In his New York Times bestselling memoir, A Work in Progress, Connor Franta shared his journey from small-town Midwestern boy to full-fledged Internet sensation. Exploring his past with humor and astounding insight, Connor reminded his fans of why they first fell in love with him on YouTube—and revealed to newcomers how he relates to his millions of dedicated followers.
Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he’s rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary-like look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.
Told through short essays, letters to his past and future selves, poetry, and original photography, Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.
I was quite excited going into this because the promise of short essays, original photography, and poetry combined into one sounded right up my alley.
You might recognise Connor Franta from his popular YouTube channel, and in this diary-like look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.
“Our words, our firsthand experiences, our shared truths can form ladders. And bring hope to others.”
However good the above might sound, in the end, it didn't live up. And I was disappointed to find Franta's writing style coming across as quite hollow and privileged. Also, his weird “I’m a special snowflake” complex rubbed me the wrong way multiple times:
“I’ve never been a big fan of attending awards shows. Most are pretentious, and few are truly entertaining. In theory, it sounds fun to witness the glamour and chaos of the red carpet firsthand. But the truth is that once you’re done up, looking fine, and immersed in such superficial gatherings . . . it’s not all that. The novelty soon wears thin. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.”
Then the genericness of Franta's thoughts and feelings didn't help his case either. There wasn't anything compelling enough for me to continue on where the writing's considered, so I did skim-read a lot towards the end. And another thing I want to point out: the atmosphere. It just felt so cold and standoffish with a lot of telling with little to no show. I mean: “This. Fucking. Sucks. I’ll repeat that until you believe it: This. Fucking. SUCKS.” Here's an idea: How about you show me why it fucking sucks instead of repeating it for emphasis…
To be frank, Note to Self felt a lot more fitting for the blog post format than something you’d expect to read in a book. Which leads me to the pretentious Tumblr-esque poems interspersed throughout:
There's a lot more where that came from... I'm genuinely rattled that this made it into the final version of the book.
However, to end this review on a much brighter note, I have to mention the vibrant photographs. Not going to lie, they were the only reason I continued on with this book. But I quickly noticed that - save for a few - the pictures weren’t as eye-catching as I'd hoped. (You can just go on Connor Franta's Instagram for the same effect.)
But still, here are a few of my favorite photos to brighten this ending a bit:
Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buyingNote to Self, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!
I decided to try Note to Self by Connor Franta because I had a free Audible credit and it sounded like something I would enjoy. I appreciate learning about other people and the struggles they've had in life and how they've endured them.
I went into this book fairly blind and didn't even know who Connor Franta was. My oldest son, who's a YouTuber did, and I can see this book being helpful to older teens and younger adults. It's so raw and insightful-I think it would've been helpful to have this book when I was in high school. There are so many emotions that we go through at this age and into young adulthood. Connor lays out his emotions and exposes his experiences in a way that helps you to understand that you're not alone in your thoughts. At times it felt like he was pulling some of his thoughts right out of my own head. How should we be thinking and how can we deal with these emotions in a non- damaging way to ourselves and others? Hmm, that may take me some more time to figure out...
Connor discusses some of the problems he's had including struggling with his sexuality, depression, social anxiety, loss of relationships and issues he's had with feeling accepted. When listening to him talk about his struggle with depression, I admire the way he describes his depression as being another person and to be sure to never believe the horrible thoughts that run through your mind. Be sure to wipe them away- I loved this because it's so true. It's something I feel anyone who struggles with depression and anxiety can benefit from-realizing that the emotions and feelings are part of you, but don't define you.
I also enjoyed the part where he discusses how we feel about ourselves. If you think you're confident you will be - self perception. How many times have you felt unconfident? I've had this happen numerous times in my life.
I did listen to this on audible and was thrilled that the audio-book is read by the author. I'm afraid I may have missed some visual content, but I do know that there are many positive statements in this book that can benefit those who struggle in life and for those figuring everything out. I feel that it can help instill bravery. In some ways the writing did feel like it could have been better and maybe didn't feel compelling enough, but I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone, especially older teens who are moving towards adulthood.
This IS my new favorite book! Connor writes about emotions, feeling and everything in between just beautifully! I related to every piece of writing, every poem and every single photo, they were just mesmerizing. I love how this feels like a memoir, a true story and at the same time like something real happening in front of my eyes as I'm reading it! Franta has truly become one of my all-time favorite authors for sure! Connor, wherever you are, you are amazing and just THE BEST!
