When it comes Oprah's Book Club, there tend to be two types of reactions: people flock out to buy her recommendations, or other people then avoid them at all cost. I used to be one of the later, until she started picking a bunch of books I'd already read and liked, and realized that maybe her taste in books wasn't all bad. However, that did not mean I started following her every command, either. Instead, I'm somewhat wary of the books she chooses but it won't prevent me from reading them. I think the main problem most people have with Oprah is more the phenonmenon around her than anything else.
I don't know if this book would have become as popular as it was without Oprah, and if it hadn't been so well-known, the title alone probably would have been enough to prevent me from reading it - specifically, the word pray. I'm so not religious.
However, it was an entertaining read. It's not a journey everyone could recreate - after all, she has a much better financial background than some, and also had been able to sell the idea of the book before she even embarked on her journey. As a result, it's not really something that the average person could do. Not that I'd want to spend four months in an Ashram in India learning to meditate. Or even necessarily hang out on the beach in Bali for four months, though she made it sound amazing. Italy, on the other hand - I'd love to live in Italy. I loved Rome, and I really, really want to take a week of leave to travel through Venice, Florence and Milan. In fact, while I feel like I'm done with Germany and ready to move on, I would definitely be willing to stay in the Army and come back to Europe if I could be guaranteed Vicenza, Italy (or somehow be an Army officer stationed at the air force base in England, now that would be awesome).
Gilbert herself is a likeable character, and very saracastic despite her whole hippie inner zen thing, which she even makes fun of on occasion. She's a very outgoing person so she manages to meet and make new friends everywhere she goes and keeps in touch with old ones who make appearances throughout the book. I actually really liked this quote from her book:
I'm so surprised sometimes to notice that my sister is a wife and a mother, and I am not. Somehow I always thought it would be the opposite. I thought it would be me who would end up with a houseful of muddy boots and hollering kids, while Catherine would be living by herself, a solo act, reading alone at night in bed. We grew up into different adults than anyone might have foretold when we were children. It's better this way, though, I think. Against all predictions, we've each created lives that tally with us. Her solitary nature means she needs a family to keep her from loneliness; my gregarious nature means I will never have to worry about being alone, even when I'm single. (92)
Maybe it's because I kind of see myself a little bit in that description of her sister. I tend to be rather quiet, and reserved on occasion. I like company sometimes but I also love traveling alone. However, traveling alone for me means walking through the city, seeing everything I want to see and sitting at cafes and parks reading. Traveling alone for other people tends to be seen as an opportunity to meet new people. I have no clue how or where to meet people and usually no real desire to, either. I have no desire to have children, and am perfectly happy with my life right now, and my books, but I definitely wouldn't be adverse to having that one person/partner to do things with. I think that actually tends to be my problem in relationships, too: it's not necessarily that I'm in a hurry to settle down or feel like I have to be married by a certain time in my life; however, I don't really like dating that much - I like the relationship part much more so it's easy for me to be settled in a relationship once I'm in one because I don't miss the "thrill" of dating and meeting new people.