Book DNA: February Gift of Love to Self

Work, family and everything in between is consuming me. Life happens…to each and every one of us. The one constant in my life (even though I have been a slacker about posting) is reading. When I crack open a book or my Nook flickers to life, the drama is no longer about me, but about the characters in the story. Those of you who know me, understand I am not good at relaxing. Escaping into the pages of a book is as close to Zen as I have achieved.

Book DNA was created to identify what books have influenced my character and discuss why some books I will never read again (for good or bad) or those books I will return to multiple times. Books are a gift to my soul. What better time of year to give a gift of love and appreciation to yourself than the month celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Until recently, I have despised the so-called holiday. It is too close to Christmas. I am broke. And for the majority of my life, the only person sending me a card and candy was my mother. (Very sweet, but still, far from the Hallmark romance advertised.) In 2007, after a particularly bad start to the year, I picked up a copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Whoa. Hold up. Don’t switch the channel. I can see your eyes rolling. Most folks have a visceral reaction to this book and either love or hate this book. Withhold further judgment and let me share with you why this story is the gift that keeps giving Valentine’s Day after Valentine’s Day.

(Oh, and please don’t break my heart and compare this book or base your judgment of the story on the merits of the movie. Please. I beg of you, do not.)

Everyone was buzzing about this book. I am not sure what enticed me to read the first chapter other than the surrounding hype. Memoirs are not numerous on my bookshelf. I read the first chapter in the Barnes and Noble café and I am not sure I even looked up at the person behind the counter when I purchased the book. I was captivated. My drama was someone else’s drama. I was contemplating a divorce and other difficult decisions. I did not have anyone I could really talk to and not feel as if I was letting them down or being judged. I felt very alone, but while reading this book, I felt Elizabeth was right there next to me. Together, we were sharing our ‘insider voice’ and I felt liberated.

I did get that divorce. And the following February, I opened the book again to refresh my spirit. It was at this time that I met my husband online (Twitter) – ironic that I found my own Brazilian man. We discussed all manner of books and I told him that if he read this book (Eat, Pray, Love) he would better understand me. He did. Maybe it was a bit too much crazy for him to digest, but he has managed the insanity for four years.

I did not need to jump on a plane and recreate the physical journey Gilbert endured. Instead, I accompanied her on a mental adventure. Like clockwork, on 1 February, I open my signed edition of Eat, Pray, Love and give a gift of love to myself with each chapter I read. I relive my sadness, learn a bit more about how and why I made the decisions I did, and accept. I have learned to love myself.

This may not be the book for you. This is OK. But don’t judge a book by the cover or hype. If you are interested in this book, I highly recommend complimenting the text with the audiobook read by the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. Her wit and charm are irresistible.

What book or books do you read seasonally? What place do they hold in your heart?

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  • cloverdew

    I, too, loved this book. It is also part of my Book DNA. I haven’t re-read the book since I first read it, but I definitely am keeping it on my shelf to read again. I love that the book is about finding a love of self, not finding romantic love. And, while Elizabeth did find a romantic love in her now-husband, it was first and foremost about finding a place where she could love herself and view herself as whole. That is a powerful message.

    • Lauren Vargas

      Thank you! You are right, the gift of understanding self is the best gift and powerful message. What is your re-read list?

      • cloverdew

        Re-reads: Neverwhere, Good Omens, American Gods, A Tale of Two Cities, Traveling with Pomegranates, The Tao of Pooh, Watchmen, The Secret Life of Bees, The Mists of Avalon. And that’s just the re-read list, not the to-read list. lol