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3.9 out of 5 stars
What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 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
on June 4, 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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book and it was comforting and validating for me to know that so many famous women have experienced many of life's struggles that us everyday women are challenged with. Many of the letters give important insights and inspirational advice in an honest, approachable and down-to-earth manner. I will definately refer back to many of the letters in this book that struck a cord with me. Great advice for all women of all ages, in all walk of life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 3, 2010
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. Being an adult is better than being a kid. You're going to grow up -- healthy and whole -- and everything you're feeling now is going to be great material for your work." (Roz Ghast)

"...failure is busting you wide open so that you can learn what true success means: being a whole person, someone with balance and compassion...You'll learn that it's okay to be vulnerable and okay to say. 'I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my life.' You'll develop a taste for the happiness you can have just from living a life, from mundane, everyday pleasures..." (Jane Kaczmarek)

Excellent book! Suitable for giving to that special woman/girl in your life or to keep for yourself, to set by your bed for a meaningful "conversation-in-print" before turning the light out.

R. Neil Scott
Middle Tennessee State University
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read these reviews before I bought "What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self" and they all recommend the book for women. I agree that it's a must-read for women, especially for high school and college students. But I think men -- fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, employers! -- could learn a lot from the stories and personal insights shared by these accomplished women. Spragins's introductions to each of the letters are also insightful and provide just the right type of background the reader needs to truly enjoy the letters. Buy it for Mother's Day, wedding showers, or graduation gifts!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self
Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

This 208-page book makes a terrific gift for young girls from high school through college. However, I think men -- fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and employers, too -- could learn a great deal from the stories and personal insights shared by these accomplished women. This book makes a great graduation gift! Spragins has asked 40 well-known women -- including Maya Angelou, Senator Barbara Boxer, Trisha Yearwood, Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor of Jordan and clothing designer Eileen Fisher, to name but a few -- to write letters to their younger selves sharing insights, inspiration, their most vulnerable moments, and down-to-earth guidelines This is a meaningful, honest, approachable, thought-provoking, book full of sage, wise advice designed specifically for younger women, and because of this it will give them guidance, direction, goals, as well as sage advice. It is a quick, easy, and enjoyable read.
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