Saturday, July 31, 2010

Does That Make Me Selfish?

Have you read the book Eat, Pray, Love?


I read this book for book club last year and, for the most part, enjoyed it. The Italy section was so much fun, India (all the meditating) bored me a little, and Bali was romantic. Overall it was a very nice book. While reading it however, I was told by a few people that they felt the author was selfish and a narcissist. Which surprised me because I so didn’t get that from the story.

Now that the movie is coming out, I’m hearing those critiques again. I don’t really get it.

If you are not familiar with the story here’s a quick synopsis. The author, a travel writer, is a woman in her 30s who divorced her husband after she concluding she wasn’t happy and didn’t want to have children with him. After falling for a much younger man, she realized she needed to live her life without a destructive relationship, but instead learn how to be happy. She decided to take a year to travel to Italy, India, and Bali; wanting to get something specific out of each country.

I guess wanting to take care of yourself is, by definition, selfish, but that word has such a negative connotation. How is wanting to make sure oneself is “ok” before taking care of anyone else negative. If you’re not happy you will be no good to anyone!

In addition, to me, what better way to make yourself happy than to travel. I tell ya what, if I could afford it, I’d go away for a year!

I don’t see what is so wrong with what she did, but maybe there’s something I’m missing???


  1. I haven't read the book yet, although I plan on seeing the movie first. Selfish has a bad connotation, yeah, but if you don't take care of yourself first, you won't be equipped to take care of anyone else. There's nothing inherently wrong with that.

  2. "How is wanting to make sure oneself is “ok” before taking care of anyone else negative. If you’re not happy you will be no good to anyone!"

    This says it all!

  3. That was our most controversial book club ever. I didn't find it selfish either. It made me think about slowing down and breathing once in awhile which is always a good thing. I want to see the movie! Wanna go?

  4. To me, it is selfish to walk all over others and take advantage of them in order to "take care of yourself".

    Taking care of yourself (removing yourself from a relationship that isn't working), living life, learning about yourself, having new experiences is not selfish. I think that some of the "selfish" talk is generated by jealousy. I too would love to take a year and travel like that, get to know a location, experience it in a way that most never get the opportunity to do.

    That said, I gave up on this book in India, I didn't hate it, but it just wasn't drawing me in any longer.

  5. I read it a while ago (and I loved it!). But I don't remember thinking she was selfish. She was a single woman; it's not like she left children behind or anything.

  6. It takes alot of courage to be selfish. I agree that it is a shame that word tends to always have a negative conotation...
    I'm with you - I'd take off for a year if I could figure out the money!
    I think what she did was very brave!
    Adventurers lead great lives!

  7. I read it and I was TOTALLY into Italy. Loved it. And then, somewhere in India, she lost me. And yes, I got overwhelmed by her self-absorption (while she was in India). Quite probably, it was due to the grinding poverty... and her abject oblivion to that fact.
    In fact, I was so disgusted with the book at that point that I put it down, and never got to Bali, although I'm sure I would have liked it.
    Perhaps I should try just Bali.