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What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self Hardcover – April 4, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; English Language edition (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767917898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767917896
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The unusual premise for this compilation is not successful in practice. Spragins, an editor at large for Fortune Small Business, persuaded 40 well-known women—among them Maya Angelou, Queen Noor of Jordan and clothing designer Eileen Fisher—to write short letters passing their current wisdom to their younger selves. But too many of the messages these women send themselves are overly familiar: designer Fisher says she should not be so frightened of being alone (i.e., without a man). Sen. Barbara Boxer admonishes herself to be less judgmental of people who disagree with her. More unusually, Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) encourages her younger self to be true to the inner voice telling her not to eat meat. Madeleine Albright addresses herself at a more advanced age, 44, when her marriage broke down: "You will get through this fog and uncertainty.... You won't become cynical, stoical or hard-bitten...." While the letters reveal personal vulnerabilities, it reduces lessons hard earned through complicated lives to very brief, simplistic messages. (Apr. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“What these letters offer . . . is hope—hope that those who read them will understand that there is a future where the road not taken is no longer regretted, and, in the end, the choices we make, make us who we are.” —Boston Globe

More About the Author

Ellyn Spragins leads Letters To My Younger Self Seminars and Workshops around the world for women's leadership networks and leadership development programs. She has presented at Microsoft, Genentch, Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson and many other corporations. Her books, speeches, seminars and products inspire women to discover their inner wisdom and share it with each other.

She is the author of What I Know Now About Success, published in the spring of 2010 and If I'd Known Then: Women In Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves, published by Da Capo Press in May 2008. Previously she authored What I Know Now: Letters To My Younger Self, a New York Times bestseller and Books For A Better Life finalist, published in April 2006.

Previously she was a columnist at The New York Times, writing Love & Money for the Sunday business section, and Editor-At-Large at Fortune Small Business. She also was Vice President of Editorial Development at Oxygen Media and a contributing editor to Newsweek. While at Newsweek, she won the National Press Club's Consumer Journalism Award in 1997 and the Clarion Award in 1998.

Spragins has been an editor at Smart Money, BusinessWeek and Inc., and a reporter at Forbes. Her articles have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Working Woman, Bloomberg Personal, Worth, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and Town & Country. She has also made numerous television and radio appearances.

Spragins graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English and economics from Barnard College, which awarded her the Estelle M. Allison Prize for Excellence in Literature. She lives with her husband, John Witty, and two children in Pennington, New Jersey.
Learn more at www.letterstomyyoungerself.com.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By TJ on May 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found this book as I was looking for a gift for my daughter's college graduation. The concept seemed incredible to me so I grabbed it up and brought it home. Reading the letters inpired me to write my own letter. I wrote a letter to myself 23 years before, pregnant with my daughter. The process of reflection was intense for me. I cried as I remembered the fears I had--the uncertainty. My sister called as I was writing this letter and the two of us went even farther back than 23 years. We remembered each other as children--when we were unable to communicate our fears. Our conversation helped our relationship and helped me to finish my letter to myself. In the end, my letter to me became my gift to my daughter. Without this book, all this reflection would be lost.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Arctic Voice Earl on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What a super idea ---Contact 41 noted women-- from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to country singer and song writer Trisha Yearwood. Then persuade them to write short letters back to themselves at an earlier age.

I suspect many of us -- men and women --have thought at times about "if only we could go back in time and help our younger selves not only cope with life, but chart a true course and make an impact."

The women in the book go to different times in their past life, but it is clear that they care for their earlier versions, no matter if there are some rough edges and mistakes.

Clothing designer and entrepreneur Eileen Fisher, 55, tells herself in her early twenties "You don't have to be afraid of living alone," in response to a troubling live-in relationship.

Author and poet Maya Angelou tells her younger self: "Don't let anyone raise you. You've been raised."

Country music star Lee Ann Womack finds her younger version stressed in recording her first album. She advises making a record to enjoy, rather than one just aimed at success.

I agree with other reviewers that the book is of interest to men and women alike. But I understand that Spragins may do a future book with letters from men. I can hardly wait.

Personally, I'd love to go back over 40 years to my teens and tell myself not to get so hooked on the Chicago Cubs. "Being a Cub fan will result in decades of disappointment," I'd tell that young man with a full head of hair, and so much idealism.

Enjoy the book!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Annya Bergman on June 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just Read Spragins amazing collection of letters and had to post this message about it. If you're looking for a meaningfull thought provoking gift this is it! This book will be cherished not just because it reveals the inner thoughts of some amazing people on our planet, but because it confirmations the inner voice in all of us that is often ignored.

This book is wonderful for young people who could use the sage advice of a mentor. It's great for people thinking about the changes they want to make in their life. It's also a good way to stimulate you to write your own letter.

After reading "Letters to My Younger Self" I wrote a letter to myself about what I wished I'd known 20 years ago. The experience was very helpfull. It allowed me to think about the past and contemplate the future in a way I hadn't before.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Walecia Konrad on April 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Each woman is not only inspirational but very real. The essays that deal with parenting are especially gratifying. If you ever thought successful moms didn't juggle and don't feel the guilt just like the rest of us, this book will set the record straight. How wonderful to have so many well-known voices showing their vulnerabilities and, in the process, inspiring women of all ages. Spragins does a wonderful job of introducing the unique qualities of each women with relevent and surprising bios. Buy it for yourself, and every woman you care deeply about.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By F. Figg on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting concept, and led to some good discussion at the bookclub. I gave it 3 stars because the content was sporadic. Some of the letters were great and inspiring, and some were inane. (Vanna White---PLEASE!). I thought that the letters would be more insightful, too many were about being hopeful, and Mr. Right is waiting for you. I most enjoyed the letters from the older women, they tended to be the most thoughtful. Younger women did not seem to have enough perspective on life to be writing back 10-20 years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Diane DiResta on April 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved the idea of writing a letter to your younger self. It seemed to be therapeutic and a good reminder that there is always a silver lining. The context of the women's lives was as interesting as the letters themselves. It makes you think about the difficult turning points in your life and what you needed to know then. In that sense it's a book about faith. It's both comforting and inspiring to know that even women at the top struggle with the same issues.
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Format: Hardcover
Some books are to skim through, others are like chocolate and should be enjoyed slowly and carefully. "What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self," is one of the latter. Give it with a highlighter as a gift and the recipient will always remember the event with a smile. This is a book that's full of wisdom, good, meaningful advice. A sort of mental reset button for individuals going through tough times and wondering if they'll last forever. No, they won't and here's the reassurance from 43 well-known and famous women who have been-there, done-that and can tell you in no uncertain terms what they -- and you -- should keep in mind when the tough stuff comes your way.

Compiled and written from the premise of: "If you could somehow postmark a letter back through time to you younger self, what age would you choose and what would the letter say?" Ellyn Spragins offers brief introductions and letters from 43 women whose names you'll probably recognize. And, it is indeed, good stuff! Here's a sample...

"You will get through this fog and uncertainty...Over the next ten years you'll rebuild and reinvent yourself, finding success...strive to achieve all you can, with the gifts you have..." (Madeleine Albright)

"Your life will be like a big box of candy every day. But the problem will be savoring the one in your mouth. You'll no sooner bite into one piece than you'll have your eye on the Milky Way over there...Life will be your school, and you'll be successful. But with a mentor and some training, your success could really be amazing." (Rachel Ashwell)

"I'm not one of those adults who think kids have the best lives. I know how much the world's traps and dangers burden you...But you're going to be okay. Roz, here's the other thing I want you to know.
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