A book I read: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

After reading Eat, Pray, Love, I HAD to see what was going to happen to Elizabeth Gilbert and her Felipe.

Allow me a small confession here: I have a really hard time buying books. One of my favorite pass times from ages 19 to 26 as a single lady (is that really the word we want to use between girl and woman? I mean, it sounds slightly like a tiny princess toilet rather than a thoughtful human being. I guess Beyoncé called all of us together cause she figured we were at her level. I suppose I am on Beyoncé's level. Thanks, Bey.) was to go to a bookstore and stare at the books I wanted to buy. Mind you, my boat is full of integrity so ne'er e'er did I crack the covers of those books except to read prologues, praises, or the poignant, tear-jerking, nostalgia-inducing author dedications. (I mean "For Dad" come ON. You wouldn't be able to wipe all of my tears from that, even if you had a ShamWow.)

I would just stare at them and wish that I had them in my hands. After my betrothed discovered this adorable habit of mine, in order to shorten the length of time spent staring at books on our dates, he would just buy me the books that I was staring at. I tell you this because Committed was one of the first books he bought me. And also embarrassing anecdotes are fun.

Back to the real reason we're here: the book!




In my other book review (singular...someday it will be more plural...someday), also a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, I simply wrote down my favorite writings from her book. I suppose that isn't really a review. I wanted to show how powerful and clear her writing was and I just didn't think that my words about her words would be able to convey that power. And I'm confident that I made the right choice in doing that. You should go read those words. So maybe I'll do the same thing here. Or maybe I won't. I guess you'll have to keep reading.

Okay, you're right. I'm going to put my favorites of her writing here + some of my thoughts. Sheesh, lay off me.

"Perhaps they do not assume that those two distinct entities (love and marriage) must necessarily intersect--either at the beginning of the relationship or maybe ever at all. Perhaps they believe that marriage is about something else altogether." (About the Hmong women she met) p.38

"...the emotional place where a marriage begins is not nearly as important as the emotional place where a marriage finds itself toward the end, after many years of partnership." p.41

"We Americans often say that marriage is 'hard work.' ...but how does marriage become hard work? Here's how: Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one person." p.48

"...perhaps I was asking too much of marriage. Perhaps I was loading a far heavier cargo of expectation onto the creaky old boat of matrimony than that strange vessel had ever been built to accommodate in the first place." p.49

"...marriages based on love are, as it turns out, just as fragile as love itself." p.80

"Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone." p.81 (In the book this quote is from "a friend's grandfather" just to be clear)

"Infatuation is not quite the same thing as love; it's more like love's shady second cousin who's always borrowing money and can't hold down a job." p.101

At this section here in the middle-ish to front-ish she talks about a theory from Dr. Shirley P. Glass, an infidelity expert, that every healthy marriage is composed of windows and walls. You should read about it, it's beyond sensical and eye-opening. 

"Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that's not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner's faults honestly and say, 'I can work around that. I can make something out of that.'? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it's always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you." (this is something Felipe said to her. Cue simultaneous "awww") p. 130

"There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves." p.130

"To be fully seen by somebody, then, and to be loved anyhow--this is a human offering that can border on the miraculous." p.131

"...that an awful lot of my advantages as a child were built on the ashes of her personal sacrifice." (this was what she said of her mother and when I read it I realized that my childhood was very much the same.) p.184

"Raising a child is the very definition of ambivalence. I am overwhelmed at times by how something can simultaneously be so awful and so rewarding." (from a friend of hers, an exhausted single mom and gifted novelist, as she put it.) p. 188 When I read this I felt this rang true to me as a teacher, not saying that it is anywhere near being a mother but being a teacher is also very awful and very rewarding at the same time and it's ambivalent and confusing and frustrating. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading other people's insights into life and the many entanglements that come with life.