Tag Archives: What I Know Now

WWW Wednesday, 16-May-2018

16 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ll be finished with The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne pretty soon. I’m really enjoying this memoir and I’m realizing how long it’s been since I read a memoir. Hanagarne’s sense of humor is keeping me reading though he’s going through some very tough times in his life.
I’m not very far into The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver so it’s hard to really say how I’m feeling about it at the moment. I like it so far but I know this one will be on here for a while as I enjoy it slowly.
I haven’t had a ton of time to read The Sellout by Paul Beatty either. The prose is very poetic and I’m reading it slowly because of that. I think I’ll finish it in time for my book club meeting but it will probably be closer than I’d like to admit!
I’ve just started Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on audio. I think it’s the full book but with it being so short, I’m still a little unsure! I guess we’ll see when my book club meets again.

Recently finished: I finished Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Friday night. Overall, I enjoyed the book though there were some parts that rubbed me the wrong way or that didn’t flow logically for me. We met to discuss it on Monday but I wrote my review before the conversation could taint my opinions. The review will post tomorrow and my book club reflection will be up next week.

I’ve made a push for book reviews and I managed to post a few. Monday I posted my review of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. I gave the book 3 out of 5 Stars.
I also reviewed Ellyn Spragins’ What I Know Now. It’s a collection of letters that she helped famous women write. I gave it 3 out of 5 Stars as well.

Reading Next: I’ll need another audiobook for my car next. With all the driving I’m doing for school this semester, I’ll go through these rather quickly. I’ll be picking up Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club next. I’ve heard good things and I’m excited to enjoy this one while I drive to class.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: What I Know Now by Ellyn Spragins (3/5)

15 May

This book has been on my shelf for ages. Well, not ages, but five years. It was one of the earliest books I shelved on Goodreads and I think it came onto my radar because of the suggested reading feature, which I’ve stopped using to keep myself sane. It wasn’t one I ever found at used book sales so I eventually did an inter-library loan and read it. It was a nice, short read and I’m glad I read it but I think I built it up a bit in my mind.

Cover image via Goodreads

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins

Other books by XX reviewed on this blog:

Summary from Goodreads:

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 not to change so much to fit in, urging her young self, “It is time to be bold about who you really are.” Country music superstar Lee Ann Womack reflects on the stressed-out year spent recording her first album and encourages her younger self to enjoy the moment, not just the end result. “Your hair matters far, far less than you think,” is the wry advice that begins the letter bestselling mystery writer Lisa Scottoline pens to her twenty-year old self. And Maya Angelou, leaving home at seventeen with a newborn baby in her arms, assures herself she will succeed on her own, even if she does return home every now and then.

These remarkable women are joined by Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor of Jordan, Cokie Roberts, Naomi Wolf, Eileen Fisher, Jane Kaczmarek, Olympia Dukakis, Macy Gray, and many others. Their letters contain rare glimpses into the personal lives of extraordinary women and powerful wisdom that readers will treasure.

My first impression was that this book was physically smaller than I thought it would be. I figured that with so many women contributing to it, it would be a lot thicker. I realized that the letters were all quite short. If I were able to write a letter to my younger self, I’d go on for quite a while! Most of these women had about a page, maybe two. I was also a little disappointed by the breadth of the letters. It was clear that these were women Spragins had worked with as their careers seemed to focus on the entertainment industry. If they weren’t in that industry, then they were probably interviewed because of their experience. The women selected also seemed a little dated. The book was published 12 years ago and it showed because of the number of times I had never heard of the writer.

The women who shared their stories were very candid about their lives. Most of them talked about being afraid to make big changes and encouraging themselves to be brave. Many of them talked about their families, too, and spending time with children when they’re young. I was surprised at how many of them discussed staying at home with their children and stepping away from successful careers. I’ll talk more about this later.

One of the letters stuck out to me and that was from singer Macy Gray. She had a very rough time before her career took off and spoke very openly about her relationship with her family. She was trying to be a singer and take care of a child and live with her parents. It’s crazy to think that someone on hard times would continue to push forward in a career where success and even a paycheck aren’t guaranteed. I admired her guts but I probably would have been on her mother’s side and pushed her toward a steady job!

