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What I Know Now: Letters To My Younger Self

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  1,739 Ratings  ·  240 Reviews
Extraordinary women share the wisdom they wish they'd had when they were younger.

Thoughts from many famous women gathered in a notes-to-self format.
Hardcover, 183 pages
Published 2006 by Broadway Books
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Community Reviews

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Oct 04, 2007 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I agree with many that the letters are not super profound for the most part. Many are sort of boring and self-indulgent. I remember being very moved by the woman who could not get pregnant and adopted children. One thing that I thought was interesting was that many of the women wanted to tell themselves how to get through a harder time quicker when in reality it seems as if the long struggle made them who they are today. Also, due to the current wealth of many of the women I felt that their advi ...more
Oct 02, 2007 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Very inspiring!!!

I really enjoyed this book. The description reads "Extraordinary Women Share the Wisdom They Wish They'd Had When They Were Younger." The amazing part is that although the women are amazing...the struggles they face are ordinary- just the same as I and others face. So, I really enjoyed reading their perspective and advice to themselves.

Here is a portion from Cokie Roberts letter to herself when she was a young mother:
"Dear Cokie, ...Being the mother of two tiny kids frazzles y
Aug 05, 2008 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Kind of a disappointment...partially my fault though. I had this on my PBS wishlist for quite awhile so I was happy for it to finally arrive a couple of days ago. It wasn't what I expected (I thought it was memoir...couldn't see the tiny print that listed the contributors in the thumbnail!) but I figured it would still be interesting. There are a lot of admirable women who have done some extraordinary things. I found that by the end of the book though, I liked most of them a lot less. The book j ...more
Crystal Velasquez
Sep 26, 2007 Crystal Velasquez rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women
This book was interesting in that it makes you ask yourself what you would tell your younger self at some critical time in your life. What knowledge do you have now that you wish you had then? What's interesting is most often the advice was not anything concrete like, "Don't marry that guy," or "Go ahead and move to California." It was more like, stop wasting so much time trying to please other people. Take the time to enjoy your success. Or for some of the women who lost loved ones too soon--sp ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Late Twenties, or just feeling lost
Recommended to Kate by: Bas Bleu
I was quite hoping to be one of the many 'younger selves' in this book. The book itself was a great read; you 'meet' so many people you have heard of before, and other not-so in the newspapers everday people. It was an inspirational read on a slightly deeper level for me, however I failed to identify with anyone person included in the book. I was hoping to find out I was like a young Cokie Roberts or Maya Angelou, that we have the same potential, and that their words might help guide me. But, I' ...more
oh no! apparently what I wrote as a review didn't come through...thanks Kelly for pointing it out.

Anyway, I thought there would be more depth to this, but it really *is* just a series of letters written to a woman's younger self. Reading Vana White's letter telling herself it'd be a bad idea to get photographs taken in transparent underwear wasn't a piece of advice I could use...nor wanted to know. I think this was a missed opportunity to show that hindsight can lead to wisdom, not just regrets.
This was given to me as a gift by a very good friend. I can see why she gave it to me. There's a fierce independence underlying these letters, and I love the concept. That said, I found the whole thing kind of self-indulgent...which I guess is what you'd expect when you ask people to write letters to their younger selves to be published. It's just that a lot of the letters FELT like they were written for other people to read, not their younger selves. I ended up skimming a lot of them.

The most e
May 19, 2009 Jfrlewis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The good news is that this book only takes about an hour to read. The bad news is that I spent an hour reading this book. I liked the idea of the book, but it just did not have much substance. Given the chance, I'd rate it at 1.5 stars.

The letters all had similar tones and read like a high school commencement address. "Be true to yourself." "The best is yet to come." "Be kind to others and do not judge too quickly."

The paragraphs introducing each woman were somewhat interesting. However, they w
Nov 18, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this little simple book filled with so many wise words from so many wise women. I think Cokie Roberts was my favorite, her words on motherhood. And then maybe Barbara Boxer, and her words about how she needed to be more open to other peoples opinions. lol. I could use a bit of that myself! I would recommend this to anyone needing to know that they aren't alone with their own worries and insecurities. That so many seemingly perfectly wise, strong, inspirational women have gone through a l ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Christy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like the idea, but I wish that the letters would have been longer and more involved. I would have been more interested in reading similar letters written by real, average women instead of Successful Women We're Supposed To Emulate. It seemed like it was written for suburban soccer moms in need of ~*inspiration*~.
Sep 15, 2007 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Words cannot describe how I felt after reading this book. My good friend Allison gave this to me and I read it coming home on the plane. I experienced laughter, tears and an awareness that I need time to reflect on how far I have come and be grateful for what I have now - which is way more than what I had back when I was 23.
Feb 20, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A little sappy and overly sentimental at times, but for the most part it was a sweet and endearing book. Great concept.
My word! Thank you ladies for the wisdom, words, experience and lives you have shared.
Jun 10, 2013 Tuli'smama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy read. Nightime or morning quick read. Short individual stories from each woman.
Loved it
My takeaway from this book is that we all have the same fears and self doubts, times when we are confused or make bad decisions. These women reacted to their negative periods in ways that made them stronger, and wish they could go back and reassure their younger selves. It makes me wonder what I would tell myself, and when.

I highly recommend this one.
Michelle Young
Nice concept but not very insightful.
Kelly Ballard
Feb 21, 2009 Kelly Ballard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I Know Now Letters to My Younger Self is a great, quick read. Fascinating women share their wisdom that comes with time, life and success. What surprised and delighted me most was the humor, love and kindness these women have for their younger selves as they stumbled through a previous life crisis. Not surprisingly, balance and trust-in-self are the central messages of the letters.

