I finished reading The Princess Bride (more on that next week), and, as always happens when I finish a really great book, I struggle with what to read next.
For years, I've had Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love on my unread bookshelf. I've had so many people recommend it to me that I'm right 80% of the time when someone asks, "You know what book you should read?" Let me guess... Eat Pray Love? As a matter of fact, Stacy thought so strongly that I should read it that she bought me a copy back in 2007 when we were vacationing in Massachusetts.
But I still hadn't read it. On Thursday, I was chatting with Allison, and she said, "May I highly suggest you read EPL - ASAP?"
Fine. I can get hit over the head with a hammer and finally get it.
So I started reading today. And I love it. And I wonder why I didn't read it before. Probably because now was when I really needed to read it.
A few random thoughts and insights about Eat Pray Love:
- I so wish I had written this book. Gilbert's writing style is close to my own - but (sigh) better.
- The first page has this quotation: "Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth."
- I love how she structured the book around the traditional Indian japa malas beads - necklaces with 108 beads. Gilbert wrote 108 stories in her book. There's the whole magic of the number of 108 (it's a multiple of three, and its digits add up to nine, a trinity of threes).
- Along with the smart structure of the number of stories, I love how Gilbert floats back and forth in time to tell her stories - those of her travels and those of how she got there. It flows, and there's no confusion or awkwardness at all in the shifts in time. So smartly written.
- So much of Gilbert's story (at least through page 50) is my story. Here was one of the first pieces that touched me deeply:
"The many reasons I didn't want to be this man's wife anymore are too personal and too sad to share here. Much of it had to do with my problems, but a good portion of our troubles were related to his issues, as well. That's only natural; there are always two figures in a marriage, after all--two votes, two opinions, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires and limitations. But I don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss his issues in my book... I also will not discuss here all the reasons why I did still want to be his wife, or all his wonderfulness, or why I loved him, and why I had married him and why I was unable to imagine life without him. I won't open any of that. Let it be sufficient to say that, on this night, he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying."
- Gilbert has an amazing storytelling capability, but she is a magician when it comes to language. Hence, this excerpt:
"Then my heart stood up, brushed itself off, took a deep breath and announced: 'I want a spiritual teacher.' I literally mean it was my heart who said this, speaking through my mouth. I felt this weird division in myself, and my mind stepped out of my body for a moment, spun around to face my heart in astonishment and silently asked, 'You DO?'
'Yes,' replied my heart. 'I do.'
Then my mind asked my heart, a tad sarcastically: 'Since WHEN?'"
- Her explanation of why she wanted to learn Italian (and how the Italian language came to be) soooooo makes me want to learn Italian. Gaelic was top of the list, but Italian might overtake it.
- She's funny (which goes back to the first bullet point and my style and the quality of writing I strive for). One of many examples: "Giovanni is my Tandem Exchange Partner. That sounds like an innuendo, but unfortunately it's not." And an even better example: "After meeting the boys in person, I began to wonder if perhaps I should adjust my rule somewhat about remaining celibate this year. For instance, perhaps I could remain totally celibate except for keeping a pair of handsome twenty-five-year-old Italian twin brothers as lovers. Which was slightly reminiscent of a friend of mine who is vegetarian except for bacon, but nonetheless..." (Funny enough, it's the friend who's vegetarian except for bacon that sticks in my mind the most.)
- This last point is what made me close the book (temporarily) and get up to write this post. So many synchronicities. She talks about all she did to be positive and heal from the trauma the separation and divorce left her. Of all the things she mentions she did (prayer, therapy, Saint John's wort, and so much more), she ends this paragraph with this last example: "...carefully protected myself from sad movies, books and songs (if anyone even mentioned the words Leonard and Cohen in the same sentence, I would have to leave the room)."