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Notes to Self: Essays

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  8,568 ratings  ·  760 reviews
`The person who loves the addict exhausts and renews their love on a daily basis' In this vivid and powerful collection of essays, the first non- fiction book published by Tramp Press, Emilie Pine boldly confronts the past to better understand herself, her relationships and her role in society. Tackling subjects like addiction, fertility, feminism and sexual violence, and ...more
Paperback, 183 pages
Published July 26th 2018 by Tramp Press (first published July 19th 2018)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  8,568 ratings  ·  760 reviews


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Robin
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I cannot understand why this book of essays is so highly acclaimed. Although Emilie Pine is a good writer, this book was an absolute chore to read.

I found myself repeatedly judging the author. I could not help judging her neglectful, selfish parents either. I wanted to feel compassion for all of them, but I simply felt annoyed. Was I really expected to feel sorry for Pine because she had to wear hand me downs rather than designer branded clothing as a child? First. World. Problems. I had little
...more
~The Bookish Redhead~
"I am afraid of being the disruptive woman. And of not being disruptive enough. I am afraid, but I'm doing it anyway."

I'd like to take Emilie Pine for coffee, and have a real, long chat about the taboos that are apparently best left unspoken in regards to women today. Personally, I embrace these kind of taboos, and I am a believer of breaking the mould. I like to tell people how immensely shitty I'm feeling due to my period, or, how nervous I get when I'm about to perform, or, how it aggravates
...more
Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

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When I was in college, one of my (male) instructors said something to the effect that premenstrual syndrome was a first-world construct and largely psychosomatic, and that women in "other" countries didn't have this problem. Setting aside that this statement is problematic for several reasons, I remember hearing this and being utterly flummoxed. It was the first time it occurred to me that not only could I be more knowledgeable about so
...more
Lotte
4.5/5. I might be doing the book an injustice by saying this, but reading this felt a bit like reading the author's diary — that is to say, a very well written, very nuanced and admirably self-aware diary. Reading this just felt very intimate.
In these essays, Emilie Pine takes a deep-dive into her own life, writing about the experiences and tragedies that have shaped her upbringing and her more recent years — her father's alcoholism, her struggle with infertility, her parent's separation (y'know
...more
Cdn Reader (Inactive)
“I am afraid of being the disruptive woman. And of not being disruptive enough.”

Emilie Pine, a lecturer at University College Dublin, has written a mostly engaging, honest, and occasionally brave book of personal essays about important experiences in her life. The collection opens with a very strong piece about her father’s 2013 alcoholic health crisis on the Greek Island of Corfu. (Given the state of Greek hospitals, this is not the place where you want to experience a medical emergency.)
...more
Niall O'neill
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have never read anything like this, so honest, so bare. It reaches into the deepest recesses of what it means to be human, the places we do not even let ourselves go, let alone others. It has made me think differently about the world, and that is the greatest thing we can find in writing.
Rachel
This is a competent essay collection and it's not difficult to see why it's gotten so much critical acclaim; it's topical, to the point, and easily digested.  Some of these essays really worked for me; the standouts being the opening essay, Notes on Intemperance where Pine discusses her father's alcoholism and illness, and Something About Me - more on this one in a second - but ultimately this essay collection just fell a bit flat for me.

My problem with Notes to Self was that I never felt like E
...more
Johann (jobis89)
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
An unflinchingly honest collection of essays from Emilie Pine, as she tries to confront the past in order to better understand herself, her relationships and her role in society.

I loved the range of topics covered by Pine within this collection - from the heartbreak of trying to deal with infertility issues, to growing up with a father who had an addiction. The essays are painfully raw at times, especially when she discusses her wild teenage years, during which she became the victim of sexual vi
...more
John Braine
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can't do justice to such a finely written book with my comparably basic grasp of English. I adore books like this; it's a raw, honest and insightful look inwards and outwards in the face of life's many knocks. And so beautifully written. Not beautiful as in beautifully crafted florid prose, but beautiful in the truth and feeling conveyed over the course of each essay, each one adding a layer to the previous ones. In some ways, this reminded me of one of my favourites books in the last decade; ...more
Hannah
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I was so very hyped for this book - on paper it sounds like everything I love in non-fiction (themes of feminism and bodily autonomy amongst other thing) and it came so very highly recommended that I was very sure I would love it. I did not love it. It's a perfectly fine book, interesting and important, but it also does not feel like it offers anything new. I found Pine's language straight-forward and bordering on boring, and her ideas not particularly groundbreaking. This feels like a mean way ...more
Christine (Queen of Books)
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an e-arc of this title for review.

