Page Turners: Eat, Pray, Love – January’s Book Club Selection!

With the start of the new year I decided to join in with the Page Turners book club that my blogger friends Shelly from DIY Mama and Lisa from ExpandNG have started. The reasons that I decided to take part in this are many, one of them being that I just love to read, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to expand my horizons and maybe read something that I would not normally read on my own.

Page Turners

Page Turners

The book selection for January was the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I know that this was a highly popular book, but since it is not normally a genre that I read, I have never read it. Here is a brief synopsis of the book, taken 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.

Now the great thing about this online book club is that each of the host’s offer three questions on their blogs to start a discussion on the book…(Beware possible spoiler alert!)

Here are Shelly’s questions…

1.Travel is a big theme throughout Eat Pray Love. I can’t go without discussing it! Liz learned to just ‘be’ in Italy, learned how to be completely devoted in India and take the leap to mending her broken heart in Bali. Do you think people are more open to new experiences when they travel? And why?

I think so, yes! In some parts it could be because traveling allows opportunities for adventure and bringing someone out of what would be their “comfort zone”.

2.Sitting in an outdoor café in Rome, Gilbert’s friend declares that every city-and every person-has a word. Rome’s is “sex,” the Vatican’s “power”; Gilbert declares New York’s to be “achieve,” but only later stumbles upon her own word, antevasin, Sanskrit for “one who lives at the border.” What is your word? Is it possible to choose a word that retains its truth for a lifetime? (Questions issued by publisher.) What is your current word?

I think that this is a wonderful concept, and something that I have never really given much thought to. To come up with a word to sum me up, I think that I might say it would be “strength”. I think strength, because I am the glue that give our family its strength and holds it together, through thick and thin.
My current word for 2015 is “focus”, because I want this year to be the year that I find mine. Focus in all aspects of my life.

3.Which, of Liz’s three ‘I’ countries would you like to visit? Which country do you think you would benefit most from?

I think that for me, Italy would be the one that I would feel the least anxious about visiting. The other two, would send my anxiety into overload. However, there is some part of me that thinks Indonesia would give me more focus on my spiritual faith, which has always been strong but would allow me to concentrate on it more fully.

Now for Lisa’s questions…

1. While in Italy, Liz writes that while she went to Italy to experience pleasure, she doesn’t know how. She even writes that “Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an experience-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one.” Do you think this is true? Do you experience pleasure? What gives you pleasure?

I think that to some degree it is true for some, but not for everyone. I think that some can and do experience true pleasure, like the true pleasure of setting eyes on your child for the first time or watching the true wonder as that child experiences each new triumph as they grow.
Yes, I do experience pleasure…with each laugh, hug, kiss, or “I Love You” from my kids, and watching them splash in the ocean for the very first time as we watch the sun come up over the horizon. My pleasure comes from the kids, reading a good book, dancing to my favorite song, and even eating a gooey chocolate brownie covered with powdered sugar. As I have experienced life’s ups and downs, I have learned to take my pleasures in the simple things.

2. In Bali, Liz has a dream where Swamiji (her Guru’s Guru) asks Liz to stop the ocean waves from coming ashore. Liz begins to sketch inventions in a journal, and when she finally gives up, Swamiji just laughs and asks, “How exactly were you planning on stopping that?” And then the chapter ends, and Liz doesn’t mention it again. I wonder why she even mentioned it in the first place. How would you have responded to Swamiji’s challenge to stop the waves?

I think that the true response was more of the mind and not at all physical. I would kind of describe it as more of a faith based action.

3. It seems that for most of the book, Liz doesn’t experience that much hardship or trouble. Not to say her divorce wasn’t soul-crushing and the depths of her depression weren’t deep, but the rest of the book unfolded too perfectly. It wasn’t until Bali that SOMEthing actually happened — she suspected her Balinese friend, Wayan, was B.S. and wasn’t going to use the money Liz raised for her to buy a house before Liz left Bali. Did you think the memoir was too perfect? How do you think Liz handled the situation with Wayan?

I don’t necessarily think that it was too perfect, but I could never have allowed the demons to rule me. I learned through my own life experiences that everything happens for a reason and no matter how difficult the issue might be, overcoming the difficulties will only make me stronger and wiser.
I would have definitely handled the situation with Wayan, in much the same way. But that is mostly because I am the type of person who rarely asks for help and I feel that to get help from others, one should do all that they can to help themselves first.

Now for my own thoughts on this book, I have to say that I liked it and I am glad that I read it. I was a bit nervous at first, because while I have a strong and unwavering faith, I am not comfortable with too much “God” talk. I have never been comfortable with organized religion. Many of the points that she talked about really kind of hit home with me, because of the simple faith that she talked about during her stay in India. My strong faith allows me to love others without judgment, no matter their race, religion, or sexual preference. I love hearing about other people’s journeys through their own faith and find that it helps me grow as I come to understand those journey’s. It has even helped to solidify my own needs and desires in finding my own focus on my life.

February’s selection is titled, “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared!” by Jonas Jonasson

Have you read this book? What did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!