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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute
This book targets more of the "WHY" of journaling than the "how." While most of the journaling books generally give you the standard folderol about journaling being good for you and then jump on to exercises, O'Shea dives into her own journals and shows you, literally, what that means.

She does give some questions to help you journal, but there's none of the...
Published on July 26, 2008 by Seven Kitties

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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good advice for beginners...but...
This book has some truly solid advice on beginning and keeping a journal. Much of that advice may be simply culled from other journaling books, as there's nothing original here, but it IS here. However, I think it's VERY important to point out (without passing judgment)that the author has loaded this book with not just sexuality/sensuality, but GRAPHIC sexual content...
Published on June 6, 2009 by Mike Donovan


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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good advice for beginners...but..., June 6, 2009
By 
Mike Donovan (Middle America) - See all my reviews
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This book has some truly solid advice on beginning and keeping a journal. Much of that advice may be simply culled from other journaling books, as there's nothing original here, but it IS here. However, I think it's VERY important to point out (without passing judgment)that the author has loaded this book with not just sexuality/sensuality, but GRAPHIC sexual content. Some of this book, frankly, I could not even begin to quote here and Amazon allow the review - some of it is THAT graphic. She pulls no punches. She's very young and it shows. Clearly, young people make up the target audience but the cover doesn't necessarily make that known. A lot of people will read how this or that guy "rocks her world," and will get a straight-up dose of just why - even how (if you catch my drift) with the graphic sex talk. No judgment - just a warning. This isn't something you give certain people without their being shocked that a book, seemingly so innocent, could be so full of the author's constant references to her own rather busy sex life. Finally, with what I have said above, this is obviously not something you would give a young teen as a book on starting a journal.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute, July 26, 2008
By 
This book targets more of the "WHY" of journaling than the "how." While most of the journaling books generally give you the standard folderol about journaling being good for you and then jump on to exercises, O'Shea dives into her own journals and shows you, literally, what that means.

She does give some questions to help you journal, but there's none of the 'how to pick a journal' stuff here. She assumes you can manage to pick up some paper and pen on your own without sage advice. In fact, she avoids the "Journal Guru" voice throughout the work. Instead of feeling that you're sitting at the Feet of the Master (as many journaling books tend to do), she's more like the good friend you haven't seen in a while dishing, no-holds-barred, about journaling and her life. (The feminist in me applauds the frankness of this little 'sistah-fest').

Because, oh yeah, you get a lot of her life in here. At times it verges more on memoir than journaling, but no one can accuse O'Shea of holding back or being shy. She ruthlessly exposes extracts from her own journals, and not-very-admirable episodes from her own life (including her decision to cheat on a boyfriend). You certainly come away from this book feeling as if you KNOW this woman, and that she learned to know herself through her journals. More, that you see parts of yourself in her.

So, part of the possible appeal of this book is 'whether or not you like Samara O'Shea.' I can only suggest you look at her other book, or browse this in a bookstore, to see if her personality appeals to you. (Or, publisher, *hint hint* put on a 'look inside' thingummy for this book!) Warning: If you're a hothouse flower, the references to drugs and sex might turn you off.

This is a good book if you've been journaling and want to see your journaling get *deeper*. She's got some really savvy insights into human nature, and poses some really good questions for us to ask ourselves as we journal. For example she has a whole (and very racy!) chapter on sex. To journal or not to journal sexiness was one of the themes. In the end, she doesn't prescribe one solution, but lays out her case for why she does (sometimes) and why she doesn't (at other times). And what a question--do *you* journal about physical intimacy? Why or why not?

If your idea of journaling is getting to know yourself and how you work better (as opposed to, say, writing for your children or grandchildren) this book is a lively and spunky companion.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Journal or Not? Read Note to Self!, July 30, 2008
Thank you for helping me to feel NORMAL, Samara!! I am a 33 year old mother of two young children who has been journalling for over half my life at this point. I started journalling as an awkward and unsure tween and my journals have certainly seen me through much change since then (motherhood!). And, hey, change is scary! Note to Self has allowed me to look back on those scary changes in my life and say, "You are not a freak!"

Samara explains, "We collectively breathe a sigh of relief when we realize we are not alone in our thoughts, words, or deeds." From the start of the book, the reader feels as if Ms. O'Shea is sitting right across the room from you, sharing knowledge, laughs, and little snippets out of her life -maybe all over a pot of tea! She's not afraid to share with the world what she has learned from it in her time here. And best of all, she is encouraging us to look at our OWN path in life by keeping a journal.

