Archive for the 'books' Category

Eat Pray Love: A search for oneself during desperate times

Since my kids have reached an age where I am no longer swaddling, rocking, singing and feeding at every hour of the day, I have found some more time for me.  One of the things I’ve been trying to find time for is reading.  Lately I, of course, have been reading a bazillion pregnancy/childbirth related books, but I also have had the pleasure of reading a book now and then “just because’.  This does not happen often, but this year I’ve read three books for no other reason than to enjoy them.

My latest book was a treasure.  “Eat Pray Love” was sent to me for my birthday from my brother and sister-in-law, and apparently they know me well.  I had never heard of it, although it is currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List for paperback nonfiction.  This does not surprise me.  (Hint: Two kids; new business.)

On my recent flights to and from Houston, I was able to start and finish this book.  It reads very quickly, like a novel, although it is actually more of an autobiography, or a slice of someone’s life.

In the beginning of the book, the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, finds herself in a heap on the bathroom floor, doing something she hasn’t done in…well…ever.  She is praying.  She wants to leave her marriage.  The next few years are spent between the highs of finding a new love and finding freedom from a failed marriage and the lows of deep depression when she has to deal with the mess of divorce and when she can’t make the new love work.  But that’s just where the story starts.  She’s broken, and must find a way to fix herself.  She hatches a plan: she’ll sell everything she has and travel for a year: spending 4 months in Italy, 4 months in India, and 4 months in Indonesia.  In Rome, she learns how to live again and feed herself – figuratively and quite literally.  At an exclusive Ashram, she connects with the divine and feels her connection to the world around her through Yogic meditation.  Finally in Bali, she finds a balance between pleasure and prayer.

This book may be a travel memoir, but it is so much more.  As Gilbert searches for meaning in life and rebuilds her injured soul, we are inspired to do the same in our own lives.  Her philosophy on travel (taken from her website) goes like this:

I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe. I can’t help but believe it, given my experience.

I’ve seen dark times in my own life, and know I should have taken better care of my soul during them.  A little meditation, and probably some Zoloft, should have been part of my healing, but at the time I was in a place so dark that I could not see the way out.  Thankfully, I did make it through the darkness, and understand the bravery it takes to face your own demons.

Gilbert is someone that is endlessly sympathetic and at the same time easily likable.  Oddly enough for a book with such a deep and at times depressing, premise, it is very funny.  Reading her story is like sitting down for coffee and having a heart-to-heart with your best girlfriend, and getting in both a good laugh and a good cry.  Her book makes me want to learn the art of meditation.  And travel.  But mostly, it makes me want to try and be a better person.  And read more books that nourish me…like this one.

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Filler meme while I’m gone

I’ll be at my Aunt’s funeral this weekend so starting tonight through Monday I’ll be in Texas and unable to post. I didn’t mention her death last weekend because my posts were getting a bit depressing and I needed to lighten the mood a bit. The beer helped.

Anywhoo…I saw this post over at Doulicia and thought it might be fun. I did a movie one a while back — I’m much better at watching movies than reading books, so it doesn’t surprise me that I fare worse here. I looked up each of the books I knew nothing or very little about, and found that all had something to offer. It was hard not to italicize the entirety of the list.

Truth be known, I’m a sucker for such lists. But what is the significance of this one? I tried to look it up but to no avail. It seems this particular meme has made its rounds. Judging by the list, I’m guessing it’s the most read books of the 21st century…but don’t quote me on that. Interestingly, there are a lot of Canadian writers here.  And every is a work of fiction, but the Bible is in the list.  (I’ll plead the fifth.)

I’m tagging anyone who reads this…which probably accounts for a whole ten people.

Instructions:

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read. Itilacize the ones you want to read. Leave blank the ones you aren’t interested in.

Movies don’t count!!!!! (K. – Damn.)

  1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
  2. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) sitting on the bookshelf. Rich read it and I’ll pick it up soon.
  3. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  5. Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
  6. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
  7. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
  8. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
  9. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
  10. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
  11. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
  12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) Yes. I’m the only person on earth who hasn’t read any of the Harry Potter books. I imagine I’ll pick them up when they’re appropriate for my kiddies and we’ll read them together – and be surprised how much I’ll really love them.
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
  15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
  16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
  17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
  18. The Stand (Stephen King)
  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
  20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
  21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
  22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
  23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
  25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  26. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
  27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
  28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
  29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
  30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
  31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
  32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
  33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
  34. 1984 (George Orwell)
  35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
  36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) I think Rich might like this one though
  37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) Maybe a book for Rich
  38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
  39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
  40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
  41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
  42. The Kite Runner (Kaled Hosseini)
  43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
  44. The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
  45. The Bible – maybe someday. I need to separate politics and religion in my own head first.
  46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
  47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) Another one I think Rich would like
  48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
  49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
  51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
  52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
  53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
  55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
  57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
  58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
  59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
  61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
  63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
  64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
  65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
  66. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
  68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  69. Les Miserables (Hugo) But I would love to see the musical.
  70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
  71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
  72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
  73. Shogun (James Clavell)
  74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
  75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gravriel Kay)
  77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  78. The World According to Garp (John Irving) I’ve read and loved much of Irving’s books, but surprisingly never picked this one up.
  79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
  80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
  81. Not Wanted on the Voyage (Timothy Finley)
  82. Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
  83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
  84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
  85. Emma (Jane Austen)
  86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
  89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
  90. Kane and Able (Jeffrey Archer)
  91. In the Skin of a Lion (Ondaatje)
  92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
  93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
  94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
  96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
  97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
  98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
  99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
  100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

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