Bloomsbury Publishing. 348 pages.
**The photo cover of the book above is a Penguin books copy, but the book I have is published in Australia–though it looks exactly the same.**
Have you read a book that has taken you places? This surely is a useless question. But really, have you ever read a book, that has really REALLY taken you to all places–geographical, emotional, and spititual?
This, by the way, is a non-fictional memoir of the author on her year-long journey to find herself. “Finding oneself” is a phrase often overused yet not fully understood. She’s just come out from a stressful divorce and affair–vulnerable, scathed and drained. So she decides to take a year off and get away from it all. She divides her year in 3 countries, 4months in each:
EAT- she has always wanted to learn Italian, so she heads of to Rome. This first part of her journey is about all pleasures of life–most of all gustatory. She travels Italy in search for the perfect pizza. After four months, she gains not only pounds and calories but friends, language, and insight as well.
PRAY-from Italy she sets off to India and enrolls herself in her Guru’s Ashram. This is the spiritual part of her journey. Learning to be at peace with herself through meditation and chanting. And though she gets to know more people yet again in this leg of her travel, the character she got to know more in-depth was herself.
LOVE-she heads to Bali, Indonesia to try to search for balance between her pleasure/hedonistical and spiritual finds. Spending most of her days with 2 spiritual healers, this last leg is mostly about giving back and helping others. Most of all, it’s here where she finds love again.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the “Italy” and “Indonesia” part more than “India”. But countries and cities aside, I really enjoyed reading this book–Elizabeth Gilbert writes honestly, (though sometimes her raw emotions are getting to be repetitive in the beginning and middle part of the book), wittily, and is charmingly (but not overly) insecure throughout that you just can’t help but feel like wanting to be her BFF.
Whether you are single, married or divorced–looking or not looking for love (or have found it)–there are many many insights to learn from this book. I won’t mention all but chief among them is loving and knowing one’s self. For you to truly love another, or even just help another human being–you have to know and find peace within yourself. You have to be okay with the company of just yourself. **I’m proud to say that though there are a lot of other people that are dear to me and I love deeply, I am okay with the company I keep. I have ‘befriended’ myself long ago and thus have learnt to enjoy being on my own when needed**
In a wrong point of view, it may sound narcissistic but learning how to care, love and enjoy oneself is the greatest strength we all have–we just have to find it.
I’m just loving, loving loving this book. Read it. It will change the way you eat, pray and love.
***The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, will have a special interview with Oprah on October 5, 2007***