And this one memoir is just that. I don't know who the author is but he has let me into his world so easily letting me into his world with words and photographs. (Oh, it started raining...dang, I have to make a cup of caffiene... actually the cup of cocoa/caffiene on the second page got me jealous!)
Continuing on, I just love how he writes. It is just not about the events and the people that happened in his life. I love how this memoir is focused on how he wished to learn some basic life lessons when he was a certain age growing up.
I just love the camera moments! I just love the subtleness in his writing.
I can relate well with the author because of the way he feels and thinks and is in constant touch with social media. This book depicts exactly the public life of a social media person(well, in this case I am one and so I know what he is writing about. And yes, I am one step ahead...cos I am addicted to Goodreads too. Does this count?)
Moving on, I didn't like the parts where he just thinks out aloud about something he didn't like. We all know life sucks. This book is basically about what sucked in his life(well, most of it I would say) but I guess he didn't need to say 'sucks' again and again ☺️ but it was funny and sad at the same time.
This book got me high when I got into 2/3rd part....the pictures and the poetry kissed my mind. (I am going to keep this book forever. To annoy someone who will stay with me in the future)
Loved this one⬇️
'in those moments
we are overcome with feeling
warmly embraced by fate
the soft kiss of no expectations
a greeting of peace
a message of hope
leaks from pore and palm
nothing can go wrong
everything is right
I wish I meet a person like him. I love how he talks about coffee.
This one is so me⬇️
'up at 5 a.m.
i can feel every eyelash, every itch, every breath that i take
i’m wide awake
thinking about you
and i don’t know how to stop'
I love the colour of his eyes. And those eyes with the reddest rose... I don't want to be high while reading a memoir💞
I can relate with the mental health issue. It is not running away, but sometimes we all need to do that in order to take care of ourselves.
I wish the therapy part was a bit elaborate. Because until now, from all the fiction and non-fiction books, all I can take is that it doesn't make much difference. I know therapy sessions are limited. Actually I got happy when it was mentioned again but if all therapy sessions are like that I don't think I will have the motivation to attend one. But so glad again that the author talked about it.
Yes, I wish for this too: 'I would love to live in a world that does not stigmatize mental illness or shame people for seeking help regarding their mental health.'
I wanted the book to finish up before I completely got lost in it....and actually love the guy in it. Damn me.
I love how he talks about the struggles he goes through everyday. The moments when he seemingly gives up and gives in. And ultimately accepting himself and everything for once and all everytime it happens.
I really want to meet this guy and have lots of coffee and talk lots of stuff.
'love is selfish and i am greedy'
I love you.... (Let this review be incomplete and haphazard....I am so in love with this book...or should I say the author?)
Instead of writing a review, I'm just going to display some of the more egregious lines:
- [addressing himself] "You're a soulful guy, and you have to trust your instinct to lead you forward the same way Waze navigates drivers around Los Angeles."
- [addressing himself again] "You're a bud covered in snow in the garden of your mind."
- [after acknowledging his editors] "Not only I, but the world, thanks you."
- "I'm the most millennial person I know. *chuckles to self*" [He has a habit of describing his actions in between asterisks at least once a chapter.]
- "This is the only time I'm going to tell you to put down my book (no matter how incredible you're finding this piece of literature) [...]"
- "It's moments like this that I feel proud of myself. Like, so damn proud." [Because he's content to wait in a long line without complaining about it.]
- "You see, before you know heartbreak, you must have someone break your heart." (no duh)
- "I fell in love hard. I fell as fast as the sun seems to set: slowly, then quickly, and then all at once." [This is a direct rip off of a line from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars: "As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once."]
- "I'm sorry, I can't write about this anymore. I need to be alone and just... cry." [???]
- [a poem] Title: broken. "i am broken up // after being // broken up with."
- "The other day, after a therapy session, I had a subtle epiphany while sitting in my car, staring out over the steering wheel, gazing into the cloudless, light blue sky. Me... Meeeee. ME. Think about me for a change, I thought."
