Like most readers, I devoured Eat, Pray, Love pretty quickly, finding it to be eloquently written, eagerly honest, and fairly perceptive of culture, relationships, and of the self.

Through her engaging memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert invites us all to peek into her self-reflective quest after a painful divorce. Don't we all wish we could replace painful relationships with glamorous travel involving relaxation and reflection? Unfortunately, most of us are not able to pursue such endeavors, so we are relegated to living vicariously through reading Eat, Pray, Love. Better yet, now we can skip the book and head to the theater.

For most of us, self-reinvention involves switching from coffee to green tea, though we are constantly encouraged to change things up and become a better person. On the newsstands, O, the Oprah Magazine offers "The Makeover Issue! 178 inspiring ways to change things up (Oprah did!)." Real Simple wants us to perpetually make our life easier (usually through buying more stuff to organize the other stuff we already own). Perhaps those of us who are drawn to spiritual memoirs secretly hope we'll find the subtle answer to a fulfilling and satisfying life.

Would Gilbert's book sell like hotcakes if it were written as a biography? Probably not. Most consumers would be less enthusiastic to pick up a book about a woman who goes through a vague divorce, gorges on pizza in Italy, does some "oms" in India, and meets a male replacement in Indonesia. When choosing a biography to read, most of us look for a hero to emulate, someone whose entire life story is worth telling. Instead, Eat, Pray, Love offers us a way to act fly on the wall for an up-close glimpse at another person's spiritual journey.

Traveling offers the alluring ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.