A “neurotic freak” would be an honest description of Elizabeth Gilbert. If she happens to have any reservations about this description, she might want to reconsider some events in her memoir “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Don’t get me wrong. I really do see the good in Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery and reunion with the divine. Nevertheless, being a man of a considerable amount of common sense and logical thinking, I find it hard to be 100% compassionate with her.
It’s not the fact that she wants a divorce from the man she has vowed to love till the end of time that makes me angry. It’s actually the fact that she’s angry with him because the poor thing “didn’t see that coming!” She’s angry because he chose her as his ultimate dream. She’s angry because he didn’t want everything they struggled for to collapse in a glimpse, and without a prior notice. How inconsiderate of him, right?
Moreover, she feels like she needs a break from her life to start anew, and what’s better than a PREPAID vacation to Italy, India and Bali to do that? She goes on a “cleansing” journey by money from her boss who is expecting a report about the journey in return. Doesn’t this sound like BUSINESS to you? …It does to me! Therefore, I find the authenticity of Gilbert’s work to be highly questionable.
However, the book is not totally useless. I mean, if you’re bold enough to discard what’s been mentioned above as unimportant details, you can still enjoy the funny style, the imagery, the irony in Gilbert’s life, and you can even identify with her as she indulges in a bumpy search for everything.
Moreover, the book proposes a variety of scenery from different countries and cultures. Add that to Gilbert’s craft in storytelling, and you’ll end up traveling with her through the food paradise that is Italy, mystic India and exotic Bali.
If you’re into meditation, this book can be inspiring. Gilbert’s time in the Ashram in India, her maddening struggle with all the Mantras and Sanskrit, as well as the sleeping until the ungodly hour of dawn can be relatable in our daily lives. Maybe not necessarily in that same order, or with those very same items, but it’s relatable, still.
So, if I am to give a final verdict, I’d just cut it short and say that if you enjoy shows like Sex and The City, then this book is for you.
“Stuck” is the word to use when all you can do to face your inability to cope with your several readings is goggle your eyes. Books of different shapes and languages are scattered around you, and they only accentuate your dilemmas about what to resume reading first. Is it this book in French by that very prominent sociologist, or is it this one in Arabic by this great Egyptian novelist, or maybe you should continue reading either one of those three English novels you started last week…
Finally, you make up your mind and grab either one of those books. However, somehow, the words get blurry and the characters start jumping from one book into the other as if they were circus artists doing amazing confusing stunts!
You might still want to focus. You’d probably start pondering about the merits of every book and author at hand for some minutes to make a final decision. But if you’re like me, you’d most probably just grab the remote and watch Mr. Bean, instead.
Is this really your idea of enjoying reading? If your answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing, and stop reading this post right now… NOW, I said. If your answer is no, then what follows might be helpful.
Hereafter are some pieces of advice you might want to consider:
Do not read several books at once:
Yes. I think that for people like myself, we just cannot commit to this kind of relationships. So my advice to you is to take it slow. One book at a time shall do you good.
What we need to understand is that we’re different, and so are our abilities. Reading several books at the same time is not a healthy practice for some people. Some others can do this but some others can’t. This doesn’t imply that my breed are stupid, or that people who can read many books at once are smarter, it just means that we have different skills and intelligences. So, don’t feel bad about it.
(What?… I heard that! And no, I’m not just comforting myself?)
After all, the only good thing about being able to read different books at once is that you can switch books if you get tired or bored. However, the cons of this practice outweigh this single advantage.
Do not mix languages:
If you’re going to read many books. Like, if you really really have to, make sure that they’re in the same language. Reading books in different languages at the same time is confusing, especially if you’re a fast reader in some language(s) but a slow reader in other language(s). You’ll make much more progress reading in the language(s) your fluent in, while you’d be lagging behind in the other language(s), which might stir some dissatisfaction and might, in some cases, lead to low self-esteem, depression and then, suicide. Just kidding, but you got the point!
Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it:
Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Choose the time of the day that fits you best and plan your readings accordingly. Some people prefer to read at nights, other people prefer to read upon waking up. Don’t forget to make use of your free time and weekends, too.
Some things in life are more important than others, so are books. Start with the book which you have a strong and fresh desire to read, when you get tired of it, try the next book you’re looking forward to read. You should always have interest in what’s between your hands, otherwise, the reading experience would be ruined.
“Prioritize” doesn’t mean ignore:
If you leave a book for too long, you’d probably forget everything about it. Picking it up again would be kind of meaningless. Hence, if you feel that one of the books your reading isn’t as interesting as the others, leave it for another reading set, or just drop it altogether, but don’t feel compelled to finish it. This will only increase your anxiousness, and we don’t want that, do we? DO WE?
Use a timeline:
A notepad and a pencil would be very helpful. Track down the ideas, characters and events of the book. You can add your feelings, expectations and questions about the book. It’s also important to make sure to read your notes every time you want to resume reading, it’ll freshen up your memory and put you in the right mood for that particular reading.
Read (a) whole chapter(s) every time:
Don’t stop in the middle of a chapter. If you do, you’d probably be lost when you resume reading. Think of this as watching a series, what would you rather do, stop watching at the end of the episode and wait for the new one, or stop in the middle of the current one?…There you go!
Real readers love challenges:
Eat you broccoli, finish your dish! If you start several books and don’t manage to complete anyone of them, the effect will be very counterproductive. So, go on and finish your books, at least some of them. The feeling is really satisfying, believe me. Remember that if you don’t, you’ll probably have a very low self-esteem, depression and might commit suicide. Just kidding again, but you got the point!
Goodreads is a great reading carrefour. People write reviews and send updates about their readings. You can set up an annual goal and work on achieving it. A little competition would never hurt.
This, dear bookworms, is what I can think of for the moment. I’m sure you can have many other ideas on how to accomplish this task. So, please feel free to share them in the comment section.
Happy reading, everyone!