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Enlightenment For Beginners

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  683 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Nearing age thirty, Amanda thought she’d be someone else by now. Instead, she’s just herself: an ex-nanny yogini-wannabe who cranks out “For Idiots” travel guides just to scrape by. Yes, she has her sexy photographer boyfriend, but he’s usually gone—shooting a dogsled race in Alaska or a vision quest in Peru—or just hooking up with other girls. However, she’s sure her new ...more
Published (first published 2008)
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Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The perfect novel for all us yoginis. Entertaining and insightful.
Oct 19, 2008 Tricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chick-lit readers, yoga students, anyone interested in travelling to India
Recommended to Tricia by: yoga journal review
This was a really funny book about a young woman who is a free-lance writer for a 'dummies' book series. She is charged with writing a book on enlightenment - her editor says it is a really hot topic & can she write a 'how to' book in a few months!!

The protagonist, Amanda, is self-deprecating and witty, and you really like her a lot. In India she encounters many crazy and interesting people, and meets and becomes close to an American traveler. Devi Das is a true enlightment seeker: celibate,
Andrea Larson
This book attracted me because I was looking for some light reading, and this was light, but it was more than that. It was a learning experience about India and the world of ashrams, yoga and meditation, as well as the living conditions and people of India.

Amanda is a yoga instructor and author, and her latest assignment is a plum job: write a book called Enlightenment for Idiots. Since it has always been her dream to travel to India to learn from the best gurus, she can't wait to get to it. Whi
PJ Swanwick
Mar 14, 2012 PJ Swanwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, new-age
Spiritual novel is part chicklit, part exposé, and always fun

Want to see what a spiritual journey to India is really like? Forget "Eat, Pray, Love" and pick up this gem of a novel: "Enlightenment for Idiots" by Anne Cushman. Published in 2009, the book exposes India's spiritual warts with a humorous touch, packaged in an engaging tale of self-discovery. This fun, fast-paced story reaches emotional and spiritual depths beyond standard chicklit fare.

The story charts Amanda's path through a slew of
Feb 16, 2010 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Enlightenment for Idiots may have single-handedly derailed my quest for enlightenment. If it's this boring, who the hell cares.

It took me FOREVER to finish this book. And it's not that it's boring, it's just that the plot twist that happens about a 1/3 of the way into the book changed the premise entirely. If I had known that was going to happen I would not have started the book. Once that happened I knew what the main character was going to consider being enlightened and I'm too old to do that.
Nov 24, 2008 Patty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A cute take on chick lit, but most definitely chick lit. I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor and "personal growth" in-jokes, as well as the travelogue aspects of her Indian journey. But the plot (which, by the way, pales in comparison to the book jacket description) is pretty contrived. And there's no subtlety in this book. The last few pages in particular are so heavy-handed I wanted to scream, "Enough already! I get it!"
Nov 27, 2008 Starbaby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Starbaby by: the library bookshelves
Another one of those books that you don't want to end. I actually had to put it down (hard to do, believe me) and *not* read it, because there were so few pages left and I didn't want to finish her life! This is not a book I thought I would have liked. I was just looking at the "new books" shelf in the library and kept coming back to it. I am so glad that I checked it out and I can't wait for her next book!
dawn armfield
May 11, 2011 dawn armfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, travel
I enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, the detailed descriptions were exquisite (I could practically taste that smokey sweet chai), and the characters were real. I especially loved Devi Das, who was the comedic relief/guru of the book. His lines were almost always perfect.

There were times when Amanda's self-absorption bothered me, but then I realized that that's where this character was in her life. She needed to focus on that, focus on how to get beyond that. That *is* what the book is reall
Aug 30, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good, not good--the reviews are varied.

I can only speak for myself. As a 2x traveler to India (the first for 8 months to ashrams as a single woman) as well as a seasoned traveler in other parts of Asia, Cushman's descriptions and details were so right on that I was falling out of my seat laughing. Perhaps it's the inside joke, but when you get it, you GET it! She is pretty much 100% accurate and dead-on, including the feelings/escapades of main character Amanda herself.