Many of these women were writing to themselves in their 20s, where I am now. I was surprised how little I related to the letters considering my age! I thought it would speak to me more now when I’m at the age they focused and where they made their mistakes. Instead, a lot of the letters focused on children, which I do not have, and big career moves, which I’m not ready to make. Maybe being 28 in 2018 is different than being 28 in the 70s and 80s when most of these women grew up. There were a few who were writing to themselves in the 90s and early 00s, but it wasn’t as many. It did feel a bit outdated which was a slight disappointment.

Ellyn Spragins
Image via Twitter

I got really excited when the letter was from someone I’d heard of, like Vanna White or Nora Roberts. These were women whose success has lasted over time and whose names were still recognizable twelve years after the book was published. White’s story stuck out a lot because she talked about some poor decisions she made early in her career and how they came back to haunt her on Wheel. She was one of the few women who warned their younger self to make a different decision and I thought that was really insightful.

A lot of the women in this book talked about taking time off from their careers to stay home and raise a family and that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. Now, I have nothing against stay at home moms, please don’t take it that way. My mom stayed home until I was 10. However, the letters made it sound like staying home with a family and then having extraordinary career success after was completely achievable. I think these women are the exception and I think doing so can be very difficult. I’ve seen many women take entry-level roles when returning to the workforce just to get in the door. This means they’re starting the corporate climb all over again which can be a huge disadvantage and is part of why we see such a wage gap between men and women. I felt like the women selected were too exceptional to give a realistic picture of taking time off and returning to the workforce. Most people have an amazing experience raising a family full time and some enjoy working full-time. It’s very rare to have both and this book was full of rare women.

Sometimes, in tough situations, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. These letters were a way for the light to scream, “You’ll get here and you’ll be fine, keep going!” to women struggling to find their way out of a tunnel. I liked that there was a lot of encouragement in these books and it made it easy to see that everyone struggles before they are successful.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book felt like a fun project Spragins wanted to try but not like a book she really put a lot of time into. The introductions were very generic and then focused heavily on the point in the writer’s life she was going to write about. Spragins helped each woman write her letter and I felt they were a bit too vague and short. I would have liked to see more. I also would have liked some more variety in the industries the women worked in. It felt like she asked her friends and then stopped.

There were some good messages in this book, it just fell a bit flat when it had the potential to shine. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
For My Mother’s Birthday: What I Know Now | noubelle
What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self (Pre-52) | Letters to Grandma

WWW Wednesday, 9-May-2018

9 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m enjoying Mister Monkey by Francine Prose and I think I’ll have it finished by next week. The audiobook is well done and I’ve started doing my long runs so I get through audiobooks on my phone fairly quickly. I like finding the connections between the plot lines and I’ve had fun guessing who the next narrator will be.
I’m not too far into The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne but it’s a joy so far. Hanagarne is able to make fun of himself and his childhood and at the same time convey how hard it is to live with Tourette’s. I’m enjoying the tone he picked for the book and I’m excited to keep reading.
My next ebook is The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I added it to my list after I enjoyed another Shriver book. I’m a bit too early in this one to tell how I feel about it and I’m not reading it quickly so expect this one to linger here for a while.
Over the weekend, I started a new physical book with The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I almost read this about a year ago but was going to miss the book club meeting so I decided not to read it and now I get a second chance! Again, early in, but so far soon good!

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up An Abundance of Katherines by John Green late last week. It’s not my favorite Green by any means, but it was still enjoyable. I’ll have a review up next week so I can go into some more detail on it.
I sped through What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. The letters were all really short so I’d binge-read five or so at a time and got through the book really fast. I’ll have a review for this one up next week, also. I’m catching up on reviews!