"But I'm not the type to. . . " Okay, there's room for you folks who are not current journallers! Chapter 1 begins with reminding those of us who have bashed ourselves for not journalling the way you *thought* you would in that pie-in-the-sky preconceived notion you may have held at once point about what a journal should look like. Maybe it's at this point you gave up, but Samara is on the sidelines cheering you on to give it another go! There are chapters filled with advice on tapping into your own experiences to find something about which to journal. Samara encourages the reader to find his or her own personal connection to journalling. And hey, she admits, maybe the only connection you will ever get is pleasure in reading other people's journals. Well, pull up a comfy armchair, because Note To Self is chalked full of these . . . (check out the chapter Intimate Details if you are a sexual being, otherwise you might want to skip it!)

One last thing, for those of you reading this review, it's online! Ms. O'Shea does not exclude those of us who stare at screens to check out information. There's a chapter on blogging and how this recent update to our lives is affecting journalling-pros and cons, and beyond.

So, here's to you, Samara! Thanks for not being afraid to share yourself with us folks out here who are making our way through one day at a time. It's nice to know you are doing the same.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Equipment for living, April 20, 2009
By 
Samara O'Shea's "Note to Self" doesn't provide endless writing prompts to jump start your journaling habit. She gives the reader something more profound: insights into how journaling provides you with equipment for living.

Sure, she gives a number of suggestions for possible areas to explore in a journal or diary--some that you might not have thought of, others that might have occurred to you but you dismissed as silly, juvenile, or dangerous. But the pith of the book is the insight on how a journal can illuminate our lives. O'Shea does this with specific examples, some from journals and diaries of famous writers, but mainly providing unexpurgated samples from her own journals throughout her life, along with reflections on how/why she wrote what she did.

At first blush, this might seem like a tactic that could end up producing a book that tells you a lot about O'Shea and why she keeps a journal, but precious little about why you might do the same. That's not the case. For those of us who might like the idea of journaling but haven't been able to get into it, O'Shea shows us that when it comes to journaling, anything goes. There is no right or wrong way. Even starting and stopping, ending up with erratic entries rather than dutifully making a daily record of ones thoughts is fine and dandy. The takeaway (at least for me) is that you can use your journal in any way(s) you want. Perhaps the only sin is to be dishonest with yourself, and O'Shea's numerous personal examples (and her willingness to share them publicly) make you feel much less self conscious about writing about anything in your own journal. Heck, if she can write about doing drugs and cheating on her boyfriend in her journal--and then publish it!--certainly you can share your secret fantasy of dancing with the Rockettes or the slightly naughty dream you had about your son's second grade teacher with your own journal.

For me, I've resisted keeping anything like a personal journal for a long time, mainly because something about it seemed . . . well . . . self-indulgent. Obsessive, in some way that I found off-putting (for reasons I can't quite articulate). But I came away from the book with the sense that the opposite is true: by recording one's thoughts and reflections, we get out of our heads and put our feelings out in the world. True, it might be in pages that only we see, but by giving them a life of their own, we can interact with them in a way we can't when we just let them roll around inside our skulls. And this interaction helps us grow and become better people, both for ourselves and for others. That's not self-indulgent. It's good ol' common sense.

By the way, in spite of the semi-scandalous nature of some of O'Shea's entries, one pleasure of the book is that O'Shea herself comes across as a wonderfully complicated, engaging, funny, caring person. In one excerpted entry, she is describing her relationship with God; in the next, giving a blow-by-blow breakdown of a teenage romance. This is also a good lesson in its own right: we are complicated creatures, not just the choir boy or the juvenile delinquent, the princess or the bad girl. Allowing us to see the proud and not-so-proud moments of her life, and showing that she accepts these all as part of herself (at least as she was at one time), O'Shea models how she uses her journal as a way of documenting her life as a work constantly in the process of becoming, not a static entity.

That lesson alone is worth the cover price.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Journaling Book -- It Works!, November 9, 2010
By 
SW (Pennsylvania, US) - See all my reviews
I always heard that journal writing was good for the body and the soul. People always said that journaling was a great way to deal with the stresses of everyday life. I had even heard that keeping a daily journal in general will promote weight loss. However, what I have NEVER been able to do before reading 'Note to Self' by Samara O'Shea, was to actually KEEP a journal and use it for my benefit. In the past I would start a journal and write one or two entries, however, that was it and I would never write in it again. 'Note to Self,' has enabled me to continue my journaling on a regular basis, and in doing so, I feel better about myself, as I've `dealt' with a lot of issues, just by getting them out and writing them down.

