Book Review: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

On my bookshelf, I have a collection of books that I call my "Core Readings." These are the books I’ve read and reread more times than I can count at various times in my life because they never cease to offer me something of value.

One of these books is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t remember how I found this book. My best guess would be that I came across it while browsing the shelves at my local library sometime in my late teens/early twenties. At the time, I was consistently reading a book a day and frequenting the library once a week to stock up on my daily books. 

I’ve always held to the principle that I’ll read anything at least once, though I definitely tend to gravitate toward specific genres—travel memoirs being one of them. So it’s no surprise that Eat Pray Love eventually made its way into my hands.

For those who aren’t familiar with this international bestseller, the story begins with Elizabeth Gilbert in her thirties, living what appears to be the American dream—a successful career, a beautiful home, and a seemingly happy marriage.

However, deep inside, she feels unfulfilled and trapped in a cycle of unhappiness. With the realization that she needs to make a change, Gilbert embarks on a year-long journey across Italy, India, and Indonesia to seek pleasure, spiritual devotion, and a balance between the two respectively.

The story is told in three parts encompassing short essays of her experiences in each of the three destinations she travels to in her year of seeking. 

The first part of her journey takes her to Italy, where she (re)discovers the sheer joy of indulging in the simple pleasures of life.

Her three-month trip to Italy is inspired entirely by her love of the Italian language and cuisine—which she indulges in without guilt (GASP!). Her rich, sensory descriptions and the clever metaphors she uses to describe her experiences are truly a poetic experience that immediately captured my attention—and my heart.

The second leg of her journey takes Gilbert to an ashram in India, where she immerses herself in the practice of yoga and meditation. Here, Gilbert delves deeper into her spiritual journey, grappling with inner demons and seeking guidance and solace. Through her interactions with fellow seekers, wise gurus, and the introspective practices of yoga and meditation, Gilbert starts to find inner peace and healing in ways that have continued to inspire me throughout the years since my first reading.

It’s this second part of the book that I find myself turning to the most as the wisdom found within it is truly life-changing and relatable in the way Gilbert expertly connects her raw, naked truths to yoga philosophy. 

The final part of her journey leads Gilbert to the island of Bali, Indonesia. Here, she encounters an eclectic group of individuals who become instrumental in her final steps toward self-discovery and total acceptance.

Though the main theme of this part of the book is about finding balance, I don’t feel like that’s something she actually accomplishes—which actually makes the book more relatable to me. I like that the ending is ultimately inconclusive (and I’m normally opposed to a lack of closure in stories).

It’s a helpful reminder that none of us will ever have all the answers—to the world or even to our own lives. We’re all just trying to figure it out one day at a time, and perhaps the real balance is learning to be okay with that.

Overall, I’m a firm believer that Eat Pray Love has something valuable to offer every kind of reader—especially in today’s never-slow-down, high-achievement culture. So if you haven’t read it already, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW! I promise you won’t regret it. 💖

Also, let me know in the comments below what "core books" you would recommend. What books have impacted your life in some way? I'd love to hear!

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