I loved how the book was structured.
How This Book Works
The 109th Bead"
"When you're traveling in India...you see a lot of people wearing beads around their necks. ... These strings of beads are called japa malas."
"The traditional japa mala is strung with 108 beads. Amid the more esoteric circles of Eastern philosophers, the number 108 is held to be most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to nine, which is three threes. And three, of course, is the number representing supreme balance, as anyone who has ever studied either the Holy Trinity or a simple barstool can planinly see. Being as this whole book is about my efforts to find balance, I have decided to structure it like a japa mala, dividing my story into 108 tales, or beads. This string of 108 tales is further divided into three sections about Italy, India and Indonesia- the three countries I visited during this year of self-inquiry."
I loved this. Each section has 3 names as well. I thought it was very clever writing.
There was a bit her friend in Italy told her about cities that I also loved.
"He said, "Don't you know that the secret to understanding a city and its people is to learn-what is the word of the street?" Then he went on to explain, in a mixture of English, Italian and hand gestures, that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be- that is the word of the city. And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there. "What's Rome's word?" I asked. "SEX," he announced. "But isn't that a stereotype about Rome?" "No." "But surely there are some people in Rome thinking about other things than sex?" Giulio insisted: "No. All of them, all day, all they are thinking about is SEX." "Even over at the Vatican?" "That's different. The Vatican isn't part of Rome. They have a different word over there. Their word is POWER." "You'd think it would be FAITH." "It's POWER," he repeated. "Trust me. But the word in Rome- it's SEX." ... Guilio asked, "What's the word in New York City?" I thought about this for a moment, then decided. "It's a verb, of course. I think it's ACHIEVE." (Which is subtly but significantly different from the word in Los Angeles, I believe, which is also a verb: SUCCEED....)"
I found that so intriguing. I've been trying to pin down my own word ever since reading it.
There was one other part I had intended to share about how prayer works but I really don't want to spoil it for you if you are going to read the book. If you do, it is on the 58th bead (p.176).