Book Reviews: Autobiographies & Biographies

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Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertBook cover of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Read by Tracy 2009

Tracy recommends for a lighthearted look at finding yourself in some very picturesque settings

I read this book whilst trekking through Nepal at the insistence of the other female trekkers, some of who thought it was life changing. What a load of predictable dribble was my personal opinion and I now can't believe how popular this book has become. The publisher described the book as beautifully written, heartfelt memoir that touches a nerve amongst readers and reviews" - hmm a little bit of an exageration. There is now a movie starring Julia Roberts. The book is basically a travelogue that matches with the different stages of Gilberts life as she attempts to find herself after a very messy divorce. She confronts her depression and lineliness by traveling to Italy, India and Bali (all of which will no doubt make beautiful movie viewing) which I have also visited and loved, but somehow it all seems so convenient that she finds herself in beautiful locations surrounded by beautiful people where everything works out perfectly. Gilbert herself is extremely likeable and endearing so it is difficult to believe she ever faces any challenges that the rest of us face and this did annoy me. Some women will use this book as a self-help book but for me it just pandered to the traditional view of having to have a man on your arm instead of looking at and addressing the real issues surrounding your self esteem, I hate the concept that you have to have someone to be happy - I could yell at some of my friends who spout that and who can't stand to be alone. It is probably this viewpoint that made the book difficult to comprehend for me.

Gilbert's roots are in journalism and she has won a Pushcart Prize and National Magazine Award nomination for her work. Gilbert has another book now called Committed, which I haven't read, but I am sure it will be much of the same - yawn.

Eat, Pray Love is one of Oprah's Book Club Top 10 picks.

This is a fantastic choice for your book club. If you want some further information and book club discussion questions - check out the OurBookClub Book Club page.

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Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourtBook Cover of Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Read by Tracy 2009

Tracy recommends as an inspiring read of how you can break the shackles of poverty and abuse.

This book is a memoir of growing up in war torn Ireland in a family that includes an alcoholic father and a mother that has just given up on her family and life. Frank was born in New York City, but the family soon return to Ireland (Limerick) after the death of their only daughter. This return to Ireland turns a bad situation worse. This book describes the difficulties of growing up in this period under the constant shadow of poverty and hunger. Frank is angry at everyone - the Church, his father, the poverty and his mother, however, out of this despair and hopelessness comes strength and a desire to live and survive. Frank is caught in the poverty trap and is unable to access good education due to his class and malnutrition is prevalent. McCourt fights his way back into humanity and returns to American to restart his life. This book does go part way to making you believe that miracles can happen, although I was not totally convinced of the authenticity of the story being told.

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