'Note to Self' combines Ms. O'Shea's personal and practical journal advice, very personal journal entries, and examples of how others, including well-known people have used a journal to further their own best interests.

'Note to Self' is part instruction manual and part personal therapist. A journal is your gateway to the psyche. I have learned from reading this interesting and practical book is that keeping a journal is the next best thing to having a private therapist at your beck and call, 24 hours a day. It is always there for you. Have something on your mind - write in your journal. Can't figure something out - write in it. Are distraught - reach for your journal and your stress will leave your mind and body and flow to the page. Work issues - perfect for journal writing. Relationship woes - grab the journal, start writing and things have a way of magically sorting themselves out. Feeling guilty about something - start writing as it's like having a private confessional. These are just a few of the things that I learned by reading this book, and I found out that it really works. I am now more confident and less timid, more directed, less stressful, less guilty, generally much happier, and even a few pounds thinner than I was before I started keeping a journal.

This book is different from other journaling books that I have read. It is different because after reading it you will have the tools and mindset to keep a journal that is right for you. Everyone is different in the way they go about writing in a journal, and I learned that there is no one way to write a journal. By reading 'Note to Self,' I was able to learn about different journaling styles. By doing this, I could tell what was right for me and what wasn't, and journaling is all about doing what is right for you. All I know is that not only did I thoroughly enjoy reading this book, but more importantly, because I read this book I have been able to actually keep a journal, and reap the benefits from doing so. I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading - a must for other journalists and diarists, August 12, 2008
A year ago, Samara published The Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing.

Now she gives us snippets from her journal dating back to her teens, which was not that very long ago, from this delightful and talented woman who is not yet 30.

Some of her journal entries:

EXCERPT:

THE FIRST PAGE

"I've always felt a pressure to be profound on the first page of a new journal. I won't say that I always achieve profundity, but I do try. Since there is no obvious outside source creating this pressure, I imagine it's one I put on myself: Say something smart to look back on later! I prefer to think it's nothing like that, but more like the beginning of anything. A new year. A new job. A new relationship. All of these, essentially, are the start of new seasons in our lives, and we want them to be as fresh as clean linens drying in the path of a friendly breeze. So we show off a bit at first - doing everything as diligently as possible. Going to the gym every day, showing up a half hour early for work, or tending to a new lover as if she or she were royalty. In the same vein, we start our journals off on a semi-philosophical note, or at least we acknowledge the fresh start we feel we're making with our words and the act of journalng itself."

AT SIXTEEN

..."I've never suffered from apathy. My problem is that my emotions are too strong and uncontrollable. I'm sixteen years old but I feel about eight. The world around me is foreign and I'll never understand it. Poeple and their actions are so weird. At this point in time, I do in fact have a boyfriend..."

AT NINETEEN

..."My 2nd year of college but first year at Duquesne is closing in on me. I enjoy the warm weather immensely but the warmer it beomces the more I fear. Because that means graduation is upon us. Well, upon the seniors. I've met a handful of seniors this year and I know some will go, never to be seen again by me. I fear good-byes and life is filled with constant good byes."...

AT TWENTY-ONE

...Perhaps it was my grandmom who whispered to me that I couldn't stop writing. I don't remember her saying anything of the sort but perhaps she did. I saw her tonight...At the wrinkled age of 86 she is the victim of a very aggressive liver cancer. Looking at her today was strange. She was tethered in 1,000 tubes and her soft, toothless mouth could barely bring thought to the surface. I kept thinking, "All human beings are subject to decay." (Samara notes at page bottom that this line is from John Dryden's Mac Flecknoe. John Dryden, 1621-1700)...

...I thanked her for taking such good care of me. She took my hand and raised it to her rasin-wrinkled mouth and kissed it. Porbably the nicest moment we've shared in years. I tried to cry softly enough so she couldn't tell. Then I told her how proud I was and how in love with her I was. Now, I hope to hold that moment close. Forever."

Samara also includes journal entries from Anne Frank, Anais Nin, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, among others.

Very well worth reading!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "how to" book that inspires and guides, but is also a good read., April 20, 2009
By 
You'll love this book. A "Note to Self" is a beautifully written book that inspired me to start my own journal. The author includes selections from her own insightful --and sometimes highly provocative-- personal journal that she's been keeping since those awkward teenage years (ahh, what are those?) up to now, as she details living and dating in and around New York City. She combines all this with well chosen excerpts of other known figures of writing, e.g. Sylvia Plath, Mary Louise Alcott, Anais Nin, in order to demonstrate the how and the why of personal journaling. Between the two, you'll find an intimate glance of how we All are why it's so much fun to capture it and write it down.