Oh, Connor. This was... buddy, this was just not your finest work. I read A Work in Progress two years ago (or something like that), and adored how it was so authentically Connor. The tone, the wording, the pictures. It was like seeing a printed version of one of his videos. It was surprisingly touching and I got so much out of it. My copy is so sticky-noted, it isn’t even funny… so anyway, that was a sloppy segue me for to say: I adore Connor Franta (if you couldn’t already tell). His videos were not just the first videos on YouTube that I watched (although they literally were) but also the first I fell in love with. No matter what he does he always manages to make me smile and for that, I can never thank him enough.
… but Note to Self was unnecessary. I know a lot of people have problems with so-called “YouTube books” but I have always had the attitude that if they can write something worth reading than to go for it. Unfortunately, this was not worth writing. I hate having to say those words. It’s killing me to admit this but it’s true. I expected to get a lot out of this. It is meant to be a reflection on Connor’s experience with depression, anxiety and an awful breakup over the past two years (or so) and it was just… not that.
For one, the poems were cringey. I seriously hate having to write those words! When I saw his Frames video, I was so, so excited to read more of his poems. It was so beautiful but dear God, they poems were awful. I had to force myself to read them. I desperately wanted to skim them, they were that cringey. They were not poetry, they were recycled Tumblr quotes broken up or artfully arranged. They were not insightful, not touching or even enjoyable. I am so, so sad to say this but I think Connor’s thing is strictly photography. He is not a poet and it made the whole premise of this book fall apart…
The anecdotes in between the poetry were so… generic. I wanted to get an insight into Connor’s personal experiences with mental illness and the break up we have all heard about (and know really affected him) but everything he wrote so unoriginal, so unengaging. He even bastardised TFIOS at one point and I couldn't help myself literally, physically cringing. I was so uninspired by this and it makes me so, so sad to say that. I feel like this was something that Connor needed to write for himself, not for an audience.
The photography was jaw-droppingly on point as always, though, so there’s that…
i gave note to self 5/5 stars because every word felt so raw and real. the photos in this book are so aesthetically pleasing. i usually don’t gravitate towards non-fiction literature but this book was recommended to me by a friend and it was everything i needed. while reading note to self, it felt like this book was a friend that understands what goes through my head sometimes.
i understand that note to self might not be everyone’s cup of tea but i also feel like there is a certain mindset/feeling you have to have going into this book to really feel a connection to the words or maybe that’s just me. if the connection isn’t there, then i can see how some might find this book to be kind of annoying because of all the clichés, but i had that connection to the words and loved every single page of this book.
This really got 3 1/2 stars for me. I'm gonna talk about it in my video today, but basically I wanted a bit more from it then I got. Still, it is beautiful with the photography and poetry interspersed which is why... 4ish stars
"this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry, this is me spilled out on paper."
that line pretty much sums up this book. it's an open diary, and it's insanely dull . don't get me wrong, i like franta. i think his videos are good, but he is not a writer. it's simple: he cannot write. disagree with me all you like, that's my opinion. personally, i have no idea how this got published. oh, wait, i do! publishers will take any youtubers they can get to write a book because it means instant cash! even when the majority of them can't write.
franta is one of the better ones... i guess? some things he says are.. true? most of the poems aren't great, but the pictures are nice! very pretty!!!! stick to photography, youtubers!
this book is so fucking depressing. so depressing. there's, like, one happy chapter. it's such an open diary that almost everything is on the same subject. his breakup . ah! the breakup! the downfall of what could have been a good novel. had this breakup not happened, this book would have been much less depressing. every page is franta whining about his breakup and heartbreak, and it's so repetitive. i had to push myself to finish this. everything franta says is privileged and it's so annoying .
it's just not a good book. i really didn't enjoy it, and i'd only recommend it to diehard franta fans. i definitely won't read anymore of his work. but, hey, at least he got a new instagram follower! such hipster lovely photos!
Firstly, this was a beautiful collection. Inside you will find poetry, photography, essays, and letters. I had never read or heard of Connor Franta before this memoir and he’s basically a normal guy just trying to figure stuff out, like what exactly he wants in life - and I can relate to that.
"You're a bud covered in snow in the garden of your mind. Just wait for spring."
really enjoyed this! connor's writing is genuine, clever and witty, and as someone who is new to poetry i loved his poems. also, the visuals in the book are just GORGEOUS and lighten up the darker pages. an absolute recommendation!
