No, it’s not that I’m hopelessly behind the times and am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonder of a travelogue for the first time. I’m on my second helping. This book is like candy that’s good for you.
When I first picked it up, I was turned off by Gilbert’s glib style. But I pressed on, curious about what made the book so popular. After my second read, I think I’d boil it down to this: It’s supremely organized, full of surprising (but not flowery) language, and—above all—it’s honest. Wonderfully, brutally honest.
For writers of travelogues, memoir or creative nonfiction, this last element is perhaps the most important. No matter how open one might be as a person—after all, some natural instinct drives us to write our personal stories—as a writer, with the blank page in front of you and the echo of several dozen voices in your head (or is that just me?), it’s hard not to consider how your mother, father, partner or friend might react to particular details about your own life. Or theirs.
That’s what I found courageous about Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert doesn’t hold back about the stuff that might embarrass the rest of us—crying until she had created a pool of tears and snot on the bathroom floor; confessing that, at 31, she really didn’t want a baby; sharing her messy emotional process as she tried to recover from divorce. And somehow, she makes all of that funny.
Her adventures and misadventures through Italy, India and Indonesia offer an amazing escape and some really good life lessons along the way.
When it comes to living your life the best way possible, how can you beat her advice? Eat, pray, love, she says.
Sounds good to me.
Click here to purchase Eat, Pray, Love on Amazon.