Friday, November 16, 2007

Non-fiction

I read a lot, though I have to admit, not as fast as I once did because I fall asleep. But I always have a book going, usually a novel. Recently I've read two non-fiction books and each surprised me in its own way.

Have you read this book? Seems like everyone has and everyone loves it—except me. Ugh. I really disliked this book. It is an account of a young woman's ugly divorce and how she regained her equilibrium and found love by traveling to Italy, where she ate, to India where she learned to pray and Bali where she found love. It's not that I am opposed to finding oneself, journeys of self-discovery—all that, but this felt very contrived and very self-indulgent. For starters, she paid for the travel with the big advance she got on the book, so it was kind of a foregone conclusion that this trip was going to yield amazing insights and colorful characters and the requisite happy ending before it even began.
I was annoyed with the author and her spoiled whining and what seemed to me like a very superficial spirituality. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. Seems like people I know have problems and setbacks far graver than the author's, and they cope, and they work, and they find strength within themselves, and they learn to forge ahead in ways that don't require taking off for a year and finding a wise old guru to provide their answers. Like I said, Ugh.

I mentioned this book in my post a few months ago about my own gray hair and I was contacted by someone from the publishing company, thanking me for mentioning the book and offering to send me a copy. Well, sure! Why not? I honestly did not expect to like this book very much. I expected it to be pretty superficial and filled with angst about aging and losing one's youthful looks. I was very pleasantly surprised. I found it to be self-deprecating and thoughtful. The author (Anne Kreamer) found that her worst fears were unfounded and that, in fact, in many ways people responded to her more positively once she allowed her hair to gray, even men, when she experimentally signed up for an online dating service. She thought a lot about the value of authenticity and "if you can stop worrying about what others might think of your hair color, and of feeling obliged to wear camouflage, then you free yourself up to think about other things—that by abandoning the small stuff you may make room for the big."
I found her journey much more satisfying than the Eat, Pray, Love journey.

6 comments:

  1. You nailed both of them, Terry, I certainly agree. I don't have much grey hair, but Anne Kreamer's thoughts rang true for me.

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  2. Hi Gerrie,
    I read Eat,Pray, Love also, and now that I think about it, I agree with you. I thought at the time that it was kind of fluffy, and I liked the Italy part, but after a while the book became tedious and I was ready for it to end way before it did.
    As far as grey hair goes, I still weave mine because I'm nervous about the change. My hair color is dishwater blond, and I don't think that greys very well. My mom had dark brown hair, and it looks beautiful greying. Now I need to read this book and see if I'm ready for a change

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  3. I am going on a post-birthday book shopping trip today. I'll put Going Gray on my list.
    I love my gray hair, but once in a (great) while I have doubts. However, I don't think anyone would mistake me for a 20-something if I colored my hair.

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  4. I thought I was the only one who felt that way about Eat Pray Love. I didn't even finish it, and I almost always finish books I start!

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  5. I'm with you (and Carol) about Eat Pray Love. I couldn't finish it. I felt the author was selfish and whiny. Sometimes I fall into the hype when a book comes out, and regret it!

    PS- happy anniversary!

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  6. A houseguest left me her copy of Eat, Pray, Love this summer, after she finished it; otherwise I probably wouldn't have read it, since I usually mistrust books (mass market fiction, anyway) that Everybody seems to be reading.

    I hated the first part, but enjoyed the descriptions of her experiences with meditation in the second, and some of her insights into Balinese culture and mindsets in the third section. Overall, though, I couldn't shake the feeling that a woman slightly more than half my age was telling me what life was all about. I think part of the problem, Terry, is that we're just not in the target demographic.

    On the other hand, I have Going Gray on reserve at the library and am really looking forward to reading it.

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