• Erin Zaranec

A Kiss of Inspiration: State of Wonder & Committed

Reads number five and six of the year were by two of my favorite women - Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert.

I've been wanting to read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett since I listened to The TED Interview podcast: Elizabeth Gilbert Shows Up For... Everything. In the interview, Liz was talking about how she believes that inspiration is a living, breathing thing that is constantly looking for a source to seek out.

She then told host Chris Anderson about a book she began writing about a woman heading into the jungles of the Amazon in a novel about a woman living in a man's world - with a bit of romance mixed in. It wasn't until Liz and her Brazilian-born lover, Jose, were held at the US border that her Amazon novel got put on hold.

And, Committed was born.

Gilbert put her notes and drafts on the Amazon in storage as she travelled Southeast Asia with Felipe after being told by the Department of Homeland Security that the two had to wed or live lives across the globe.

However, just because Liz couldn't fulfill inspirations call didn't mean the inspiration just gave up and died. It simply headed over to Patchett - in the form of a kiss on the cheek. (Want to know more... read Big Magic! Gilbert tells the whole tale beautifully in her book.)

The two books now live separate and distinct lives, but I loved that the two books were born from the same strand of inspiration.

State of Wonder, Ann Patchett

This was a dazzling read by Patchett.

Dr. Marina Singh embarks on a trip to the Amazon after the death of her lab partner and colleague, Dr. Anders Eckman. Patchett is an amazing storyteller who simultaneously had me loving and hating Dr. Singh and the mentor she is searching the jungles for, Dr. Swenson.

I loved that the writing covered so many topics I had no familiarity with: lab work, pharmaceuticals, travel throughout the Amazon, and native tribes, but I had no problem following along and understanding the storyline. Patchett writes so vividly of every insect bite, every tree in the jungle, every habit of the Lakshi tribe.

While Gilbert's Amazonian vision will probably never come to fruition, State of Wonder did not disappoint and I'm so glad the inspiration landed in Patchett's lap.

Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert

A non-fiction piece, Committed was a captivating read.

Confession: I've never read Eat, Pray, Love. But, I'm so glad I read Committed!

Gilbert writes of marriage, and her skepticism on the institution, in a way that isn't isolating to any readers - whether you never want to marry or you've been married for 20 years.

Her chapters are separated into categories surrounding main themes - Marriage and... Surprise, Expectation, History, Infatuation, Women, Autonomy, Subversion, and Ceremony.

I'm actually pretty sad knowing that Liz and Jose (named Felipe in her writings) are no longer together because I really did fall in love with their relationship over their ten hour bus rides and adventures around the globe. I admire Liz for her honesty, her complete sense of self, and her amazing ability to captivate a reader.

While writing up these little recaps, I discovered that the women did a podcast together! I'll be listening soon.

Have you read either of these books? Let me know what you thought!


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