Eat Pray Love is one of those books that I assume most of the population has either heard of, read or seen the movie by now (after all, it's on Netflix). I have to admit that I saw the movie before I read the book. The story was so beautiful and real and I was so drawn to it so I went and read the book almost immediately. The first time I read it was around 2010 or 2011. As much as I loved it, I wouldn't say reading it really changed my life in any way. I was in my first serious relationship and it was just at the time before it went sour. I read it as fiction; a lovely story to help those who aren't happy. I did relate to the character in small ways and I always wanted to travel the world, but it felt like a different life.
Years later I felt called to reconnect with this book. After putting it away for 7 years I felt like there was something in this book for me to rediscover. It was a couple of months after my father passed away and I had decided to go away to Hawaii for five months with my partner. I needed time to grieve and heal from the last year of tending to him. The book was an excellent reminder to look within for the answers. To learn new things and surrender to the present moment. To trust.
The story revolves around a woman who seems to have a perfect life. She has a husband, a house and she is a successful writer, but something is not right; she isn't happy and she does not know why. She feels lost. It's like she woke up one day and realized that her life was not the life she wanted. She decides to do something radical; she gets a divorce and goes on a year-long solo trip around the world where she is left to find herself.
Ruin is the road to transformation
Self-discovery is the essence of the book. She eats in Italy, and by doing so he starts to figure out exactly what she likes and what she wants. She prays in India, this is where she learns to forgive herself while practicing meditation and devotion. And Indonesia is where she finds love even though she wasn't looking for it.
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. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. 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.
Purchasing the 10-year anniversary edition and reading the introduction about how Eat Pray Love changed Elizabeth Gilbert's life was such an eye-opener. Sure, when you are portrayed in a movie by Julia Roberts, everyone learns your name and you become an overnight success - but that was only part of it. Years after her book was published women from all over the world still come up to her and tell her that hers was the first book they ever read about a woman choosing herself and leaving a situation that didn't make her happy. It kind of sounds ridiculous to think that could be true, but the response to that one book has been overwhelming to her.
Since the theme of the book is self-discovery, and it seems to be one of the first of it's kind for women, I knew it had to be on this list. Elizabeth has a beautiful way with words in which you don't ever want to stop reading the stories that she tells. For those who feel lost or stuck, let this book help you find your way out. Grab your copy here.