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An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia
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An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  997 ratings  ·  101 reviews
A true story of falling in love and overcoming anorexia. At the age of 32, after ten years of hiding from the truth, Emma Woolf finally decided it was time to face the biggest challenge of her life. Addicted to hunger, exercise and control, she was juggling a full-blown eating disorder with a successful career, functioning on an apple a day. Having met the man of her dream ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Summersdale (first published May 4th 2012)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  997 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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Start your review of An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia
Short version: Just don’t read this book. Especially if you’re in recovery and actually trying to get better, or even a former sufferer who thinks you’re ok now. Just run far far away from this book. It’s not only super-triggering, it’s also pretty damn annoying and overall a big waste of your time.

Longer version:

I loathed this book. I have never hated a book this much before.


1. It was disorganized, rambling, and incoherent. I couldn’t derive an actual story line from reading it. Each cha
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
3.0 Stars
This memoir shows the mindset of a woman stuck in the cycle of semi recovery from an eating disorder. The story read a bit like a stream of consciousness or a blog post and could have benefited from more editing. It was sad that author was still stuck in a place of restriction and avoidance at the end of the memoir. It's honest, but sad.
This book felt awfully judgmental - about suicide, depression, and even medication. She calls suicide selfish, which makes it sound as if suicide was a rational decision instead of a desperate attempt to end misery. She's decided to go with a "normal" way of getting her hormones back in balance instead of electing for medication, all the while saying that she understand medication is life saving, but she's going with a "normal" way. By the middle of the book, I decided I would just read to the e ...more
Emily Crow
Jul 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is a "real time" account (apparently adapted from her weekly column with a British newspaper) of the author's struggle to overcome her eating disorder and become healthy enough to have a baby. I wish her well, but I really didn't like this book. I think she wrote it too soon, and with insufficient editing; it's more like an extended blog post (complete with lots of reader comments sprinkled throughout the text) than a real memoir.

Specifically, why I didn't like it:

1. It is very disjointed a
I really enjoyed this book, Emma makes herself very vulnerable by opening up like this to the world and it gave me an insight to what having anorexia must be like, this wouldn't of been an easy book to write then publish to the world.
I thought the chapter on heart break with her first real love (which doesn't come for quite some time, this book is quite slow to start of with) was very moving, partially when she wrote "i left the airport feeling like i carried my heart in my palms in chunks" i re
Megan Stokell
Mar 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Being a teenage girl in recovery from an eating disorder, I naturally see the topic of this book as interesting. However, whilst Emma Woolf's writing style isn't bad as such, I just found myself disappointed by some of the messages that I perceived to be underlying the story.
I found her description of her illness to be described in excessive detail- as much as I am aware (God knows I'm aware) of the awful life that accompanies anorexia, I personally found that the way in which it was conveyed,
Mar 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Almost unreadable. I listened to the audio book, which might not have helped. This is a needlessly long book about an incredibly privileged young woman who goes to Oxford University, takes endless luxury holidays around the world and tortures everyone around her instead of counting her blessings. I started this book full of interest and sympathy but after about two hours of listening to Emma's woes it had evaporated.

"Why would I write about it in a national newspaper?" Yes, good question.
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
While the writing itself is very good I found it to be self-indulgent and oddly judgemental towards mental illness. It's hard to take a writer seriously when she denies being rich/privileged when she attended private schools, Oxford and had a successful career in publishing, all while being related to Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

Helen To
Having read quite a few books that examine anorexia Emma Woolf's An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia offers a different perspective on the illness to the chronicles I have read which track the victim's journey into the deep grip the illness can have on those affected. I did not know that Woolf had previously written about her experiences with anorexia for her column in The Times newspaper but nonetheless An Apple A Day is a valuable addition to books which raise awareness ...more
Sheena Carroll
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is the 107th book I read this year. It is also by far the worst. (Spoilers and a trigger warning for triggering ED stuff):

1. This book is written by Virginia Woolf's grand-niece, a relation Emma is fond of mentioning but probably shouldn't as writing ability does not appear to be genetic. Her memoir is disorganized, poorly edited, extremely repetitive, and seems to struggle to settle on a main point. The poor writing is honestly indicative of the writing/thought organization issues I've dea
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book, because I think it is brave to tackle something so personal (and yet that affects so many other people) in the public eye. However, frankly, I think she would have done better to compile all of her newspaper column articles between two covers--assuming of course that they weren't written like this: in an overly repetitive, often redundant, severely removed, unemotional, contradictory, and scattered. Oh, and did I mention repetitive. Definitely repetitive. Repetitive t ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
I thought this book gave a different perspective on anorexia from other anorexia memoirs I have read. The author saw herself as having a very difficult mental illness, not a desire to look like a fashion model. I did wonder why she wouldn't continue to take an anti-depressant--just because she didn't like Prozac, there are other anti-depressants that are very effective. Natural treatments don't always mean better or more effective. It seems to fit with her obsession with "purity." One review men ...more
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I cried all the way through this book, its totally honest and very well written.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Emma Woolf is 32 when she decides to tackle her anorexia head on, and try to start eating again. With the help of her boyfriend, her goal is to gain enough weight to be able to conceive.

On her journey we get to join her from eating only an apple and low fat yoghurt a day to being brave, and tasting chocolate after a ten year break and eating carbs.

I admire her bravery for allowing others to read about her battles as she does look at all the reasons that may have caused her eating disorders and
Jen Haken
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
As the mother of an anorexic, I found this book incredibly helpful. Emma Woolf's honesty about food, her 'voice', her fear and feelings of unworthiness echoe my own daughter's in many, but by no means all, ways. The fact that she 'managed' anorexia for so many years without going into hospital is amazing. Sadly my daughter had no choice but to be an in-patient on quite a few occasions now, but I hope that this book inspires her through her recovery as it has me.

