Untamed by Glennon Doyle

As a rule, I don’t read a lot of self-help books. Making changes in your life, your thought patterns, etc. is so personal a process that usually I don’t see how any given celebrity is qualified to give me advice. However, recently my therapist recommend I check out Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and I was hooked within the first two pages. I’m passing this recommendation along to you too, because I think this is a book that almost anyone can find something useful or inspiring in.

In Untamed, Glennon Doyle uses her own experiences to describe the way many people live without even realizing it: she realized that she was trying to be the person the world wanted her to be, instead of being true to herself. She unflinchingly breaks down the restrictive expectations, cultural conditioning, and institutional pressures that had driven her (and may be driving all of us) to numbing addictions, restlessness, and chronic dissatisfaction. She urges her readers to abandon the world’s expectations and build a life based on individual desire and imagination. She speaks especially to women, who typically are called by society to be quiet, selfless, efficient, grateful, and basically “good”, and who are run ragged striving to reach these goals. The book is both a memoir and a call to action: rather than trying to fit yourself into a box, reclaim your untamed self and be brave, creating the truer and more beautiful world you imagine for yourself.

I loved this book not only for the advice, which was powerful, but for Doyle’s honest telling of her story. It’s the story I love to read, fiction or non-fiction: our hero suffers through hardship and loneliness, then wrenches herself free and carves her own path (and it doesn’t hurt that she finds true love along the way). It’s also the message I love to hear (and strive to spread): no one should decide what your life looks like except you. Not your family, friends, religion, culture; no one is in charge but you. This is a powerful thing to hear in a time when more than ever we define ourselves by the groups we belong to and how well we fit in, measure up. Doyle is suggesting (and I think she’s probably right) that the freedom to be ourselves without apology and without shame is the best way we have to make a better world and a better life.

If you’re looking to check this book out, be prepared to re-read, to pause, and to take notes. With this book it’s important to take it slow and make sure you’re soaking it all in. But if you’re looking to be empowered, if you’re feeling stifled or lost or dissatisfied, I recommend you try this book for a thoughtful, eye-opening (and often funny) experience.

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

eat pray love made me do itIn the ten years since its electrifying debut, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love has become a worldwide phenomenon, empowering millions of readers to set out on paths they never thought possible, in search of their own best selves. Here, in this candid and captivating collection, nearly fifty of those readers–people as diverse in their experiences as they are in age and background–share their stories. The journeys they recount are transformative–sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, but always deeply inspiring.

Eat Pray Love helped one writer to embrace motherhood, another to come to terms with the loss of her mother, and yet another to find peace with not wanting to become a mother at all. One writer, reeling from a difficult divorce, finds new love overseas; another, a lifelong caregiver, is inspired to take an annual road trip, solo. A man leaves seminary, embraces his sexual identity, and forges a new relationship with God. A woman goes to divinity school and grapples with doubt and belief. One writer’s search for the perfect pizza leads her to New Zealand and off-the-grid homesteading, while another, in overcoming an eating disorder, redefines her relationship not only with food but with herself. Some writers face down devastating illness and crippling fears, and others step out of their old lives to fulfill long-held dreams of singing, acting, writing, teaching, and learning.

Entertaining and enlightening, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It is a celebration for fans old and new. What will Eat Pray Love make you do? (description from publisher)