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Booking Through Thursday, #2

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Eat, Pray, Love would have been a much better book if the author did not seem like she was patronizing and condescending to the countries she visited.

Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 3:15AM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] | Comments16 Comments | References1 Reference

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    I guess I just don’t understand why you need to search the whole world over to find God, yourself, or happiness. Travel because you enjoy it, because you want to learn about different cultures, or because you want an adventure. If you want to find God, yourself, or happiness, perhaps you ...

Reader Comments (16)

I haven't read this book...but I think I would agree. Something like that would bother me too.
March 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris
Beastmomma and I disagree on this book heartily! Just wondering if other people feel she was condescending and patronizing. Any examples? I didn't find her to be that way at all, but it worries me to have missed that if it was apparently so obvious...
March 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
I think it was in what you were looking for when you read the book. For me, I found her too be so self-absorbed and needing the countries to fit into a single thing in order to fulfill her notions. Additionally in interviews post her journey, she does not really address the fact that most people who go through a divorce cannot pick up and go. I wish that I could pin point specific items, but I do not have any ideas right now. the book is no longer with me, so I cannot look it up.
March 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
Oh, I can think of a few books like that. Some of Bill Bryson's work can seem really condescending.
March 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Darnton
I disagree - in her post journey interviews she totally addresses that it's not about packing up and going on a trip for a year. In fact, some people were so inspired by her inner journey and growth that they developed their own rituals and journeys that were sometimes even within their own homes. She by no means advocates for everyone to do what she did – in fact, she doesn’t actually advocate anything, but is just happy to see that her own story has somehow hit home and helped so many others work through their own struggles.

Sure she was privileged and thus had the opportunity to do this, but you can't blame her for that - we're all who we are and live within our circumstances. And she fully recognizes that everyone can't pick up and go like she did - but the physical trip is not even the point. It's about making an effort to figure things out and create the life you want.

And sure there are plenty of other types of experiences to have been had in those countries, but she decided to focus on certain realms. Nothing wrong with that – you can’t do it all. But I don't at all think that it was an issue of the countries having to “fit into a single thing to fulfill her notions.”

Anyhow, I do think liking/not liking this book has a lot to do with where you are personally when reading it. I felt like I was in a very similar place to her so her thoughts and views were very on par with mine. I actually didn’t think the writing was particularly stellar, but so much of the content hit home.
March 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
I think self absorbed is a good way to describe Liz. I found her annoying and I to agree most people cannot stop their lives and visit 3 countries upon a divorce. I don't have the book anymore but something about it rubbed me the wrong way too. I did admire Liz's desire to fix her problems (eventually)and not just sit around moping about them (forever). Most people just can't achieve actualization the way she did, which is pretty unrealistic. (Does this make any sense?)
March 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJuli
If most people could stop their lives and visit 3 countries post-divorce, why would anyone bother to write a book about it? The fact that most people can't do it, thus making it a rather unique experience, lends itself to a book, kwim? I'm reading it now and enjoying it, but have only read about 50 pages. ANother member of my book club emailed me last night and said she thought Gilbert was "a whiny bitch". I was kinda shocked but this is coming from a person who has been married 20 years and has 2 kids with special needs-autism and cerebral palsy. To say she's tied down is an understatement! So I chalked up the "whiny bitch" comment to being a tad jealous of Gilbert's freedom.
March 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisaaMM
Again, I have to say that it's not about packing up and visiting 3 countries after a divorce or any other problem. I think we're missing the point if we look at it that way. Her story is just that - HER story. And if we can take something positive from that and find inspiration for our own type of journey - great! If not, then why call her names? We're all different people and just look at and experience the world in different ways.
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
I think we are going to have to agree to disagree.
Ann:I have only read one Bill Bryson book which I enjoyed, so I am not sure if he fits in the same category as Liz.
Juli: I agree with you. I did not have an issue with her self-actualization per se; her tone irritated me.
Lisa: I can see that this is a unique experience; however, I did not find it particularly unique or engaging. I just felt bothered by what I perceived as her quest to run away from her life and get fixed by visitingother countries. I know that people "get away" all the time, but I was just bothered by her. I will be curious to hear what you think once you finish!
R: I agree that we do not need to call her names and I apologize for my part in making that seem okay. As much as it is her story, I feel like she is making general statements. That traveling is a way to escape from your every day and get fixed. I know that she was not intentional advocating that, but I just got that message from her writing.
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
If it is merely some people's own interpretation that she was advocating for the "travel and get fixed" approach (which I absolutely don't think she was) and people recognize that that wasn't necessarily her intention,then why get so annoyed with her? Texts will always be interpreted in a billion different ways - so maybe we should take more time to understand the intention and to also understand the reasons for our own interpretations.
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
I wish that I had a more response to that R. I felt like a good book (for me) is one where I can say "I understand" and a great book is one where I can say, "That is what it is about." This book made me say, "Seriously? I cannot believe how annoyed I am by this."
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
Which is fair enough - if you were annoyed, you were annoyed. Not a problem.You're different people, you have different views. Totally fine.

But some people could definitely say "I understand" or "That is what it is about" - just because you don't agree, doesn't make the author a bad person. Those views are legitimate, as are yours.

My issue is just that there is something about the negativity that seems so sharp and personally directed at her - rather than just acknowledging that people have different backgrounds and perspectives and perhaps there's still something to be gained from it all.

Obviously I like the book and understood her views, but hearing all of the other comments doesn't make me hate or feel annoyed at the people who wrote them - it actually makes me try to understand their perspective and to also question my own. In fact, I can't help but worry that I might be so insensitive as to have missed her condescending and patronizing attitude.
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
On another note, but still about the book - what do people think about "Richard from Texas'" views about "soulmates"?
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
I was not saying that she was a bad person. The story she published is a personal memoir; it is non-fiction, so attacks on her may be more likely. The book did not resonate with me and I firmly believe it is because I could not get past her tone/voice/perspective. Richard from Texas was an interesting character; maybe if the book had been written from his perspective, I would have liked it more :)
March 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
I know - I want him to write a book now!

March 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.
Finally, we agree on something about this book ;)
March 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma

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