Totally superb. Witty wri
Oct 28, 2008 DMD rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was okay. I had very low hopes for it at the beginning since it seemed to be about the sterotypical yoga student in the US who thinks India is all about yoga and the kama sutra. The student gets a book deal to write about finding enlightenment in India and this book is like a travelogue. The descriptions of India were very accurate and the portrayals of certain gurus were reminiscent of some currently popular ones. Also, there were two characters that I really liked, the doctor and the ...more
I thought this book was pretty uneventful. Amanda, the main character, would break up and get together with her loser boyfriend Matt throughout the whole book! Then she got pregnant with his baby and he got pissed at her for keeping it. Amanda had trouble making her own decisions and worried constantly about everyone and everything in her life. She went to ashram after ashram in India and talked with the greatest teachers and she still wouldn't believe what they told her. My favorite characters ...more
Merryellen Towey Schulz
So-so. I don't know why I have this book. I think it might have been in a pile of books that was given to me. I picked it up to read because I was looking for something that would not take too much concentration during the busy end-of-term and holiday time. While the book is a lightweight, I actually learned from it and enjoyed the author's humor. She writes with analogies, many of which were unique and right on. The descriptions of places in India as well as the various types of meditation, wer ...more
Mar 25, 2015 Kecia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit, india, usa
I picked this book up because I'll be traveling to India this summer with a group which has an eerily similar name to the title of this book. How could I not want to read this? Sadly it was a disappointing read.

The story is about Amanda, an aspiring yoga instructor and occasional writer. Amanda has the world in her pocket but she doesn't know it. (Youth really is wasted on the young!) While suffering the heart ache of a break-up with a man any other woman would have ditched on date one, Amanda i
Jackie Trimble
Dec 22, 2010 Jackie Trimble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, since the Fall, I've read this and Eat, Pray, Love. You know what? I'm NEVER going to India.
Brenna Gorbatov
Jul 26, 2010 Brenna Gorbatov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. The main character, Amanda, I could see being a friend of mine and at times her life reminded me of my own or of my close friends' lives. The author made the story come to life. I could not put the book down!

I think why I liked this book so much is because of the beginning setting: San Francisco. I live in Santa Cruz, so there are references to the Bay Area, especially San Francisco. It is also about a girl who practices yoga and being someone who has practiced on a
Let me begin this review with the statement that I enjoyed the book. While I did not find spiritual enlightenment, I feel sure that I now know something about the idea of enlightenment from a variety of perspectives. My only complaint about the book is that it is too long the details and descriptions are individually stunning, but I think some could have been shortened or deleted for the sake of the book s readability.[return][return]Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman follows twenty-nine y ...more
Apr 18, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angela Risner
Jun 04, 2012 Angela Risner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amanda is a freelance writer who wants to be a Yoga instructor. However, to make rent, she writes for the "For Idiots" series. She's down on her luck in both the romance and the finance departments when her agent offers her the chance to write the book, "Enlightenment for Idiots."

Amanda takes you on a journey through India with her, where she attempts just about every type of Yoga, meditation, and spiritual methodology known to man.

A surprise is in store for Amanda, though, one that will change
May 02, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit that it was only after buying this book that I noticed "A Novel" under the title.
Given the author's background and previous books, I assumed this was an auto-biography.

It certainly reads like one.
The characters are well drawn, the pace is good, and the detail is excellent - the India experience comes across strongly.
Das Devi is one of the most likable people I've ever met in a book! Mentally a bit off-the-rails, but as stable and dependable as ever a man could be :)

Danica Stone
Jul 12, 2013 Danica Stone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh, Goodreads. I wrote a whole review, then saw that I was on the hardcover edition and decided I might as well change it. And it took me to a whole new page and erased everything I had written so far. That's not good user experience, schmoes.

Anyway, my point was that this book is a standout in the chick lit genre because it has much more interesting plot points, seems well-researched (the many scenes set in different parts of India come off as believable and interesting), and features a codep
Danielle Allen
Nov 14, 2011 Danielle Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cushman's novel really resonated with me on many levels, but the main thing I related to was her constant search for truth, and her occasional disappointments. I think that all of us who are looking for something greater than ourselves, or something within ourselves that is greater than what we have already discovered, will find comfort in Cushman's journey.

