Amy's Reviews > Notes to Myself: My Struggle to Become a Person

Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather
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's review
Jan 19, 2011

really liked it

If you like a good quote, you'll love this little book.

At once a memoir and a self-help book, author Hugh Prather gives us his memorable and meaningful ponderings on how to live life fully and truly - as a relational and reflective human being.

This book was published in 1970, and as one of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul"-generation, I never would have come across this little gem on my own. I read the title in a magazine article and bought it on a whim. As a rather reflective and cranial (ie, "in my head") person myself, I found the author's musings somehow both intense and comforting. Little phrases such as "My trouble is I analyze life instead of live it" kept replaying in my head (ironically). It helped me to picture the book's origin: Prather did not intend to write a book; these were his journal entries, written over a period of a few years, as he struggled to become a published poet. Imagining this 30-something, working adult, full of simulateous optimism and real-life growing pains, trying to find his purpose in a seemingly random world, gave me, as a reader, something to personalize. And in the memoir genre, it seems one must connect somehow with the narrator's life to appreciate the author's intent.

This book, with its lack of plot and characters, may not be for every memoir reader. And its lack of explicit step-by-step direction may deter some self-help book seekers. However, I found Prather's constant questioning; posed adages; his "how I see the world" insights, to be helpful. We don't have to read Prather as a life-guru; we can see him as a fellow evolving human being.

After reading "Notes to Myself," I'd like to read other Prather titles, as he continued to publish similar books over several decades until his death in 2010. This book had such a concise quality - expressing much in just a few words. As a quote person myself, such an approach is more impactful than a full narrative memoir or self-help book.


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