This is the type of book I LOVE - We are Never Meeting in Real Life, Shrill, You'll Grow Out of It - I am so here for women writing about things we don't often hear discussed. I even shed a tear reading the author's note.

But then the essays...just fell flat for me. We've had some similar experiences, so it should have been easy for me to relate. It wasn't. I'd have DNFed this if I weren't hoping for something positive
...more
Rebecca
Originally released by Ireland’s Tramp Press in 2018, this was named the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2018 and has now been re-released by mainstream publishers. You expect the average collection to contain maybe 10 or 12 essays, so the fact that there are only six here accounts for why they all tend to drag at a certain point. While I think most of them could be made snappier, they remain bold, accessible feminist takes on the body and expectations for women’s lives. I especially liked “Notes ...more
Anna
[4.5*]

This is a wonderful and honest collection of essays, mainly on the various difficulties of being a woman but also how it is to be a child of an alcoholic and absent father. It is written in clear, easy to understand prose, so the impact of each essay is in what is being said, not how (this is in no way a bad thing). I would recommend this collection to any human being but I wish it were men in particular who would read this. There are a lot of things here that women share with each other b
...more
Sarah
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal. There wasn't a weak essay in this debut collection from Irish author Emilie Pine. The subject matter is incredibly personal - her parents' separation, her father's alcoholism, her miscarriage, her own relationship with her body, among others - and each essay is revelatory in some way. I found myself relating closely to some of her experiences, too, and found it refreshing to read another person's writing on things I didn't acknowledge I felt myself (until I saw it written down). I re ...more
Laura King
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely heart breaking. Unflinchingly honest and written so beautifully.
Angela
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really didn’t connect with this book at all. It read more like an adolescent diary than essays by an academic and I kept thinking - who commissioned this and why did they believe it worthy of publishing; and also - why has this won awards? Her experiences are not unique, similar stories have been told before and better, and she never seems to make the connection between previous self destructive behaviours (eating disorders, drug & alcohol abuse) and her subsequent fertility problems. Sad to s ...more
Aoife
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it was initially launched and adored it. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed with lockdown and needing a comfort read, I returned to it again today.
This book is intensely raw and vulnerable in a way so few others are, and while these stories are deeply personal to Pine they also reflect the hauntingly universal experience of many women, especially in Ireland.
Through the chaos and heartache this book provides comfort and assurance that life in Ireland has somewhat progressed and t
...more
Johanna Lundin
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
With such honesty, vulnerability, courage and strength Pine writes about her life. One of the most poignant and brilliant reads for me.
Shannen
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've taken a few of Dr Pine's classes, and she's been one of my favourite lecturers since I started college. She had a knack for making me really enjoy thinking about/discussing books that I didn't even like reading, so when I saw all the buzz about Notes to Self it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to read it, and I went with the expectation that I'd at least like it/be interested in it. I was only wrong insomuch as I completely loved it. A few times I had to stop in the middle of a pa ...more
Imi
This felt more like a memoir without a continuous structure than a true collection of essays. There are only 6 of them, and they're all focused on different periods in Pine's life, without leading to much discussion of a broader or external conclusions. It's more about her own life experience and fantastic if you read it as a personal memoir. Engaging, brutally honest, and full of detail and life. The first two essays were without a doubt the strongest ('Notes on Intemperance' on her father's he ...more
Emer O'Toole
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This cut me to the quick - so close to the bone. Close to the bone for many people, I would imagine - for those of us with addicted parents, fraught relationships with our bodies, untold stories of teenage vulnerability and exploitation, and complex struggles to find that non-place between success and contentment. The writing's electric. It's sharp and clean as it carves through unstable, messy material; it strives for resolution, order, but it also refuses these things. It's beautiful.
Fatma
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Pine writes well and writes honestly, but I can't say this book has stuck with me at all. It was good while I was reading it, but the moment I finished it I forgot about it.
Repix
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Regular.
Rowan Elkasas
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A simple word describes this book influencing . Emilie Pine is so brave.
A collection of essays talking about her life as a female who had a hard time dealing with problems growing up with separated mother and father dealing with depression . Seeing her friends after Emilie tries for years to fit in and having any friends, seeing them committing suicide by overdose of drugs .Her father being alcoholic . Emilie as a teenage girl dealt with rape twice . All this and she grew up to be independent wo
...more
G.J.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was recommended this book by a very enthusiastic younger family member and when I saw all the great reviews on GR I thought I had better read it. I have so many feelings about this book that I doubt I am eloquent enough to write a decent review about it. I am giving it 3 stars because the quality of the writing is indisputable. The contents however are another matter. Most reviewers say it is raw, brutally honest etc etc, I say it is relentless in it’s self indulgence. The author talks about g ...more
Alan Teder
Notes for Everyone