Connor's last book was great, but this one blew away all my expectations. It was so honest, and he really spoke the truth! Although it was about his life experience, a lot of it definitely resonated with me.
"None of us are stuck with the hand we are dealt. We can shuffle the deck and deal the cards out again. No one can tell you who you should be. You need to be the person you want to be. You are, quite simply, who you want to be. Think it. Own it. Be it."
Even though some of the chapters offer a bit deeper and interesting insight, the author mainly stays on the surface and sticks to the cliches. Some chapters and poems show that the thinking and idea might be there, but it was not developed or articulated enough.
The writing style itself does not help; it is full of an inner monologue that sounds basic and superficial while mostly addressing the reader which makes it sound somewhat patronising.
Once again Connor blew me away with his writing. His books are so inspiring and so relatable. I also found his poetry to be beautifully written and full of raw emotion. This book was so aesthetically pleasing and just amazing. I am obsessed with Connor and his books!
I couldn't finish this book. The pictures were beautiful and the amalgam of styles and layouts intrigued me and made me really want to read it, but its positive attributes end there. I knew nothing of Connor Franta or his YouTube-following or his previous writing beforehand, so I came in without bias.
The writing has no depth. There are at least dozens of other poetry works by young authors finding themselves and moving forward after heartbreak and trauma with actual writing talent who were not published simply because they have a major social media presence that makes them highly marketable. Pick up a copy of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur if you're looking for a real trip into a young person's soul accompanied by illustrations, unless you're into the disappointment I described above: proceed with glee.
This is what I would call a swing and a miss; good intentions all around, but completely lacking in compelling writing. I'm really glad I borrowed it from the library so I don't need to worry about getting money back.
Mental health and the struggle with identity are important issues that need more people speaking about; and I do applaud Conor Franta for opening up about it. But glamourising them and jumping to the label of Depression so quickly and superficially is dangerous and does a disservice to those who are living with the condition and adds confusion to the conversation surrounding it, in my opinion.
I feel weird writing a review for this because it is basically his journal that has been published. A lot of these entries and poems were relatable, but not necessarily ground breaking. I enjoy this and managed to go through it in one sitting. I can see where some people may love this and others not so much. The photography was nice and I did find myself nodding to some of the entries and a few poems did catch my eye. But glad it wasn't overly long as it did become repetitive.
An incredible collection of essays, poems and photos that really resonated with me.
I had no idea who Connor Franta was before picking this up (I saw it in store and fell in love with the cover, HOW BEAUTIFUL IS IT?); I don't follow youtubers very closely but I am so glad I read this.
And it looks beautiful on my bedside table! Aesthetics, my friends.
it feels weird to comment on someone's feelings, emotions and the way they perceive themselves. i feel like Connor did try his best to be himself and authentic with his words, but some of the things he said were just so plain, and were not as deep as he probably thought they were. the big problem i had with this book was how surface level everything felt, it was, if not all, 98% generic thoughts that could have been said by anyone else, it didn't feel personal. i also think that everything sounded very cliché because he didn't share any of his experiences, he was very vague about his pain, his sadness, his happiness, to me it appeared as if he wanted to be our life coach, which wasn't what i was looking for. even if to him these were his life lessons on paper, to me, was like reading the last page of a book i know nothing about, i couldn't take anything from it. the photos were a blast tho
I really loved A Work in Progress so I was very excited to start Note to Self. I haven't seen Connor's videos so I'm not deeply invested in him which might be the reason I was so disappointed in Note to Self. Don't get me wrong, I loved the photography in this book. Connor clearly has an eye for aesthetics and he's work is really inspiring to me. But everything else in this book felt kind of boring and repetitive. I did like most of the poems but the essays just didn't do it for me. Maybe because A Work in Progress was so open and Note to Self didn't offer me anything new. I think people who are fans of Connor and love everything he creates will like this book much more than someone like me who just follows him on Instagram for his photography.
Connor Franta writes a note to his younger self as well as added photos and poems that correlate with the chapters. This book impacted me so much and hit home for me in so many ways. I was crying by page 5 and sobbing at 160. I'm not one to ever cry at books but this was the first one to make me ugly cry. This was a book I really needed to read and i'm so glad I did. So, thank you Connor THANK YOU for writing this.
I devoured this book I was reading from 4pm to 4am. I couldn't stop, most times I had to put it down but I was determined to finish it.