I particularly loved Roz Chast’s letter to her neuroses plagued nine year old self, opening line, “You are not
Mar 07, 2009 Blueberry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"This is wonderful compilation of letters gathered by a woman who lost her Mom. There is something about loosing a parent, certainly a Mother that leaves an empty space. I find myself wishing to talk with my Mom about everything from how I'm doing as ...more This is wonderful compilation of letters gathered by a woman who lost her Mom. There is something about loosing a parent, certainly a Mother that leaves an empty space. I find myself wishing to talk with my Mom about everything from how I'm ...more
Janet Morrison
It was good but I think I was hoping for more. Maybe I was looking for them to somehow impart some wisdom to me. It occurred to me as I read them that when we go back to write to our younger self, it's kinda hard to tell yourself to do anything different...because you already know the outcome...and most of us become ok with the outcome simply because that's what made us the way we are.

When I got to the very end and read the author's remarks, the book kinda grew on me. The thing I really liked,
Kara Mazzucco
May 22, 2008 Kara Mazzucco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book to read at first because I thought it would be inspiring and the book was exactly like I thought. It was intriguing and uplifting. All of the famous womens stories were all different and some were good or sad, but they all meant something.
This book was very detailed and and kept my attention. Each individual famous woman had their own story and were not afraid to share it. The author gave some background information about their story and then the famous woman would write a l
Jul 17, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea where this book came from. I don't remember receiving it as a gift, and I don't remember buying it. But I found it on the bookshelf in my guest room, and after deciding to give it a try, decided that it was fate when I read the introduction:

"I sought the insights of these remakrable women for a very simple reason. I miss my mother. She died in a plane crash when I was thirty-two. This was the first tragedy that ever befell my fortunate fmaily and it seemed like an astonishing, the
Brittany Kubes
A gift from my mother, this was. It was a cutesy little compilation of letters of “extraordinary women” to their younger selves. For each woman, there was a 1-2 page bio accompanied by the 1-2 paragraph letter -->a little scant, and more info would have been appreciated.

I particularly liked the bit on my childhood idol - gymnast Shannon Miller. Her letter is exactly how I imagined her life would be: extremely rewarding in her gymnastic greatness, but hampered by her instilled need to please s
Mar 03, 2014 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Bleh. A book club selection that I just couldn't sink my teeth into. It was a hard book to stomach for a person who doesn't really believe in regrets. Most of the letters were too personal for me to take seriously as advice for my own life. There really wasn't one woman featured that I was interested in, either, maybe because it's 8 years old. I did enjoy Barbara Boxer's section where she instructs us to not judge others and discussed how spending energy denouncing others for their differing bel ...more
May 15, 2014 Yitka rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like there was a lot of potential with this book, not all of which was actualized. While it was great to hear many incredibly successful women--some with celebrity status--share such down-to-earth stories about themselves and their pasts, I felt the book was on the whole shallower than it could have been. The letters and each woman's section are so short that you don't truly get to know any of them well ... Also, though many of the women might have interesting things to say, few of them a ...more
May 26, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all 20's/30's women.
Recommended to Kristen by: Abby Parker
This was a quick read, set up almost like short stories, the author gives a background of each woman and her interview with her, then reveals the letter.
Some are better than others, many distill down to the same advice. The older the woman, the better the letter, in my opinion. It was also very interesting women who had changed names or identities between living the moment and writing the letter back to the person at that moment.
One of the best things about the book was the impetus. The author
Dec 07, 2013 Jeni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the idea of the book, but I do share the criticisms of other reviewers in that the letters are often too specific to really garner much wisdom from for a diverse audience.

Some common nuggets of wisdom were 'save money!', 'listen to your instinct if you're not truly happy with your partner' and 'you can have it all... just not at the same time'. The biggest thing that seemed to make all of these women a success in their own lives was by putting their own desires first and not allowing fea
Feb 05, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was mostly hoping it wasn't a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" type book. I was intrigued by some of the women who are included in the book. While this isn't a new book by any means, it is relevant, and will be, forever. Life lessons are timeless.

The concept behind the book is exactly what the title says, letters of advice/guidance to the woman's younger self.

The letters themselves are heartfelt, soul baring, and insightful. I'm in awe that
Lisamarie Landreth
I'm thrilled to review this book simply because it means I managed to get through it. The concept for the book is visionary, a collection of letters written by women whom we admire passing down advice to the next generation. Unfortunately, the execution was poor. The book is composed of short biographies followed by shorter letters written by fourty-three authors. The letters lacked context and were too specific to the writers own journey with few exceptions. The exceptions were beautifully craf ...more
Dec 31, 2010 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Heard editor speak on January 12, 2014
Shelves: nonfiction
The premise of this book is wonderful: If you could send a letter to yourself through time, at what point in your life would you choose to send it? And what advice would you want to give yourself? I read most of this book right before bed, and it was a nice way to end the day. Editor Ellyn Spragins spends a page or so describing each woman and setting up the letter, then each of the famous women featured in this book shares her letter. Some letters are not even half a page; the longest is only 2 ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Liisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In all honestly, "What I Know Now" is worth more than three stars but I can’t quite muster enough adoration to award four stars and so it becomes another casualty of the lack of GoodReads half stars.

Admittingly I went into this book expecting saccharine, light-weight fluff and nonsense (and being so, why did I even buy it) but was rewarded with extraordinary ordinariness. There lies the real gem of this book – extraordinary women facing ordinary issues.

I found it extremely easy to dip in and out
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“Fall in love more often.Love the journey, not just the result-Camryn Manheim” 1 likes
“The rhythm of life runs in cycles. There are times in the darkness and times in the light. The energy of life is like the rain forest in Borneo. Things live, grow, die, fall to the forest floor, rot and then they are born again-Olympia Dukakis” 0 likes
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