It was a pleasure to read someone who's in touch with her emotions and who can write so well. I could relate well to her honest and brave voice. I think that readers will find
it compels you to do the same as what she models: to find your truth, to write it down, to cleanse your soul, and to do so while defining yourself within your own little piece of posterity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journal-istic Masterpiece, August 1, 2008
Samara O'Shea's second book is just as outstanding, well-written, insightful and inspiring as her first. While on the surface, it would seem how to journal is obvious, O'Shea's skill is in teasing out the nuances of a form of writing, as well as revealing personal and historical examples that make your own literary efforts in that regard much richer and more profound. Here, again, as in For the Love of Letters, her can-do spirit is clear from the start; in journal writing, there are no musts or shoulds, only possibilities. She dispels immediately with the notion that one must write every day, or that the subject matter must be profound.

Starting with her title, you know this is not going to be a staid, "now pick up your pen" kind of book. That O'Shea even mixes "danger" and "journaling" is a sign of her mindset, one that greatly aids this book, making it an illuminating look at her life and some noted journal keepers, rather than simply a how-to book.

The examples she shares are rich in wordplay and emotional nuance, as is O'Shea's turn of phrase. Her baring of her own journal entries takes bravery, and does its job well, showing not just what she wrote but why she wrote it and the progression of entries over her lifetime.

Divided into chapters focusing on love, heartbreak, faith, blogging, introspection, and sex, Note to Self reveals just how profound are the thoughts that can be revealed when we give ourselves permission to simply let go. Each chapter covers a different type of journal writing, and is guided by O'Shea's own entries, as well as the backstory to them. She tells us briefly bout losing her virginity, and then why she didn't write about it in her journal. On the other hand, hot sex with one man left her eager to rush home to record it in her journal. Her relationship with her journal is a significant one in her life, and it's this sense of intimacy, both via self-knowledge and creating a dialogue, if you will, with your own thoughts, that sustains Note to Self. Her observations about such topics as forgiveness, cheating, and love are profound, and surely aided by the time she has spent exploring them in her journal.

O'Shea shares snippets of diaries by Joyce Carol Oates, Anais Nin, Lewis Carroll, Sylvia Plath, and others (of Plath, O'Shea writes that her poems, lettrs, and journal entries "hold me graciously by the throat.") These additional outlooks add depth to O'Shea's advice and show varying styles of journaling.

This is a feisty, bold, invigorating book. It got me reaching for my journal multiple times as I read, pondering why I so often put it down even as muddled thoughts cry out to be written, even if crudely. O'Shea daringly reveals her fears, mistakes, doubts, triumphs, and personal relationships, and even gets her sister and mother to cough up entries I'm sure they would rather have kept private. By doing so, she further shows what happens when we read someone else's journal, putting ourselves in O'Shea's place upon reading of her mother's despair trying to calm a squalling child (O'Shea).

Readers will be hard-pressed to close O'Shea's book and not long to take pen to paper. I know that's what I did throughout reading the book, and kept picking it up almost as a reminder that the thoughts knocking around in my head deserve the dignity of being preserved in my journal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest book, entertaining to read, April 16, 2014
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This review is from: Note to Self (Kindle Edition)
I very much enjoyed reading O'Shea's book about journaling. She provides a frank, honest, and sincere approach to using writing to connect with yourself. This book does not list dozens of irrelevant writing prompts, but is more of a meditation on journal keeping and how it is important to enhancing one's life. As other reviewers have noted, she does reveal some juicy details about her own relationships, but that's part of what makes the book so honest. If you're keeping a diary or journal, you very much so should be brutally honest about your relationships. For where else can you do so without being judged or looked down upon for making “poor”decisions. O'Shea is also an excellent writer which makes her book entertaining to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars journaling at its finest, September 18, 2010
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Samara O'Shea has done it again with yet another fun and candid look at the world of writing. This time she gives us her take on journal writing, an art that sems to be fading away in this era of technology. Ms. Oshea kept her fun style of writing and humor that is evident in "For the Love of Letters" and brought it with her on this fun read of a subject many might find a bore, simply because we may not know hwo to do it right. This is a great guide for journal keepers opf every level. From the scotch drinking, leather bound embossed jouranl, smoking jacket wearing professionals to the 100 page, wide ruled, wire bound, sneaker wearing novice, this book is a must read.
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Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits
Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O'Shea (Hardcover - July 22, 2008)
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