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A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries
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A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  120 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Strangely enough, this exploration of one of the most private of writing endeavors is likely to send readers off in a zillion different directions. Thomas Mallon's survey of diarists throughout the ages introduces us to the most personal writings of more than 100 diarists, including Samuel Pepys, Leonardo da Vinci, Virginia Woolf, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Mallon divides the ...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published November 1st 1984 by Ticknor & Fields (first published 1984)
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I really loved this book. Mallon is definitely a bit of a wordy intellectual, and can overanalyze (almost to the point of cruelty) some of the diaries and diarists. He often assumes too much of the reader, dropping names and events for context that don't always come to my little mind. With that said, though, this is a wonderful look inside the different people and different reasons people write in journals and diaries. Mallon has read (at least!) dozens of diaries and there are enough direct quo ...more
I really enjoyed this overview of more than one hundred diaries. Mallon groups the diaries into categories of writers and their circumstances and shows that diaries can serve many purposes. Some record travels, others confinement, some religious development and others creative, some are used to argue a point of view whilst others are used as cofessionals.

If you are interested in books, writing and the creative process this book will be of interest to you. The role of diaries as a historical reco
Mallon's survey of the best published diaries and why they are special. We all enjoy coming across our favourites in books like these. Mine are- Boswell, Sarton, Barbellion, Speer and Mansfield. I've noted some diarists I was unaware of such as Helen Bevington, William Souter, Ellen Weeton and Eve Wilson. This book was written 25 years before Mallon's volume on letter writers and betrays a religious inclination I wasn't aware of reading the later volume. He is also a little quick to judge withou ...more
Stacie Nishimoto
"I was, I was - I am."

A fun read indeed! Conversational, witty, erudite, as interested in the diaries of famous poets as those of their overshadowed spouses and siblings. Mallon slips through the pages of chroniclers, travelers, pilgrims, creators, confessors, prisoners, and apologists with ease, contributing empathetic, critical, and humorous commentary. At the very least, peruse the introduction!

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his
Thomas Mallon is a fantastic novelist, whose sentences crackle with humor and irony.

When I found this book at a used bookstore, I wondered whether it was the same Mallon who wrote a non-fiction survey of journals and diaries. It is. And Mallon's same wryness and wit are there just the same.

I keep a journal every day, so there was a lot to interest me in this book. But because it jumps from one diarist to another, the book never grabbed me the way, say, "Fellow Travelers" did. (I am however amaz
May 25, 2009 H added it
Shelves: memoir
An affirmation for journals and diaries, which fascinate us both as writers and readers. Wonderful introduction. The rest is something of a history of diary-writers and their secret stories, categorized by the function of the diaries. The most interesting was the section on diaries logging the writer's creation of art.
Good for reading before bed and finding out which diaries might be interesting. But don't ask it to do any more than that, I think.

Mallon is mostly a pretty good writer, but there are some snags here that even my not-very-attentive reading couldn't pass over.
Dave Peticolas

Mallon surveys diarists and their writing over the centuries.

Never made it past the introduction. Boring.
Joy H.
Feb 18, 2010 Joy H. marked it as keep-in-mind  ·  review of another edition
About diary-keeping.
Willow Curtis
Jul 25, 2013 Willow Curtis marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
pg 23
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Thomas Mallon is a novelist, critic and director of the creative writing program at The George Washington University.

He attended Brown University as an undergraduate and earned a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He received the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in 1994 and won a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1987. Mallon taught English at Vassar College from 1979-1991.

Mallon is the author of the
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