A few reviews as well! I posted about my feelings on Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs last Thursday. I love this author and I gave him a glowing review. He always makes me laugh. I gave him 5 out of 5 Stars.
I also wrote about The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro earlier this week. I’ve liked Ishiguro in the past, but this book was not for me. Please check out my review for more details, but still read Never Let Me Go! I gave the book 2 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: I’m trying to keep ahead of my book club picks so I can lazily pick up my own books. The next one I’ll grab will be Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m worried the audiobook I have is abridged because it’s only 2 hours and 30 minutes long! If you’ve read this before, does that seem right? It looks like the book is about 200 pages so I’m surprised it would be so short.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 2-May-2018

2 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still moving forward at a fair pace in An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It’s fun for me but I think it started off with some large stretches of the imagination so it’s hard for me to enjoy it even though the rest has been really great.
So many new books now! I did start Mister Monkey by Francine Prose like I’d hoped to. The preface threw me off a lot and I’m still deciding how I felt about the book. It’s a lot different from the premise and I think I’ll like it. I’ll have a much better idea next week.
I also got my copy of What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins through inter-library loan. It came in just as I was about to finish my previous book so it’s beyond perfect! It’s a bit shorter than I thought so I’m being hopeful that I can power through this one and keep scaling Mt. TBR!
I grabbed a copy of The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne on CD at the library. I got this book at an awesome bookstore in Cincinnati a few years ago and I’m excited to finally enjoy it!

Recently finished: So many to report! The end of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah had me crying while I was working out and it made push-ups a lot harder! I enjoyed the book a lot and posted my review of it yesterday. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
I finished Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs Friday. I flew through it and loved every minute. Jacobs is one of my favorite writers. I have only one of his books still to read and I want to get to it right away, but he doesn’t publish very often so I also want to pace myself. I’ll have a review up tomorrow and I’m excited to gush about this book.
I also finished The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had to pick my husband up late Friday night and I finished it waiting for him in the car. I think him being out of town for the week helped me finish so many books this week! I’ll post a review sometime next week.

Reading Next: Being at the beginning of so many, it seems a bit presumptuous to put anything here. However, my book club met on Monday and our next selection is The Sellout by Paul Beatty. My other book club read this when I thought I was going to be out of town so I missed it. I’m excited to get another chance at this book! I’m curious about a Man Booker winner from America!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-April-2018

25 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Lots of driving for work and the emergence of spring means that I’ve made significant progress on The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The book’s really good and I found myself moved near to tears at one point (no, I wasn’t chopping onions). I know the big question is if the older woman in the 1990s timeline is one of the sisters or not and I keep changing my guess. Please, no one tell me!
I’m getting there on The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s still slow for me. This part of the book has been jumping around in time and character and I’m not enjoying it at all. I often find myself confused about who’s talking and if it’s in the timeline or a flashback. I’ll be glad to finish this one.
I’ve made some fair progress on An Abundance of Katherines by John Green but not too much. It’s enjoyable still but not sucking me in yet. John Green tends to suck me in late so I’m waiting for it.
I was able to start Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs and I’m already over half way through it. I adore Jacobs’ writing voice and I’m also a big fan of all the health tips and tricks I’m picking up along the way! I bet this one is off this list by next week. Seriously.

Recently finished: I finally finished Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling! It was great to finish this one up after so long at it. There’s my Spanish book for the year. Phew. I posted my review of the book yesterday so please check that out when you get a minute. It’s not my traditional review, but I’m guessing if you wanted to read it, you probably have by now. Or at least saw the movie. Either way, you likely know the plot by now and I’m not going to say anything new original that you haven’t heard or thought before. It’s pretty much me gushing, I’ll be honest. Oh well.

Reading Next: I hope to finally start Mister Monkey by Francine Prose soon. I’m getting close to the end of Nightingale so it shouldn’t be far off. I still have no idea what this book is about, but I’m looking forward to finding out!
In my efforts to tackle Mt. TBR, I’ve requested an inter-library loan of the book currently sitting on the top, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. It’s a collection of letters and life advice from successful women in various fields. I think it will be a good pick-me-up as I struggle through finals and get ready to head into an accelerated summer class. At least I hope it is.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!