Devastatingly raw and life-affirming. It is tagged as Essays, but reads somewhat like a non-fiction novel / memoir as there is a definite flashback/flash-forward biographical progression to the author gradually revealing more & more of her past and then stating her mantra for the future. The concluding pages were some of the most uplifting and inspiring things that I've read this year.

This is not yet generally available in Canada (or likely North America) except as an eBook, b
...more
Kirsty
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Personal essays; I know, I know. But these ones are actually good. Not only are they beautifully written and observed, they're actually about something. Some essay collections feel like the writer thought 'need to write an essay, hmm, what can I write about...'; Emilie Pine seems to approach it from the other way. Each of these essays feel vital, like she had to write them. I loved this book and I can't wait to read more from Pine.
Louise
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely the best thing I have read in a very long time.....
El
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: Brian Leyden
An essay’s first line is important for setting the tone for the entire piece; it is most important for the first line of the first essay in a collection to hit harder than all the rest. Emilie Pine produced an incredible starting line for the first essay in her 2018 collection, Notes to Self: Essays: “By the time we find him, he has been lying in a small pool of his own shit for several hours” ("Notes on Intemperance," 3).

The essay, which is the story of the complex relationship between the auth
...more
rosamund
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Emilie Pine's essays are frank and vivid, and I was completely engaged by this book. I read it over the course of a day, which is rare for me. Though they are marketed as "essays", this book feels to me more like a slightly disjointed memoir: each section focuses on a different aspect of Pine's life, but doesn't talk about the subjects in a broader context. I would associate essays with a wider study of a subject, whereas Pine's essay are strictly personal. At times, this is excellent -- I was p ...more
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Emilie Pine is an Associate Professor in Modern Drama at the University College Dublin, and is the author of the No.1 bestseller Notes to Self (Tramp Press).

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Contemporary young adult literature has often led the way in depicting the real-life issues facing teens from all backgrounds. To delve into ho...
39 likes · 3 comments
“It is hard to love an addict. Not only practically difficult, in the picking up after them and the handling of those aspects of life they're not able for themselves, but metaphysically hard. It feels like bashing yourself against a wall, not just your head, but your whole self. It makes your heart hard. Caught between ultimatums (stop drinking) and radical acceptance (I love you no matter what) the person who loves the addict exhausts and renews their love on a daily basis.” 3 likes
“Famously, the trick to good writing is bleeding onto the page. I picture the male writer who coined this phrase, sitting at his typewriter, the blank sheet before him. What kind of blood did he imagine? Blood from a vein in his arm? Or a leg? Perhaps a head wound? Presumably it was not blood from a cervix. I have so much of this blood, this period blood, this pregnancy blood, this miscarriage blood, this not-pregnant-again blood, this perimenopausal blood. It just keeps coming and I just keep soaking it up. Stuffing bleached cotton into my vagina to stem the flow, padding my underwear, sticking on the night pads ‘with wings’, hoping not to leak on some man’s sheets, or rip off too much pubic hair with the extra-secure adhesive strips. Covering up with ‘period pants’, those unloved dingy underwear choices pulled out from the bank of the drawer every month. And all along, I was wrong. I should have been sitting down at my desk and spilling it across the page, a shocking red to fill the white.” 3 likes
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