30DBC: Day 29 – A Book Everyone Hated But You Liked

Why the 30 Day Book Challenge chooses such a topic on its penultimate day, I don’t know. I thought this might fit better in the earlier days. But, let’s talk about it nonetheless. I think a book everyone hated but I still liked is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love.

This autobiography follows Elizabeth Gilbert’s soul-searching journey after leaving her husband and career behind. She examines different aspects of herself against the background 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. This journey, she hopes, will ultimately bring her the inner balance she’s been longing for.

I guess I can see why everybody hates this book. After all, why would anybody want to read about precious, privileged woman who is unsatisfied with her life and then claims to feel enlightened after going on a self-involved trip, right? Well , I did. I was at a stage when I needed to feel like I not alone through the chaos of life. So, akin to talking to a friend, I sat down and listened to Elizabeth tell me her story. And, with pleasure, she took me to Italy, where she heals her body through the pleasures of food; then to India, where she meditates and prays; finally to Bali, Indonesia, where she completes her healing and finds new love.

And I liked it! I guess it was my first (and last) time reading this sort of book so it was a unique experience. On the surface, this book is a really entertaining travel essay. It was interesting to follow what she does in each country and tries to make the most of what each culture has to offer. Gilbert has a quirky way of describing things and light-hearted humour. She was like this young girl finally freed and liberated to see and explore the world with a child-like excitement and an old soul.

I like how Gilbert was honest and sincere. She was open about her weakness and vulnerability. It’s not like she was trying to impose her choices to us. She did not try to sound wise or as though she has figured everything out. Instead, she was letting us in, sharing what has happened in her life. In fact, she admitted and accepted herself and her potential weakness from the very beginning. And I find her personal awareness and acceptance refreshing and brave.

I also knew somehow that this respite of peace would be temporary. I knew that I was not yet finished for good, that my anger, my sadness, and my shame would all creep back eventually, escaping my heart and occupying my head once more. I knew that I would have to keep dealing with these thoughts again and again until I slowly and determinedly changed my whole life. And that this would be difficult and exhausting to do. But my heart said to my mind in the dark silence of that beach: “I love you, I will never leave you, I will always take care of you.”

Also, I like the three things that Gilbert chooses to reflect on. I, too, believe that eating, praying, and loving are the most important pillars of a person’s life. (albeit not the same religion) The book was all about asking the simple question, “what do I want?” And for someone who doesn’t usually think of herself, I found this attitude new and exhilarating. In fact, there were some points which I found to be quite enlightening. The following quote is one example of such.

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it… And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.

Truly, I’m not sure why everyone has such strong feelings against this book. Hmm.. I like the book more than the movie, if it helps. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s a book that shouldn’t be over-analysed. Just take it as it is. After all, it’s meant to be a memoir. It’s not supposed to be an inspirational book, a travel catalogue, a fictional novel, or a self-help book. Gilbert was merely sharing what happened to her. If you have something to take home from that, that’s good. Otherwise, we can at least be happy that her soul-searching was fruitful for her, right?

Well, that’s all that I have to say for now. Please do drop by Cumuloquoise‘s page. She actually likes Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance and Other Essays.” If you want to find out why, click here! 🙂

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