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Enlightenment for Idiots

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  815 ratings  ·  139 reviews
A yoga teacher finds new life in India–just not the one she was expecting.

Nearing thirty, Amanda thought she’d be someone else by now. Instead, she’s an ex-nanny yogini-wannabe who cranks out “For Idiots” travel guides. True, she has a sexy photographer boyfriend, but he’s usually off shooting a dogsled race in Alaska or a vision quest in Peru–or just hooking up with other
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Crown (first published 2008)
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  815 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The perfect novel for all us yoginis. Entertaining and insightful.
Jul 07, 2009 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.
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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,
Jason Pettus
DECLINED TO REVIEW. I originally picked this up at my local library on a whim the other week, after reading a good review of it by one of my Goodreads friends, which as someone who's started doing daily meditation and yoga in the last year sounded like it was going to be right up my alley -- a novel about a plucky but flawed California New Ager who ends up traveling to India in the hopes of having her own "Eat Pray Love" adventure, just to realize that she can't really stand the things she finds ...more
Andrea Larson
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
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!"
PJ Swanwick
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jerry Peace
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Like this book a lot, except for the single reference to the name "Jerry." Not a good one. Imagine that.
Jennifer Ciotta
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anne Cushman developed a surprising concept: a hardcore American yogi who travels to India only to discover that she really doesn't like it. Cushman's approach to India is both realistic and un-idealistic; she portrays India as dirty and unsanitary yet glowing with beauty in rare moments. The young woman protagonist struggles to find enlightenment, which is the assignment for a guidebook she is contracted to write. All activities seem to irk the protagonist, such as meditating, yoga and spiritua ...more
dawn armfield
May 11, 2011 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 rated it it was amazing
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 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jackie Trimble
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ok, since the Fall, I've read this and Eat, Pray, Love. You know what? I'm NEVER going to India.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first few chapters were really funny, with a money-hungry publishers treating the quest of enlightenment like the latest fashion, but it didn't take long for the joke to get old. Ultimately, much of the humor in this book was culturally biased, a nudge and an elbowing of how crazy these Indians are. At the end, the author did make a fair attempt at recovering, but it felt belated to me. I wonder that no one writes flippantly about Christian Evangelists when there is so much more to make fun ...more
10914 Reviews (Britny)
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
For this book, I’m not exactly sure where to start really. I really enjoyed reading this book because it deals with the basic life question, who am I and where is my life heading? And there were plenty of quirky and witty moments that invoked laughter. I can definitely say that I really enjoyed reading and growing along with Amanda, and her friends, as the story progressed. She was a relatable character, and I could picture myself standing exactly in her shoes. The author did a great job of movi ...more
Barbara Rhine
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is fun; it made me laugh out loud. And it has technical descriptions of the famous yoga postures. And it has variety in approaches to yoga and buddhist practice and enlightenment. It is a story of self-discovery of a privileged white woman, even though she doesn't have much money. She is on a contract to produce a book, so has pressure from her agent. She has a feckless boyfriend, of course, and also another one who is ready to commit, and also a third one who is platonic, and also a m ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the book, but felt it was a bit longer than it needed to be.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Yoga story

I lost interest and tried to stay with it but just couldn’t. Even a person loving yoga would be bored I’m sure.
Anita Arentshorst
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took some time to get into the story, but halfway in I really liked Amanda and what she was doing! Couldn't put it down towards the end, wanting to know how it ended.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Brenna Gorbatov
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Angela Risner
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Danielle Allen
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Danica Stone
Jul 12, 2013 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
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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