Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits ~ Samara O’Shea

From the Book Jacket:
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.

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.

A tribute to the healing and reflective power of the written word, Note to Self demonstrates that sometimes being completely honest with yourself is the most dangerous and rewarding pursuit of all.

The inspiration to pick this book up wasn’t so much to spark my own journaling (at which I’m admittedly lousy and for several reasons at that,) but moreso because I love epistolary fiction and the journal excerpts included in Note to Self were a great lure. This slim book reminded me, in fact, that I should really read more, and include non-fiction (i.e. real diaries) in my selection.

In April of 1865, John Wilkes Booth, after the event transpired in Ford’s Theatre, wrote in his journal: “In jumping, broke my leg. I passed all his pickets, rode sixty miles that night with the bone of my leg tearing the flesh at every jump. I can never repent it, though we hated to kill.”

And O’Shea doesn’t just include snippets from the journals, she gives a brief history of the events or a bit of personal background, and in Booth’s case his picture. More than anything, the journal entires, both O’Shea’s own and those of historical personages, were fascinating snapshots of life and kept me reading till the end.


One thought on “Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits ~ Samara O’Shea

  1. Both this book and her previous one sound very good. I love good writing and am a complete failure at journaling and letter writing, although I’ve been keeping journals for longer than I care to admit!

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