Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Beach Books

As I've mentioned, when I go to the beach I like to park my butt in the sand with a stack of books and read until I need to cool off in the water. I very much enjoy being able to get lost in a book. I have been known to get lost in them since I was a kid.

This is not a trait everyone finds admirable. I can recall my 4th grade teacher making sure the entire class stared me down after silent reading time was over because I failed to hear him say it was time for math. I was that engrossed in my book. Personally, I think he was an asshole of the highest (or lowest, depending upon your perspective) caliber if he felt embarrassing a student for being caught up in a good book was the most effective means of handling that situation. My mother-in-law has also commented on how she just can't believe the way I can shut the world out when I pick up a book. She does not say this in a tone of praise. Oh well, such is life.

Anyway, this last week I only got through one of the books I took. I read Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I may be among the last people to actually pick up this bestseller. That is partly because I tend to avoid things that become really popular really quickly. Can't be a herd follower, you know. It's also due in part to having a fairly large "to read" pile at all times.

To review the book I'd have to say it was a diverting beach read. If you're on a getaway it's kind of fun to read about someone else getting away from it all. For those of you who haven't read this book, Gilbert chronicles her year of wandering in search of mending a broken heart and finding spirituality. She decides to spend 4 months each in Italy, India, and Indonesia after her divorce. So right there we have a bit of fantasy. Of all the people I've known who got divorced, none of them had the resources to check out of reality for a year and wander the globe.

Italy is for indulging pleasure through food and learning the language simply because it pleases her ear. Rock on. She gained something like 23 pounds in those 4 months. India is for living in an ashram and learning spiritual discipline. She did come away with some interesting insights. Indonesia was for finding balance between pleasure and devotion. While there she happens to meet a fabulous Brazilian man who brings to an end her self-imposed celibacy for the year. Again, some interesting insights about balance. The cultural revelations from Italy and Indonesia were what fascinated me the most. They were somewhat limited regarding India because she was mostly in the ashram rather than out mingling.

While it was a diverting read I came away mildly annoyed by all this spirituality wrapped up in what came across to me as self-indulgence. I tend to think healing a broken heart and being spiritual would be less of a challenge for anyone who can spend a year wandering the globe by herself and who ends up with a talented and selfless Brazilian lover. So then I was forced to ask myself why that chafed me so much (aside from not knowing anyone else who has been able to nurse their wounds that way). Basically, it goes so totally against the grain of the values I was raised with (values I have had tested and refined by my own travels and spiritual searching). Also I recently read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies and Plan B, which deal very much with her own spiritual search while facing life as a recovered alcoholic and a single mother. Her experience resonated far more deeply with me and her writing appealed to me far more as well.

Ok, so all that said. If I were to go on an entirely indulgent "spiritual seekers" journey to heal a broken heart (because really, loosing my van and the library job crushed me) I think I hear Ireland and Greece calling my name (I'll figure out my third destination on a whim). With any luck I'll find Hugh Jackman waiting for me at the end.

So where would you go and who would you hope to find?

20 comments:

g-man said...

I know what you mean..
It took me forever to read The Hobbit.

g-man said...

But some things I enjoy doing right away...
Like 'Marking My Territory'.....

Cocotte said...

I attempted to read that book some time ago......I enjoyed the Italy part, but the rest was a snoozer to me.

I agree....Greece is very tempting.

Craver Vii said...

Go? Why would I go anywhere? Too risky. After all, you got "lost" while "parked."

I am more into becoming more aware of the present surroundings. Going away would complicate things.

Nevermind all that. There is a missions trip going to Korea in a few weeks, and I would gladly stow away if it were possible! Osaka calls my name as well. Strangely, I found a sort of kinship with some of my church's partners out there.

Desmond Jones said...

Hmmmmm. . . When I think of 'spiritual searches', I mostly think of the Holy Land, and how cool it would be to walk around there. Also Rome, for related, but somewhat different reasons. . .

I also have 'travel fantasies' relating to 'heritage'. I'd love to visit Germany and England/Scotland/Ireland along those lines. And for me, Liverpool might be a separate 'spiritual quest' all its own. . . ;)

And Australia/New Zealand, too. . .

My 'summer reading' is not quite so extensive these days as it once was. But when I have the chance, I like to read philosophy/theology and history books. Or, if I'm in a 'lighter' mood, maybe some popular math book. Yeah, I know. . .

But I'm right there with you, as far as 'getting lost' in my reading (maybe it's an adoptee thing ;) ). Many years ago, I went on a jag reading James Michener novels, and Molly took to calling Michener my 'other woman'. Then there was the time (still early in our marriage, if you can believe it) that I read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings AND The Silmarillion in a month. Uh, do not try this at home. . . ;)

And, uh, WordVer = 'wisequ'. Whatever that might signify. . .

mssolitaire said...

I think I'd saty in the United States. There is so much to see here that's amazing, it would be cool to see all there is to see here. And find people who can give you that little bit of extra perspective and share their love with you. :)

Jazz said...

