Eat, Pray, Love. You can’t walk through an airport without seeing it. Elizabeth Gilbert’s self-described “freakish success” and “mega sensation” has graced the New York Times bestseller list for over three years. Gilbert’s 2009 TED talk on creativity has probably peppered your Facebook newsfeed. And, next week, the movie version of Gilbert’s (played by Julia Roberts) memoir will make its way big screens across the country.

I’ll confess: I only made it through the “eat” portion of Gilbert’s book. I took a literary siesta after all those descriptions of asparagus, pasta, and gelato. But there are a lot of you out there who followed along as Gilbert traveled from Italy to India and then Bali and found inspiration in her words and story.

I’m curious. How did Gilbert’s book touch you? What resonated with you? Tell us how you make sense of its enduring appeal.


Share Your Reflection



I imagined my 30 year old niece on Gilbert's journey, and enjoyed the book, but very few in my reading circle of women over 40 did. Most found it to be "Spirituality Lite" with a touch of narcissism.

I found it a mostly vapid read that promotes narcissism and consumerism as a means to spirituality. I renamed it "Gripe, Brag, F***" and found Gilbert's obsession with male approval a huge turn-off, but not nearly as horrendous as her Clueless Privileged White Woman treatment of her Balinese "friends." I'm depressed and appalled by the popularity of this book, but not surprised. I find Elizabeth Gilbert a truly repellent guru for our time: her blatant theft of popular Jungian ideas re-packaged as original speeches on finding one's true work is just as cringe-inducing as her memoir. What I'd LOVE to read is a memoir by her first husband!

His book is coming out later this year, I gather. His name is Michael Cooper.

Wow! I didn't find it narcissistic at all. On the contrary, I thought her memoir came from an endearing, honest place. In fact, I found her candidness and brutal honesty to be representative of many of my thoughts and feelings, and I would venture to say that due to the book's appeal many others feel the same way. Why is discovering what fulfills oneself a horrible thing? Finding what makes yourself truely happy will enable others to do the same. To me, this book represented a human beings journey toward self honesty; a journey that many of us are frightened to embark upon.

I am a woman over 40 and loved the book. What engaged me is that she was able to be very honest about her own mistakes and challenges. What made me nod in understanding is that she jumped from the frying pan of a marriage that wasn't right for her into a romantic relationship where she clung too hard - because she hadn't done her own homework yet. And then she takes us on the journey of how one woman's homework can unfold. We can't all go to Italy, India and Bali but we can travel with Gilbert and spark our own journey of self discovering in the very simplistic, basic and necessary actions of eating, praying and loving.

I've read the book twice now. I also enjoyed her first novel "Stern Men" quite a bit, and various articles she's written for different magazines over the years.

The more I think about it, the more I feel critics are missing the actual point of the book - they are trying to make it something it never set out to be simply because the word "pray" is in the title. For me the book is about the journey to being ready for grown up romance.

I don't want to go on and on here so here is the link to my own thoughts on the subject:

Totally vapid, narcissistic take on white woman finds spirituality among the primitives of India and Bali. Embarassing to say the the least.

i am disappointed in her. She used to beca fine writer, her book Stern Men is one of my favorites. Now she just writes self-congratulatory, self-obsessesd twaddle.

I refused to even pick it up for a couple of years. I wasn't interested in jumping on the bandwagon, had heard all the negative feedback and was really just too proud to admit that I read it. Additionally, I'm a professional writer and can't tolerate poor writing--which I assumed it was. Then my aunt sent it to me and told me she had really enjoyed it. I picked it up, expecting to immediately put it back down. I wasn't expecting to fall in love. But I did. I. loved. it. Every page. Every line. It spoke to me right where I was in my own spiritual and mental health journey. I was recovering from my own serious bout of depression and immediately bonded with Elizabeth as she shared her journey in her straightforward, honest, emotionally vulnerable manner. I absolutely loved her writing style and the fact that humor infused every episode of her experience.
I don't quite understand the affect her story has on different people. Why do people hate it so vehemently when I found so much direction and comfort? Why did my spiritually-minded, but cynical husband fall in love with the movie? (He found jewels in her story that spoke to him as few other stories have.) "Spiritually lite?" I am a religious lifer, have practiced meditation for years, am a Benedictine oblate, and have studied all the world's religions. I'm not easily impressed, yet, I loved the book. Reading it encouraged, comforted, delighted and guided me. It's okay not to like it. It's also okay to like, even love it.

I also am the lone wolf reader. Not ready to join the populous pack of promoted fiction. But our reading group selected it.Their reaction was more of disgust and jealousy of the time and money she had. But I do see her writting talent, intelligent wit and honesty.
She lost my support when she reached Bali, for the same reasons mentioned here about "privilaged white women in primitive society".But I was willing to unfurl a flag and have a parade for someone who simply appreciates the ectasy of a good meal and is not a ashamed to tell you about it.

I am from India and lived in US for 15 years before returning with my family five years back. I have travelled to Italy and Indonesia. I borrowed this book recently as an ebook from New York Public library. I skimmed through her Italy part of it but engrossed in her India experience. For most of Indians like me we don't see India with the same eyes as foreign touristts or writers . For us India is a crowded, dusty, hot country filled with corrupt, unreliable people. Every guru or a meditation/yoga teacher or a holy man is a suspect. But the book brought me to the things I have been looking in India. Why should one meditate. How does one feel befor learning how to meditate and after. She shared her experiences the way we all experience about meditation.. It touched something deep inside me. It is a start of a quest that I was afraid to embark.

This was a journey of discovery --for her. You may think you would've done it differently and you'd be right - we all do it differently. You may think you'd have been wiser from the get go - maybe so, maybe no. This story is interesting because it takes us into places most of us will never be except in our imagination. We get to travel with her, see the experience through her minds-eye. She's telling us everything, all the stumbles, all the parts we usually hide from others cos it makes us look dumb or shallow or narcissistic. There are pearls of wisdom seeded throughout the book. She didn't steal them from wise oracles. They sound so familiar because we've heard them before, but in this book, she's telling us how she's learning to incorporate them into her life - how to live them. I found this book uplifting, a reminder of the things I believe in, a reminder that we're supposed to live what we believe.