Sunday, July 03, 2011

Note to Self

Title: Note to Self- On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Author: Samara O’Shea

Date Finished: May 13, 2011

Personal Book Count: 19 out of 75

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Genre/ Subject: Non-fiction: Journaling

First Line: “I swear to God, this is different.”

Why did I pick this book?: I was browsing the writing section of my library. My eye wondered over, and the bright color and title caught me.

Summary and Review: taken from

“Keeping a journal is easy. Keeping a life-altering, soul-enlightening journal, however, is not. At its best, journaling can be among the most transformative of experiences, but you can only get there by learning how to express yourself fully and openly. Enter Samara O'Shea.

O'Shea charmed readers with her elegant and witty For the Love of Letters. Now, in Note to Self, she's back to guide us through the fun, effective, and revelatory process of journaling. Along the way, selections from O'Shea's own journals demonstrate what a journal should be: a tool to access inner strengths, uncover unknown passions, face uncertain realities, and get to the center of self. To help create an effective journal, O'Shea provides multiple suggestions and exercises, including:

Write in a stream of consciousness: Forget everything you ever learned about writing and just write. Let it all out: the good, bad, mad, angry, boring, and ugly.

Ask yourself questions: What do I want to change about myself? What would I never change about myself?

Copy quotes: Other people's words can help you figure out where you are in life, or where you'd like to be.

It takes time: Don't lose faith if you don't imme­diately feel better after writing in your journal. Think of each entry as part of a collection that will eventually reveal its meaning to you.

O'Shea's own journal entries reveal alternately moving, edgy, and hilarious stories from throughout her life, as she hits the party scene in New York, poses naked as an aspiring model, stands by as her boyfriend discovers an infidelity by (you guessed it) reading her journal, and more. There are also fascinating journal entries of notorious diarists, such as John Wilkes Booth, Anaïs Nin, and Sylvia Plath.”

I have seen many reviews on this book floating around out there. Some of them are great, and some less so. But for me, this book was one that falls in the “LOVE” category. I love the voice the author uses, and how she peppers everything with blog entries, both of her own and others. She adds lots of anecdotes, both the good and the bad. She made some points which made me think, not just about journaling but about things in general. I like books that make me think, and more than that, decide WHAT I think. When I came upon this book, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write or journal. Or what I wanted to write. Reading this gave me inspiration for both, and lots of fodder for my imagination. It also broadened my perspective on journaling. I always thought of it as more of a “Dear Diary, I had the worst day with my boyfriend…” book. And she does talk about reflecting, and recording your day, but also talks about adding song lyrics, quotes, poems, pictures, ect. And who knows? I have been wanting to start a ‘family life story’ for years. I could include some interesting details in it if I do this. I got so into the process, for a while, journaling really became my priority over writing (and sometimes reading). You know when you find a non-fiction book that is so good you can’t decide if you want to go do what it’s talking about, or stay and read more about it? This is exactly what this was like. I discovered a nice cheap hobby, if you like to write (and I do =D), and very portable, with only needing a notebook and a pen. And I didn’t even go out and buy a journal (who knew how long this would last?). I used a note book I had on hand. I was surprised how quickly it started to fill up, as I carried it with me, and used it, all the time. (In fact, I am referring to the notes I made for this review out of it, heh). I am a bit of a blogger (only 4 at current count) and I was a little afraid how the journal and blogs would work together. I am finding they coexist quite nicely together, and one doesn’t have to replace the other. There are very few books I re-read (I don’t see the point when there are SO MANY new books out there to read all the time), but this is one I can see myself re-reading. When I decided this was the case, and it was time to return it to the library, I tracked down a new copy on the internet (the only place I could find it) and bought it. Now, to get my hands on her book about letter writing…

So what is your favorite book on journaling, or journal (ex. Diary of Anne Frank)?

Agree? Disagree? Recommendations? Any insights, suggestions, or comments on the book or format, or blog at all are most welcome. If you have read this and/ or review it yourself, please let me know. Can you think of any books like this? Give me a recommendation! =D

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