I'm thinking your last destination would be Australia...

Funny, when I read that book my reaction was: fun read but self indulgent navel gazing... Course I've never been in a position to run away for a year, that whole earning a living thing gets in the way.

S said...

Eileen read Eat Pray Love while I was reading Q & A (Slumdog) by the pool in India.

She read me some excerpts, enough to get the idea of it all, and I decided I didnt need to read it afterall.

But I know what you mean, lying by a pool in India reading about Italy is a trip!
I read House Of Sand and Fog the prior year by the pool. It was weird reading a book about Marin while being in Goa....but fun too!
It's like whenever you remember that book from now on, you will also remember where you were when you read it, becomes a permanent part of the reading experience.

snowelf said...

I am really grateful you reviewed this book, Lime. I have been wondering what the hub-bub was about when it came to it. I never seem to be able to carve myself out time to read--this is going to be an indulgence I know I'm going to slather myself in when I am in my later years.
I agree with you about a chick being so "worldly" then not ending up with a "quality" dude. I think this is just a version of a modern day faerie tale. Some girls may have wanted her to end up with a Brazillian hottie, but looks fade and I'd rather end up with someone of substance anyday.

--snow

coopernicus said...

So where would you go and who would you hope to find?

Crazy...all the sane people....

for a different kind of girl said...

I've forever thought Australia of some 'mysterious' place that I'd like to wander. Or Scotland.

I'm one who doesn't tend to read things that blow up in popularity. When customers ask me my thoughts on book suggestions and we wander past The Da Vinci Code, they ask me if it's good, should they read it. No idea. Never read it. Never will.

Also, and this is probably best kept a secret, but I've only read the first three Harry Potter books and I can't remember much of the third one.

Ananda girl said...

Okay... this is a relevant subject for me and though I am trying to alter my life in that way... via divorce...

Yeah, the marvel of travel is not going to happen for me. BUT if it could; Ireland, Germany and I've always wanted to go see Victoria, Canada.

What would I want to gain? Well a good time or two or ten or twenty or... you get it. :)

VE said...

I'd go to Middle Earth to find Tom Bombadil...he seems like a jolly fellow.

(M)ary said...

i haven't read that book yet! so you are second to last.

not only could this lady travel the world but she self-imposed then un-self-imposed her celibacy. and conveniently a Brazilian lover was ready and willing. yeah, i will not be reading that book any time soon.

Lisa said...

Being that I might be the least spiritual person ever born, I avoided that book, even after my mother's recommendation. My idea of a personal journey is cleaning out a drawer, finding an old photo, and losing myself in fantasy. Reading on the beach holds appeal, also.

gab said...

I too am one who gets lost in a good book. My grandkids will do things they know they are not suppose to do because they claimed they asked me and because I did not answer it must have been ok with me. Im in the middleof two good books right now, One by J.D.Robb and one by Elizabeth Lowell. Both authors are fantastic I think. I own almost all of Mz Lowells books. And the ones from J.D. Robb are from a series and I borrowed them from my daughter but I am hooked. I got my love of reading frommy mom because she said one I would learn to spell better and I could go to places in these books without ever leaving home. Well, I dont nessasary spell better but I do figure out what a lot of words are without ever learning them in school.

barman said...

There is nothing wrong with getting lost in a good book. It is a pitty the teacher was so stupid. When I pick up a book it usually means I have lost the better part of a weekend as I so hate to put it down.

Ireland and New Zealand sounds fun to but then so does so many other wonderful places. As to someone waiting for me... surprise me. :)

Jocelyn said...

I fell in love with Anne Lamott in the early 1990's, when I encountered OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS, one of the first frank depictions of motherhood I'd read. Then I really became a fan when she started her column for salon.com in the mid-1990's (many of these essays then went into the books you mentioned). Gilbert is, indeed, self-indulgent compared to Lamott...but I can't begrudge self-indulgence as a means of self repair. Personally, it's always done me wonders.

As to your question at the end: hmmm. I would go anywhere with my husband, always. But if it were a trip to heal a deep inner wound, say, the loss of said husband, I'd choose my gf Pammy, as she is the Ultimate Emotional Processor I know. We've already gone to Ireland once together, but I'd go again. Or how about the Bahamas? We could counsel Rihanna while there.

jess said...

I remember reading time in elementary school being the best & worst part of school for me. I'd get lost in the book of stories while other kids were painfully reading aloud, and by the time it was my turn I'd be halfway through the book and have no idea where we were. It was torture to be given a big book of fiction and then expected not to get lost in it.

seventh sister said...

I,too, was hesitant to read it but when I did,I really liked it. I was more into the spiritual parts of it. The descriptions of life in the ashram were fascinating as was the part where she decides to help the woman in Bali who turns out trying to take advantage of her. I was also impressed that she was able to get someone to finance her year abroad.