Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s taken me ages to be able to sit down and write a review for this book. I just couldn’t eatpraylovedecide whether I loved it or hated it! I’ve decided to meet myself halfway and am rating Eat Pray Love 3 stars, because there were parts I enjoyed and parts that I really hated.

Elizabeth Gilbert is in her 30s and having a bit of a breakdown. She appears to be living the dream New York lifestyle with a successful career, nice house and marriage, but she finds herself depressed and searching for God on the bathroom floor. This seems to be the catalysis for her quest, but it’s difficult to relate to her here, because she refuses to discuss the issues with her marriage at all.

So, she decides to take off for 12 months to find either God or herself. I’m still not really sure which one! Her itinerary includes Italy (to eat), India (to pray), and Indonesia (to love).

In Italy she learns Italian and eats a lot. This was my favourite section!

In India she prays at her guru’s ashram. This was the most boring section for me. The concept of a ‘guru’ who she never even meets is a bit far-fetched! Plus there was far too much navel-gazing and discussion of all the totally crazy thoughts that went through her mind here. I’ve got too much going on in my own mind to worry about anybody else’s! Although I did practice a little bit more yoga and meditation while I was reading this section, so that’s a bonus.

In Indonesia she apparently learns about love from a medicine man, raises money for an Indonesian woman to buy a house, and falls in love. I enjoyed Indonesia until Gilbert met her now husband. I feel like it took away from the empowering message the novel was attempting to convey by ending it with the author seemingly happy now because she’s found a man.

What I enjoyed most about Eat Pray Love was the writing style. Gilbert is a good writer and quite funny and endearing in parts. Although some parts really did tend towards narcissism, I don’t think that was the intent. I felt as though the novel was written with good intentions.

The biggest issue for me is that Gilbert’s lifestyle is so unattainable for the majority of the millions of people who have read Eat Pray Love. I’m sure everybody suffering from depression would love to take a 12 month paid vacation to travel around the world and then make millions of dollars by writing about their trip, but that’s just not going to happen for everyone. I would also like to point out that you really don’t need to go to so much effort to do similar things for yourself. You can treat yourself right where you are. Take a class at your local community centre, read a good book, listen to your favourite music, eat good food etc. You learn more about religion, yoga, meditation etc in your own city. And love the people you’re with right now. You also do not need a partner to be able to love yourself!!

Description

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Details

Title: Eat Pray Love

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Published: Riverhead Books, 2006

ISBN: 0143038419 (ISBN13: 9780143038412)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Travel, Spirituality

Pages: 334

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

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Not That Kind of Girl: Lena Dunham

Title: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” 7117777143_750e89853d_z

Author: Lena Dunham

Illustrator: Joana Avillez

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9499-5

E-Book ISBN: 978-0-8129-9500-8

Published: September 2014, Random House New York

My Rating: 4/5

My Thoughts:

Lena Dunham, star of HBO’s Girls first solo novel, Not That Kind of Girl, will be instantly recognizable to fans of the show as Hannah Hogarth’s book of essays.  The book almost reads like a really long series of unrelated Tweets and I can appreciate that this is something that readers in their 20’s are likely to feel more comfortable with than I was. I really did feel that I could have done without the chapter that solely consisted of Lena’s food diaries. Maybe I’m just old and don’t really get that part! What I did understand and emphasize with is the awkwardness of growing up and going through your 20’s, with all of the self doubt and hangups that go along with all of that. Lena has a knack for writing about  the gross and messy parts of life in such a self deprecating and matter of fact way that she manages me to feel positively normal. Not That Kind of Girl is incredibly self indulgent at times, but you’re meant to be self indulgent in your 20’s so that’s ok.

Lena Dunham has been dubbed ‘The Voice of her Generation’ but can an entire generation really have just one voice? I don’t think so, but I know that she is a voice, and a strong one at that. In between her sometimes inane musings she does make some pretty solid points that I wish I’d been told by someone clever and cool in my 20’s.

On love and relationships:

“When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.”

“You will find,” she says, “that there’s a certain grace to having your heart broken.”

“You’ve learned a new rule and it’s simple: don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from.”

On anxiety:

“I didn’t know why this was happening. The cruel reality of anxiety is that you never quite do. At the moments it should logically strike, I am fit as a fiddle. On a lazy afternoon, I am seized by a cold dread.”

On getting naked on TV:

“It’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you.”

On High School:

“that’s also how I felt in high school, sure that my people were from elsewhere and going elsewhere and that they would recognize me when they saw me.”

On Barbie:

“Barbie’s disfigured. It’s fine to play with her just as long as you keep that in mind.”

On female writers: 

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.”

And this stinging insult:

“D. J. Tanner called and she wants her wardrobe back so it can be included in a museum retrospective about the prime years of Full House.”

I particularly related to the chapter titled Girl Crush where Lena writes about her dislike for the term but admits to having girl crushes before. I have to admit that I have used the term girl crush to speak about women that I admire, but I have to agree that it really isn’t an appropriate term. Like Lena, I don’t have romantic feelings for these people and a lot them them aren’t necessarily women. But I also don’t want to be them the way that Lena describes. I think it would be more appropriate to say that they are people who I admire. Some of the people I admire are wildly rich and successful, but not all of them are. People I admire usually have a career that they enjoy doing and always know where they are heading and what they need to do to get there. When things go wrong they take it in their stride and do what they need to do to get themselves back on track. They always seem happy in their own skin and are comfortable with who they are and what they are doing. I definitely admire how brave Lena Dunham is for baring her soul (and her boobs) over and over again for the world to see and the way that she has turned her passion for writing into an extremely successful career. She obviously loves what she does and I will look forward to hearing more from her in the future. The memoir that she promised to write in her 80’s sounds like it will be hilarious.

Lena Dunham is someone that should consider following on Twitter

Visit here to purchase yourself a copy of Not That Kind of Girl. Let me know what you thought if you have a chance to read it and I’d also love to hear about what qualities you find yourself admiring in people?

Image uploaded to Flickr by Shankbone (2012) and shared under Creative Commons License. Visit here to view to original image.