement and inspiration in their life.

Robin Pedrero said...

I just finished reading the book. I love it! Now that I am done I keep getting the urge to call Elizabeth like she's a close friend becasue I kinda miss her. I am going to blog on the book also, there's so much to respond to.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that India was slow for others too. Thats where I am right now, and i must say I'm a bit disappointed that I'm not as excited to read this book as i was when I was reading about her time in Italy. Can't wait to get to her time in Bali!

Andrew DiMola said...

I respectfully disagree with your opinions. I, for one, kept yawning the entire time i read this book, and i couldn't find any motivation to continue it. I thought it would give me inspiration to live my life to the fullest after the death of my grandfather, but it only made me regret the life and path i have shamefully led.