Book Shelf: Eat, Pray, Love

I’ve found that if you mention, even think perhaps, the words “Eat, Pray, Love,” somebody in the vicinity will have something to say about it. I remember reading the book when it just got big and totally connecting with the fact that I wanted to learn Italian. I think I may have just barely been in highschool, though, so most everything else I didn’t care so much about. Well, I’ve been on this travel reading kick lately and I knew I had to go back and read it.

Eat Pray Love Book

Synopsis from Goodreads: “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.”

Eat

It’s another ’round the world trip, you see, so maybe I wanted to be inspired. The first few chapters, I was not having it. I’ve never been through a divorce, so what do I know about how much you should cry/how much you talk about finances/etc? But I think, just maybe, if that whole chunk was shortened a little bit I would like this book a whole lot more! Approximately half of the section that was supposed to be about Italy was spent crying on the bathroom floor. Let’s throw that in a preface and spend more time with the Italians and the eating, si?

Italian Man

Gianni! An Italian man in the flesh. Well. Pixels.

Pray

Skipping ahead to India, because that seems to be the trend, we find ourselves in an ashram. We meet an awesome guy named Richard who calls Liz “Groceries” and helps her find her way to enlightenment. First of all, I wish a had a Richard around, spouting gems of wisdom at every turn. Good deal! Secondly, I know a lot of people who really embrace meditation and have had such success with it. I am not one of those people. I understand the concept of wanting to find that enlightenment, but I just can’t actually wrap my brain around the process. This whole section seems to be about inner demons and that elusive enlightenment to send them away. I don’t want to spoil anything, but she finds it in four months. On a rooftop, nonetheless!

Love

We enter the Bali section when Liz is finding her way to a medicine man’s abode. She met him long ago and he said she would return. He’s wonderful. Then a bit later, she meets another woman who is a healer. Liz then spends most of her time with this woman. This woman is also awesome to read about! She goes to a party and meets the man of her dreams. My goodness. I got to this part and this roller coaster of “Love, Hate, Love” took a nose-dive. OF COURSE she would achieve enlightenment and then find the man of her dreams in Bali. Because on a journey to find yourself, it’s gotta end like a fairy tale, am I right? Yikes.

Thing 1 & 2

Does it mean I’ve found myself and achieved bliss, now that we have these shirts?

Negatives aside, what did I like? The characters she meets along the journey are all people that I would like to get to know! Also, visiting Indonesia/Bali is something that I’d really consider. Gilbert does have a way of describing people and scenery and I really enjoyed that. Really, that’s what I was after in the first place. Technically, then, I’ve achieved my reading goal. It’s wonderful that she was able to write a memoir and have (most) people respond so well to it.

Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars

I just cannot get out of this three star rut. I hear that she has a follow-up book to this called Committed. I might have to take a breather before I read that one, though! Somebody, please recommend a travel book to me! Maybe one that will give me a four star feeling? 🙂

Have you read/seen Eat, Pray, Love? Which camp do you fall into?

Which of Liz’s destinations would you most like to visit?

Book Shelf: The Lost Girls

I don’t just read about travel. I read about everything under the sun, and I like it that way! But because this is steering more in the direction of “travel blog,” I try to keep my book posts at least somewhat travel related. For this book, I don’t think I could have gotten more travel-related. Enter The Lost Girls, by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, and Amanda Pressner. That’s right, there’s an Amanda.

The Lost Girls

The tagline reads: Three friends, four continents, one unconventional detour around the world. Basically, all three of the girls are nearing that ancient age of 28 and are feeling smothered by the working/getting married world of New York City. So they decide to go around the world for one year with each other and actually follow through on it. Definitely different from my last book, I was excited to follow their journeys and get a heavy dose of wanderlust.

