Eat. Pray. Love. Read. Rinse. Repeat.

Every once in a while, I like to go down to my local Borders bookstore where I:

a) blow the college funds on trash fiction and vanilla lattes
b) take a little break from the kids and the house
c) regain my sanity
d) all of the above

hmmm…oh, yes…OPTION D….

Anyway, I’d been seeing this book, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert displayed prominently on the nonfiction shelves for quite a long time, and I kept avoiding it. Why? Well, first of all, it’s nonfiction, and I have only a certain amount of time to read during the week, and I prefer to spend it on fiction or poetry. And second of all, it looked suspiciously like a self-help book, and I’ve grown a bit tired of all the self help literature out there. At some point, you have to stop READING about how to fix yourself, and just… FIX yourself already.

Anyway, so I avoided this book, until my mother-in-law (the one who wishes I was dead) recommended it to me.

At first, I was all suspicious. After all, she had just told me that she’d never used iceberg lettuce in her life and had no idea how to break it up and mix it in with the Romaine lettuce. Why would I listen to her literary recommendations? She can’t even rip open a head of lettuce. (Or perhaps the truth is, she can, but she wants me to think differently. She wants me to think she never fed her kids iceberg lettuce because iceberg lettuce is the BASTARD CHILD of all lettuces, and no self-respecting mother would ever put that in front of her children. Maybe she was just trying to unbalance me, make me feel like a bad mother.)

But then after the whole lettuce incident, she showed me this book and said: you can keep the book; it’s not something I need to keep on my shelves. And so I did, because 1) free books are just too good to pass up, and 2) she liked it, but not enough to keep, which meant that the book definitely had possibilities.

So, I took it home with me, and let me tell you: IT’S A KEEPER.

 This book chronicles a year in the life of Elizabeth Gilbert, award-winning writer, who has just come through a bitter divorce in which she lost everything. She takes a year off of life to travel to three countries, Italy, India, and Bali. In each of the three places, she learns everything she possibly can about three things: pleasure in Italy, prayer in India, and balance in Bali.

Gilbert has an excellent sense of humor, and truly takes you with her on each part of her journey. Here’s an excerpt from one little moment in Italy when she and a friend travel to Naples because another friend of hers there told her to go to a certain small pizzeria that makes, quite simply, the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. 

Giovanni passed along the name of the place with such seriousness and intensity, I almost felt I was being inducted into a secret society. He pressed the address into the palm of my hand and said, in gravest confidence, “Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me later and tell me that you did.

So Sofie and I have come to Pizzeria da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered — one for each of us — are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she’s having a metaphysical crisis about it, she’s begging me, “Why do they even bother trying to make pizza in Stockholm? Why do we even bother eating food at all in Stockholm?”

All’s I’m sayin’ is: that’s gotta be some damn good pizza. Kinda makes me want to go to Naples. Like, tomorrow, perhaps.

After four months of pure sinful EATING in Italy, Gilbert goes off to an ashram in India where she changes gears and gets down to the business of fully experiencing all that a life of prayer has to offer. It takes her some time to get used to it, to clear her mind, and this is why I love her. Her early experiences with meditation remind me of my own, here in my house with a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, where every 5 minutes or so, someone is calling: MOM? Hey, Mom? Mom! Mom? There you are, Mom!

These aren’t the right years for me to attempt any sort of serious meditation, I guess.

After four months in India, Gilbert moves on to Bali where she spends the rest of the year keeping company with a wise old medicine man, a young woman who’s also a healer, and an intriguing older Brazilian man named Felipe. All of them teach her valuable lessons about family, love, and balance.

If you haven’t read this one yet, go out and get it. It’s worth every cent and every minute. And it definitely deserves a place on your shelves afterwards, no matter what my mother-in-law thinks. And about that iceberg lettuce, I asked RegularDad about it, and he assures me that all they ate when he was a kid was iceberg lettuce. Drizzled with bacon bits and some sort of dressing laced with high fructose corn syrup.

Guess she didn’t unbalance me after all.


5 Responses to “Eat. Pray. Love. Read. Rinse. Repeat.”

  1. 1 rae June 21, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I loved this book! My mother (who wishes me only MUCH different rather than dead) bought the book for my sisters. I had to buy mine mydangself – and I was with her when she bought the book for my sisters. Anyway, it’s definitely a keeper.

  2. 2 Katherine June 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    One can FEEL the dysfunction of any older woman standing in your kitchen telling you she never fed her kids iceberg in the 70s. (Were you people alive in the 70s?) Ok, early 80s. In the United Fucking States of America there was nothing BUT iceberg lettuce. Everyone knows that we weren’t introduced to real lettuce until after AIDS hit, “the gays” got fed up and liberated themselves, and we all found out about the food the rest of the word has apparently been eating forever. Did she try to tell you she fed them pesto instead? (snort, as if.)

    Clearly, she lies, but perhaps she functions in the realm of profound denial? Either way, if she occasionally turns you on to a great book she can’t be all bad.

    (Sound of door slamming as I screech off to Barnes n Noble.)

  3. 3 Lynn June 21, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I was thinking the same thing about iceberg (lettuce) in the 70’s”! Back then, all you ever saw was Bastard Lettuce!

    (Sound of mouse clicking as I screech off to Amazon.)

  4. 4 RegularMom June 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Dudes, I am seriously, literally LOL right now. You all ROCK! It IS true what they say: blogging is so much cheaper than therapy. 🙂

    Happy reading. 🙂

  5. 5 Mom #1 June 22, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I read that book a while back. Apparently I’m not nearly as intelligent or observant as the rest of your readers, because I didn’t pick up on the iceberg lettuce thing. But that is SO true!

    Actually I read part one with extreme vigor, dawdled a bit in part two, and pretty much fizzled out an didn’t finish part three.

    I will go ahead and admit it right out loud. I’m shallow. If there isn’t any extreme indulgence of food, sex or drink by the first couple of chapters . . . I’m done.

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