Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” as Want to Read:
What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  2,033 ratings  ·  265 reviews
If you could send a letter back through time to your younger self, what would the letter say?

In this moving collection, forty-one famous women write letters to the women they once were, filled with advice and insights they wish they had had when they were younger.

Today show correspondent Ann Curry writes to herself as a rookie reporter in her first job, telling herself no
Hardcover, 183 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Harmony (first published 2006)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What I Know Now, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What I Know Now

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,033 ratings  ·  265 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Oct 04, 2007 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Chaitanya Sethi
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, feel-good, sweet
"What I Know Now" is a collection of letters from prominent women, addressed to their younger selves at different stages of their lives. The letters cover, among other things, topics like - professional success, imposter syndrome, motherhood, personal tragedies and failures, dating advice, financial advice et al.

While the concept in itself was intriguing, I found the letters somewhat lacking. All the letters are very short. Barely a page and a half. Thus, despite the intention, they come across
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such an interesting idea to write a letter to our younger self. I think almost every letter I read had a nugget of wisdom that caused reflection. A few of my favorites were: 1)You only know what you know of life at any given point. 2)Protest against the rising tide of conformity. 3)try more things, cross more lines, you should be cooking on all four burners. 4)The universe is like a pension plan, it will match your investment. 5)Sometimes nothing is better than just anything. And many more....
Bil Halim
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
No new insight, no profound effects but i learnt that small things to us might mean a world to somebody else. :)
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice idea, but the execution didn’t resonate much with me. I wasn’t familiar with a lot of these authors and I didn’t find their letters to be particularly compelling in any special way.
Crystal Velasquez
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
May 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My lovely friend, Cathy, and I went to see her and were lucky enough to buy signed copies of both of her books. Three brave women wrote and read letters to themselves. Wonderful, reassuring, hopeful reading.
My word! Thank you ladies for the wisdom, words, experience and lives you have shared.
Feb 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
A little sappy and overly sentimental at times, but for the most part it was a sweet and endearing book. Great concept.
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Easy read. Nightime or morning quick read. Short individual stories from each woman.
Loved it
Mar 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
One of the worst books I've bothered to read to the end. I found it boring and self-indulgent. Of the women chosen for this book, there was hardly a one one could relate to.
Melanie Emerson
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this quick read. Picked it up at a used book store 13 years after it’s original publication. For me reading about strong influential women that I remember clearly from my 30’s was interesting for me. I enjoyed the short bios before each letter. The letters varied in their content and some were filled with regret, but most were encouraging reminding that brighter times were ahead. The concept of writing to ourselves can be a valuable learning tool to finding our motivations and attuning ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up this book once and the took six months to get back to it. Once I did it was a quick read.

The letters were interesting, but I can see how some readers said they were a bit template-y because they were all just over a page or so long. I think the most genuine writing doesn’t really have a page limit and can be profound whether 1/2 a page or 20 pages long.

Some of the letters rang very true for me and some of them felt like “Monday-morning quarterback,” and somewhat incomplete.

I took
Jafreen Alamgir
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was amazing in describing how extraordinary people around the world wished they could say to themselves during the crucial moments of many phases of their lives. However, I think the author wanted her best to focus on the moments when their mothers died since she is trying to compare all of their experiences to her experiences. That's when I felt the book started to be too biased on the personal level or emotional side,rather than being motivational and inspiring.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I like the idea of the book more than the application.
However there was something off to me about the tone of a lot of the letters. The writers were generally giving their past selves advice, which felt very strange as they have no power over the past so it felt lecture-y and almost judgmental. It think I would have preferable if the writers tried it focus on how their past shaped them (made them better/strong/etc.) Esther then rather then basically telling off their younger self!
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved the concept for this book, but not the execution. Well-known women are asked to write a letter to their younger selves with advice from their more mature vantage point. Madeline Albright's was first, alphabetically, and I thought it was the best. After that, the letters seemed so self-serving, excusing their bad decisions/conduct early in life because in the end, their lives turned out OK. It didn't seem like wisdom, just excuses. In the end, I was disappointed.
Amanda D.
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first began reading this book I wasn’t crazy about it because I felt that I wanted to know a little more about the person writing the letter to their younger self and just exactly what they were going through. As I continued reading though, I was able to find letters that I felt spoke specifically to me or that I could understand and relate to.
Melissa Shaughnessy
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
The first 50 pages really hit home. Maybe they hit home because I’m close to a milestone birthday or maybe because I would have A LOT to say to my younger self.

I appreciate the message in each story however it did seem repetitious toward the middle/end. I wish the stories had been a little more diverse.

All in all these are extraordinary woman and I appreciate their wisdom.
Betsy Reuteman
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting concept, but the letters and blurbs about the authors were so short you didn't really gain much insight from them. By the second half of the book the messages started to sound the same or were a long blurb of humblebrags.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I wanted to read this as I'm going through a hard time in my life. It was very nice to read what women say to themselves during trying times. It's an easy read. I liked it. I'll probably pick it up again from time to time and read a random letter to find encouragement.
Sarah Ah
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most letters were very moving, however, a couple really lacked substance.
It made me realize that all those women have a backstory and what we see on the media is only at the surface level. Success was not handed to these women, they had to go get it. Overall, it was very inspirational.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • What Did I Do Wrong?: When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship Is Over
  • Bitches on a Budget: Sage Advice for Surviving Tough Times in Style
  • Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent
  • 20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman's Guide to Balance and Direction
  • A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life
  • It's a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths about Life in Your Twenties
  • Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work Is Done
  • Magnified World
  • Daughters of the North
  • 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She's 30
  • An Unfinished Marriage
  • Bryson City Seasons: More Tales of a Doctor’s Practice in the Smoky Mountains
  • Shiksa Goddess
  • The House by the Sea
  • F*ck! I'm in My Twenties
  • My Little Red Book
  • How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything: A Workbook
  • A Rare Titanic Family: How the Caldwells Survived the Sinking and Traveled the World
See similar books…
“Fall in love more often.Love the journey, not just the result-Camryn Manheim” 2 likes
“You´re going to have to learn how to pat yourself on the back eventually. Start now. It´s not gloating.It´s taking pleasure in life´s goodness” 2 likes
More quotes…