I heard about the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert back when it received national attention a few years ago, but for some reason I just never had an overwhelming desire to read it. I think it might have had something to do with the “pray” part of the title. Was this book going to preach to me about prayer or religion? As a student, I’m generally required to read textbooks or articles that put my mind into overdrive so when I go to read for fun, I want just that: fun. Then I started to see the previews for the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love. I couldn’t believe how much I was immediately captivated by the foreign images, interesting soundtrack and of course Julia Roberts.
As soon as I started reading, I was immediately obsessed. I say obsessed because it was that kind of feeling you have when you can’t put a book down, even to eat or sleep. I felt a sense of connection with the main character, Liz. She was confused about what she wanted out of life, where she was going, and why she had an overwhelming sense that she just needed change, adventure and a higher power. I think we all struggle with these thoughts and it is always helpful to find someone who is able to put some of your own fears into words so perfectly. No one wants to feel alone, and Liz made me feel like I had a friend. Or, at least, someone who might be even more confused about what she wants out of life than I am.
Like Liz, I love to travel. And if you don’t have the time or money to travel, the next best thing is to read about it, so that’s what I did. Liz took me through Italy, India, and Indonesia in a way I knew I would never be able to experience those places in my wildest dreams. She told me about the food, the people, the sights and most importantly how all these places made her feel. I got the smells, the tastes, the accents, everything I could possibly want to know about a culture but experienced in such a deep and personal way, unlike anything you could ever get out of a Zagat guide, no matter how thorough. Reading this book is like getting a glimpse into a character’s deepest soul and realizing that, despite everything, we all aren’t so different after all.
This What-Are-You-Reading-Wednesday post was written by Meg Peterson, the Council’s summer intern extraordinaire. She’ll be heading back to the University of Michigan in a few short weeks to continue her studies in Political Science and Spanish.