Eat, Pray, Love: The Mindful Tourist Book Review
We had resisted reading this book for a very long time. It was too popular for us to like it, we thought. Who hadn’t read this book, we thought? Consider our snobby selves taught a lesson. We liked it, we really liked it!
If you have been living on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific with no internet, tv, etc. (wait, this is starting to sound good…) then it’s still unlikely that you haven’t heard of the Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon. If you want a socially conscious travel take on this book, click through. If you’ve heard enough of the book and the author, we feel you and apologize for making you read those three little words yet again.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this memoir after a year-long trip to Italy, India, and Bali. She uses this trip to heal from a crisis period in her life and it works quite well. In Italy, she rents an apartment in Rome, meets a Roman man with whom she meets regularly at a little café so each may practice the other’s language. She also travels around the country, taking overnight trips to several cities and towns, including Naples, Sicily, and Venice. One of the best practical traveler takeaways in this section of the book is to emulate Gilbert’s habit of asking locals where the best food is and asking the restaurant staff to simply bring her the best dishes of the day. She finds this is the way to connect with the local people and to find and eat the freshest and most delicious food.
Gilbert then travels to India to stay in her guru’s ashram. Yes, that sounds pretty weird and being our cynical selves, we were a little skeptical of this part of the trip and the book. However, we found ourselves interested in this spiritual journey of hers and buying into some of what she experienced. We tried to use our own advice about being open to new experiences when traveling while reading this part of the book: just accepting, not criticizing. While we probably won’t follow in her footsteps on this leg of the journey, it was an interesting read nonetheless.
Finally, Gilbert travels to Bali, Indonesia where she had previously and briefly met a Balinese medicine man who asked her to return to spend time with him. Here, she rents a house, bonds with some local folks in pretty remarkable ways, and yes, spends a lot of time with the medicine man. Even though the name of the book led us to assume there was “love” involved on the last leg of the trip, we weren’t aware what type of love it would consist of (until our friend let it slip: “have you gotten to the part where ….?” - thanks, Katie!). We won’t ruin it for you, dear reader, but let’s just say it’s a happy ending, interpret that phrase as you like.
As is wont in memoirs, sometimes the author adores herself a little too much. It’s easy to skim over those parts and continue reading her otherwise funny and descriptive story. Overall, we are pleased that Gilbert wrote the book and even more pleased we finally read it.