Self Help Book Parade: Eat, Pray, Love


Maybe you wouldn’t call this non-fiction bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert a self help book at first glance, but this feel-good novel about Liz who find herself by eating in Italy, praying in India and lovin’ in Indonesia? Has always been a self help book to me. It’s a book I reread every once in a while. There is some wisdom and witticism in that well-written fluffy book that I simply had to include it in my personal list of recommended Self Help Books.

Discovery: My friend from Canada came over to stay with me in the summer of 2009. She lended me the book with the words “It’s cute, you should read it.” Henceforth, I did. A few months after I bought my own paperback.

Subject: Liz Gilbert’s year of Eating, Praying and Loving. After a shit divorce she takes a year off to travel. She goes to Italy to learn Italian and eat loads of pasta. She goes to India to be in an ashram and prays and talks to Richard from Texas, who must be one of my favorite characters ever described in a book. Finally she goes to Indonesia to spend time with a medicine man of sorts and (spoiler alert), she falls in love with a sexy Brazilian. Prr.

Kookiness Scale (1-10): Depends on what country you’re in! Italy is just lots of food but there is some explaining about her life, including that she has a guru, so let’s say 4. The part about Indonesia with the medicine man and alternative healing could be labeled a 6, but when you read about her meditational experiences in the ashram, the kookiness scale tips to a whopping 9. However, if you keep an open mind it’s just beautiful to read.

Favorite Quotes, in no particular logical order: 

  • “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
  • “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
  • “People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”
  • “Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and willful self-effort.”
  • Wayan’s Fail Proof Broken Heart Curing Treatment: Vitamin E, much sleep, drink much water, travel to a place far away from the person you loved, meditate and teach your heart that this is destiny.”
  • “But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilling yearnings.”
  • “I have good idea, for if you meet some person from different religion and he want to make argument about God. My idea is, you listen to everything this man say about God. Never argue about God with him. Best thing to say is, ‘I agree with you.’ Then you go home, pray what you want. This is my idea for people to have peace about religion.”
  • “Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy.”
  • “As I focus on diligent joy, I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once — that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-‘n’-Stalin picture, but also on the smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.”

You should read this book if…

  • Your heart’s been broken. Seriously. Filled with lessons and feel good stuff, and it will both comfort and inspire you.
  • If you like descriptions about amazing Italian food, meditation and beautiful islands.
  • If you want to be more impressed with Liz Gilbert than you were when you saw the movie. No offense to Julia Roberts.
Self Help Hipster’s Stamp of Aproval: A wholehearted and forever yes. This is a book that you don’t expect to really help you, but it does. It’s not just more a fun read: there are so many quotes and parts in this book that just ring so true for me. Eat, Pray, Love has well affected the way I look at meditation, love, relationships and happiness.


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  1. Oh, I love all the quotes you picked, especially this one: ” The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. ” & the soulmate one, obviously.

  2. One of my sweet friends got me this book as a present, and reading it made me very happy. When people ask me for a reading tip, I mention this book. As for the movie, it is quite different from the book. Not that the story is different, but it’s a poor reflection of the story (sorry). It’s not a really bad movie, but nowhere near as good as the book. And a warning: when you get it for your kindle, don’t confuse it with “Eat, prey, love” (this happened to someone I know).

  3. To all the Dutchies who want to buy the book: Please, please, please for the love of the universe, buy the English version. The Dutch translation is cringeworthy.

    Other than that: I love the book and reread it quite often. There always seems to be a chapter relating to whatever phase it is I’m going through at any given moment.

  4. wat grappig dat je dit boek ook bij je zelfhulpboeken zet, want toen ik dit boek las was het eerste wat ik dacht: dit boek had ik moeten lezen toen ik zo’n liefdesverdriet had! Er zitten zeker wijze lessen in, vooral inderdaad toen ze in India zat
    (ik moet echt een x naar die plek in Italie waar ze de lekkerste pizza schijnen te hebben trouwens)