The protagonist has to reach enlightenment on a schedule, due to a book publishing deadline, and as you'd expect, this isn't the type of co
Linda Hollingsworth
After breaking up with her current boyfriend, 29 year old Amanda, writer of "Idiot" instruction books and yoga teacher, is sent to India to write Enlightenment for idiots. She is completely at a loss, lonely and scared in a culture she doesn't understand, trying to write a book on a topic that is foreign to her. As she begins to search for the way into an understanding that will allow her to write the book, she becomes caught in dealing with the details and repercussions of her past, including t ...more
Jan 13, 2009 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Amanda, an up and coming yogini and Idiot guide writer, is sent to India by her publisher to study enlightenment and how to get it, it’s like a dream come true. But after chasing enlightenment from Ashram to Ashram, guru to guru, Amanda wonders if “enlightenment [is:] just the booby prize, the thing you went after when what you really wanted didn’t work out.”

Cushman paints a vivid picture of India, giving the story a rich sense of place. She juxtaposes Amanda’s search for enlightenment wit
At 29 Amanda does not have her life together. She has a bad relationship with a photojournalist who is gone more than he’s home, she’s broke and is aspiring to be a yogi. To pay the bills she writes “how to” guides for idiots. When her boss pitches her “Enlightenment for Idiots” and with it the chance to travel to India. So she goes and discovers herself, along with an intriguing cast of characters including the various gurus she encounters. Sort-of like a fictional Eat, Pray, Love type story, h ...more
Jan 22, 2009 Jeanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful, funny, touching novel that spoke to me greatly. Along the lines of Eat Pray Love, but somehow lighter, and more personal... I sat a meditation retreat with Anne Cushman and found her to be a fascinating person: deep of spirit, and brimming with wisdom and great sense of humor. Reading her book only helped reaffirm this.

Oh, and the book isn't calling anyone an "idiot," it is simply referring to the "for idiots" publishing company that her protagonist, Amanda works for. Amanda
Feb 21, 2016 A. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Okay story, kind of over-girly with a veneer of spirituality. Warning (and this isn't a spoiler, I just ought to have read a few more reviews) A whole lot of this book is a pregnancy / birth narrative. If that's hard for you (it's very, very hard for me) give this one a pass. If that's not hard for you, enjoy.
Shelby Lemon
Dec 17, 2015 Shelby Lemon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me want to travel! It was fun learning about the different places in India and the tidbits on yoga were fun too. I can say that it definitely inspired me to get on the mat a little bit more ;)
Aug 28, 2012 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was actually listed in my "recommendations". This was Anne Cushman's first novel and I am glad I picked it up. The main charachter in this book, a yogini, fell into the job of writting those How To Book for Idiots. Her latest assignment? To write a book entitled "Enlightenment for Idiots." She embarks upon her journey to India to find the answer to what enlightenment is and how to find it. This is not only a novel about enlightenment but also several love stories entertwined therein. I ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Jean rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. Anyone who hated Eat, Pray, Love will adore it, as Liz always travelled without getting sick, loosing luggage, or having to make massive changes in her plans. Amanda is a yoga teacher and meditator who always wanted to go to India. She's living with a man who is a professional nature photographer, and a perpetual Peter Pan. Amanda is also a writer, and gets the opportunity to visit India and get information about vacations at ashrams and meetings with gurus. Her trip has an ...more
May 07, 2009 Janice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun, light book. The author has previously written books about yoga and Buddhism, this is her first fiction. In this book she uses her extensive knowledge about yoga, etc., to tell a story about a young woman, Amanda, who writes books in the "For Idiots" series, and is chosen, due to her long time practice and teaching of yoga, to do a book titled "Enlightenment for Idiots". Amanda heads off for a tour of ashrams and yogis in India; at the same time she is trying to gain insight into ...more
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As a writer and teacher of yoga and Buddhist meditation, Anne Cushman explores the poignant intersection between the inspirational ideals of spiritual practice and the gritty, comical, chaotic, and heartbreaking details of ordinary life.

Anne has been investigating the relationship between Eastern spiritual traditions and contemporary Western life for more than 25 years. She graduated from Princet
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