It’s a sizable book (542 pages). What else would you expect from a year memoir from three different girls? That didn’t bother me at all. More travel reading for me, right? The three go through their ups and downs and discover how to travel with each other. Learning how to balance work and play is a big one, as is learning how to handle a long distance relationship. These two things totally resonated with me because I love looking at relationships between people and I’ll be doing the long distance situation in the coming years.

Eiffel Tower

Heee’s gonna be jeaaaalous. At least he got to go to Paris!

The writing in the book was decent! They had all worked in writing one way or another, so it seemed they had a handle on that. I easily read it in not too much time. One thing that I didn’t like so much is how it all sounded like one person. Each chapter was from a different girl’s perspective, but it all sounded and looked the same. Remember, this is a long book…so that got a tad old and dragging. What happened to the days of names and voices differing, a la Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?

Sisterhood Traveling Pants

Yup, I read it before the movie took over the cover.

One final thing: that wanderlust I was yakking on about? I actually didn’t find it in this book, which completely surprises me. There is a period of time that they are volunteering with young girls, and that is the only time I felt an urge of, “I would like to do that!” I’m not sure if it’s because it didn’t focus so much on the place as it did their thoughts and feelings, or what. Perhaps it was because they sped through a lot of destinations and left out some (what I think would be) awesome parts of travel. It was a whirlwind and after I finished reading, I didn’t feel like I had traveled anywhere with them. That bummed me out!

Even though I wasn’t completely satisfied with the read, it definitely got me excited about taking a journey similar to this myself. Maybe I won’t write a book, but I blog for a reason. 😉 In this case, I would have much rather read a blog about the places they went. They started a blog too, though, so I’ll have to do some poking around!

Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars

Honestly, maybe I was too excited to read this and put it on too high of a pedestal. It just didn’t hit the travel mark for me, and that’s all I wanted!

Have you ever read The Lost Girls? How do you feel about reading travel books? Sometimes I think I might expect beautiful blog posts with gorgeous pictures. Maybe my imagination is the problem. 😉

Book Shelf: The White Tiger

A few weeks ago (it very well may have been less that 10 days ago) on Twitter, I saw a hashtag that got me so pumped. It was #travelbookclub, and let me tell you, I jumped all over that one. I may not be traveling right now, but why can’t I READ about traveling? Yes please, sign this book worm up.

So I immediately added all of their past and present books onto my Goodreads “To-Read” shelf. And I’ve already finished the one for this month.

The White Tiger

Synopsis from Goodreads.com: “Set in a raw and unromanticized India, The White Tiger—the first-person confession of a murderer—is as compelling for its subject matter as it is for the voice of its narrator: amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing.”

I got through this one fairly quickly! It wasn’t a full-throttle page turner, but it held my interest for sure! It was one of those books where I enjoyed it while reading it, but then when it came time to finish it up, I just wasn’t satisfied.

A few quick thoughts:

  • Balram (/Munna/The White Tiger) is the narrator of the book, writing to a Chinese official to tell him of India. I appreciated the picture painted of India. I could really feel it. Now, I haven’t been to India so if this is accurate at all, I would not be the best to say. But as a setting, it was very effective!
  • The relationships were so very interesting. Granted, we only get to see one side of them, but still. Balram’s relationship with the “masters” in his life are probably the most interesting to me.
  • When I got to the murdering part, I felt like the book just ran away on me and I couldn’t get it back. Perhaps that’s how it is supposed to feel?
  • Something about his family relationships didn’t make as much sense to me. But it’s very likely that that was only because it is so different from what I’m used to.
  • There was definitely a plot and it wasn’t impossible to follow, even with it being in a letter-writing form.

I give it 3/5 STARS

As a piece that really has something to say about India, I would give this book closer to five stars. Something about the writing style, I think, just left me feeling unsettled at the end of the book!

I look forward to seeing what other readers have to say, but I don’t think the actual discussion takes place until later this month. I can try to mention it on here when I figure it out so that anybody who happens to read this can see that as well!

Have you ever read The White Tiger?

What’s on your shelf right now?