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By Elizabeth Gilbert
352 pages; Riverhead Books

Because she empowered millions of us to re-examine what we want out of life.

After a scorching divorce, 30-something Elizabeth Gilbert set out on a yearlong journey through Italy, India and Indonesia. Culinary delights, rigorous spiritual searching and exhilarating romance (in that order) were all in store. Eleven years after the book's publication, we're still talking about Gilbert's adventures in self-discovery—and our own—maybe due to ideas like this one. "People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants," she writes. "But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life." — Dawn Raffel