Sometime in late 2005, early 2006 I read a review for a soon-to-be-published book that immediately piqued my interest. Exciting travel, wondrous food, reflective introspection, romance, humor, honesty…they all seemed to be well represented in the upcoming book. February 2006 finally arrived, along with the publication of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Initial interest was not white-hot here at EOL and I was deep in graduate school at the time so I let it pass me by. Fast forward several months and I starting hearing the title more and more, but not from peers and coworkers…from patrons. (When a book gets this much attention word-of-mouth, it would silly not to pay attention.) Coincidentally, I was asked to participate in the Library’s book group (The Bookies!) meetings for June, July and August and one of the meetings happened to focus on nonfiction.
So this, dear reader, is how I re-stumbled on Eat, Pray, Love. I read the book voraciously as the author made her way through hidden and forgotten restaurants across Italy, respectfully as she knelt in prayer in an Indian ashram and with a zing in my blood as she struggled through the final leg of her journey of self-realization in Indonesia. I could not help but become one of the legions who had read this book and believed everyone else should to. I recommended it at the book group meeting and to everyone else who would stand still to listen. I even bought a copy for my home library so I would not have to wait if I wanted to read it again in the future. As soon as the book came out in paperback, I began to be mobbed with reserves and questions. That feverish period of interest has not yet waned either as there remains a steady list of holds for all the copies in Jefferson County across all mediums: regular print, large print, audiobook.
Never heard of Elizabeth Gilbert? Perhaps you’ve heard of the movie Coyote Ugly? Gilbert wrote an article for GQ magazine about being a Manhattan bartender which prompted the 2000 movie.
All of these reminiscences have been spurred by yet another great USA Today article from the Life/Book section, which I receive via RSS feed. I knew the book had become outrageously popular and this was confirmed by USA Today as it is plowing a path towards their Top 10 Best-Selling Books, currently residing at No. 11. I have every confidence that it will continue to climb but I do wish that its popularity had been realized during the period of time before it was released in trade paperback, just for the sake of the author.
I am a library patron, just as I am an employee, but I am also a proponent of buying books. My purchases work this way: I read the library book. If I am suitably entranced, then I go out and get a hardcover copy (if available) for my home library. I love books and want people to continue to write them. This process depends so much on us as consumers. Go to your local library and check out every book that strikes your fancy (my current check out far exceeds my eyes’ abilities to keep up!), but if you find something special, something that resonates, something you find yourself checking out again and again just to revisit the friends you made in those pages….support the author and purchase a copy.