Reading about Emma's journey fills
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I found 'An Apple a Day' perplexing. It was repetitive, contradictory, judgemental and clumsy, yet I could not put it down.

Despite her background in publishing, I thought it was very sloppily edited. Though perhaps her darting back and forth and insistence on repetition was deliberate, to illustrate her scattered mind. I'm not sure.

Her insistence on being 'normal' and not privileged was quite grating, particularly when she feels the need to highlight her relation to Virginia Woolf. And her Oxbr
Marie Carlino
May 18, 2014 rated it liked it
This book presented a different perspective on anorexia. It was written by a sufferer who developed the disease after adolescence but was never hospitalised for the condition. I like that the book clearly declared the author's motivation to overcome the disease. I hope that she was successful in becoming pregnant.

The standout message from the book is the difference in overcoming this addiction. "It is not about stopping a behaviour, it is about starting one." She uses the experience of giving u
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. A very open and thoughtful account of Emma's own recovery journey, this book also places the issue of eating disorders firmly in the public arena, and challenges the myth that anorexia is about vanity, or a diet gone wrong. It doesn't follow the typical format of a mental health recovery memoir, and Emma is honest about the ups and downs of recovery and the way in which personality traits can predispose a person to issues with food. Great read (probably one of the best) for anyone who ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
I knew it would be a bad idea to read this book, but I did it anyway. I almost gave it two stars, but then I remembered when she referred to the plot lines of The Wire as "incomprehensible" and I removed one. She writes that anorexia is not about being thin and attractive, which I believe, but then many of her descriptions seem to suggest that that really is what it was about for her. I wish her all the best, but not an amazing read.
Yeah, it was okay. I felt like I was reading her blog, and not the best-written blog in the world, but it was okay. I liked it well enough.
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a hard book to read at times due to how close to home it hits.
I absolutely believe that the concept of 'functional anorexia' is one that needs to be more widely spread.
Sarah Knox
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This has been the piece of evidence that God has used in my life to gently lead me to an acknowledgment of the sin/shame that easily beset. It was an excellent read! I found in Emma a kindred spirit.
If you are interested in the innerworkings of the soul of mental illness sufferers, read this book!
Kayla DeVault
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book should have a trigger warning label on the cover, and a more detailed explanation of why in the first few pages. That's my first comment.

In regards to its content, I see the other reviews have some harsh language and resentment towards the use of specific numbers, language, etc. as well as its stream-of-consciousness kind of flow. As for its organization, I think that makes sense. To think that a book about eating disorders is going to have any form of organization is kind of a joke to
Lucy ❁♡ ★
Emma Woolf's memoir was an interesting read, to say the least.

I went into this expecting greatness. I’m familiar with Emma's work and her story so I was extremely exciting to get a more in-depth look into her anorexia but I came out with very mixed opinions.

Firstly, if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder of any kind, I urge you to stay away from this book. Woolf repeatedly mentions her lowest weight, calories, anorexic behaviours and more triggering content which I know impact
May 01, 2020 added it
Shelves: anorexia, nutrition, uk, memoir
Yes, I did just read another book about anorexia. Why? Because it was there.

I got mildly into a British reality series Superfats vs Superskinnies (or something) which Woolf was also doing a bit on anorexia during that season? The concept is pairing undereaters with overeaters and forcing them to eat each other's meals in order to confront them with their dysfunctions - very "can't look/can't look away" For her part Woolf talked to range of types of anorexics to show it's not just waify teenage
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book, especially because the first chapter was well-done. The book is a day-to-day diary (blog), and she perhaps succeeds in the writing as best as she could given that it's a narrative of what she's going through right now. But as other reviewers have mentioned, it was often pejorative and extremely judgmental--both toward the author but also toward anyone whose experiences she hasn't shared. I also found it to be tangential and tiresome at parts. Sometimes there's ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I really like memoirs and this one looked interesting to me. This book is about a girl, Em, who has been anorexic for about ten years. It started when she was about nineteen years old. She is trying fight this disease so she and her long time boyfriend, Tom, can try to have a baby. I thought that this book was very interesting. Anorexia has had a effect on my life and it is interesting to read about it through someone else eyes. I would recommend this book to anyone who ...more
Kate McIntyre
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
'An apple a day' follows the real life journey of Emma Woolf, a woman suffering from an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa and the struggles to reach recovery. One of her main motivating forces is to conceive a baby and create a family with her partner Tom. The book is accurate in the description of the illness, giving the reader a view into the life of an individual who suffers from the illness. At times i could relate to the thoughts and struggles that Emma faced throughout her attempts ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I read this book after battling with anorexia since July 2013. I've recovered well and it is now in a manageable condition, what Emma calls 'functional anorexia' I found it helpful to know that I was not alone. The extreme hunger and other challenges Emma faced are real and scary for almost all anorexics and her honesty about these topics was helpful.

However, this book should be read with caution. Emma is still extremely ill whilst writing this book and it may be triggering for some readers. I w
Emily Good
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the honesty and vulnerability of the author.
Speaking from experience, it is common to not be "Fully Recovered."
For that reason, I feel especially drawn to this book.
If you need reassurance that your inner critic is not a sign that you are going crazy, that other people have this incessant voice telling them to Be More (Destructive, that is), I recommend this book.
This memoir was a catharsis for me.
On the other hand, if you are reading this to understand what a loved one is going thr
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