Book review: ‘The List: 100 Ways to Shake Up Your Life’
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” In “Eat, Pray, Love,” writer Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy, India and Indonesia in order to recover from her divorce and shake up her life. Reading Gilbert’s memoir is a remarkable act of voyeurism. Who has the guts to drop everything for a year?
Gail Belsky references Gilbert’s book throughout “The List,” but here’s what I like about Belsky’s alternate universe: She acknowledges that there are many ways to shake things up, and not all of them require a year. (Except for maybe #91, Take a Year Off.)
With dramatically less time, you could still Build Your Own Piece of Furniture (#21), Get a Brazilian Wax (#79) or Spelunk (#39).
Really unmotivated? Just Go Commando (#25), Blow Off the Day (#99) or Spend 24 Hours in Bed (#89).
One concern: Belsky lumps such a wide variety of life-altering suggestions together that she fails ” deliberately or otherwise ” to acknowledge the difference between shaking up a life and yanking the proverbial rug right out from underneath it. So Leave Your Marriage (#43) is sandwiched between the less life-altering Take Up an Instrument (#42) and the only-somewhat-risky Start Your Own Business (#44).
The alternate view? Belsky has taken great pains to acknowledge the variety of different adventures available in the world: adventures in love, food, sex, the outdoors, beauty, art, family, music, money, religion or politics. And she is equally willing to acknowledge the variety of risks involved in said adventures.
It’s such a comprehensive list, in fact, I was a little chagrined to see that of the 100 suggestions on the list, I’ve accomplished roughly four. And that’s only if you allow my one-week campaign for the presidency of my college dorm to count as Running for Office (#13).
So I’m going to keep the book out for a while, and maybe aim to accomplish at least a few more things on Belsky’s list.
Granted, Sleep With a Younger Man (#97) wouldn’t go over well with my husband.
And I’m too poor to Have a Cosmetic Procedure (#33) or Buy Something Outrageously Expensive (#58). I can’t Quit Smoking (#85) since I never started, and how on earth am I going to Join a Cattle Drive (#20) in Aspen?
Ultimately, to call something an adventure, you must want, deep-down, to do it. Doing adventure-type things that make you miserable is just weird.
So maybe I’ll start by taking Belsky’s end-of-book suggestion ” and the blank page she provides ” and Write My Own List.
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