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This is one of those books that is incredibly difficult to decipher exactly how you feel about it.
I actually started reading this in college. I think I was bored at a friend's apartment and she had it laying around, so I started reading it. I still have the copy she gave me with the bookmark still on page 42. I remember being incredibly bored and annoyed with the book.
Now, years later, I found a copy of the audiobook at the library. I drive a lot for work so I figured it may be worth listening to for two weeks of driving time.
For the most part, I liked it. It took a little while to get into it, but overall it was good. Yes, you're going to get annoyed with Gilbert's irritating problems. Heartbreak and divorce are not so rare these days. Thinking back, I really didn't like Gilbert at all. Mostly I think I put up with her because I kept picturing her as Julia Roberts (even though I haven't actually seen the movie) and you just can't hate Julia Roberts. Anyway, I did enjoy the experiences that she had and the stories she had to tell. She met a lot of interesting people on her travels and has a knack for telling interesting stories.
One of my hesitations about this book though is how she tells others' stories. At the start of the book, she says she changed everyone's name (except Richard from Texas), but she still went on and took those people's stories from them. I understand that she is reflecting on the stories and experiences, but I think she really took advantage of some of the stories. The details of someone else's abusive marriage and difficult divorce aren't really things you should write about just because that person trusted you with the information and lives in a different country that probably wouldn't have access to the book you wrote featuring their stories. I don't feel like she had to go into so much detail. It just felt like she was exposing other people's lives without them really knowing her intentions. I felt a little squeamish about the way Gilbert peddles others' life stories for her own gain.
Her travels were definitely interesting and I did like the various ways she found balance in life such as yoga and meditation. I can see people getting a lot out of this book. There is a deep focus on pleasure and devotion and finding the balance between the two. Overall, I thought it was good. It's not perfect, but there is some inspirational stuff within its pages.