Notes to Self
`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 where these subjects intersect with legislation, these beautifully written essays are at once fascinating and funny, intimate and searingly honest. Honest, raw, brave and new, Notes to Self breaks new ground in the field of personal essays.

Notes to Self Details

TitleNotes to Self
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 26th, 2018
PublisherTramp Press
ISBN-139781999700843
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Autobiography, Memoir, Feminism, European Literature, Irish Literature

Notes to Self Review

  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 sympathy when she complained about the slimy sandwiches she occasionally had to eat for school lunches. Pine’s idea of being “poor” is very different than mine. While it is understandable that Pine suffered mental health issues as a result of her upbringing, I questioned why she chose to regurgitate every shocking, painful experience of her youth, in what seemed like a raw journal entry, to the public. Her extreme attention seeking antics as a teenager are forgivable, but this book felt like another desperate attempt to be seen. I did not find the essays to be insightful, interesting or transformative. Other books touching on similar subject matter, such as Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, are thought provoking, whereas I found these essays tedious. Pine often came across as narcissistic to me. I did not find it surprising when she revealed in her final essay that she does not empathise with others. Strangely she wants the reader to care about her feelings, while admitting that she does not care about ours. I wanted to like Pine and root for her to overcome her difficulties, but she didn’t make it easy. At one point Pine goes so far as to criticise her colleagues at a female leadership course for choosing their mothers as role models. “No wonder you can’t get promoted, I thought, meanly, if your role model stayed at home.” Wow. I thought the goal of feminism is to lift women up and ensure that we have choices. Pine does, at least, recognise and name her own internalised sexism. The strongest essay in my opinion was about her father. Notes On Impermanence sets the tone for the entire book. She describes what many children of alcoholics experience as they navigate their conflicting feelings of love for a wounded parent as well as sadness, anger, confusion, loneliness, and rejection. Redemption stories are very powerful. It would have interested me if Pine had shared more about her process of developing self worth and transforming her life. Instead it read like a long rant. Maybe the process of writing was cathartic for Pine, but as a reader it left me feeling flat.
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  • Canadian
    January 1, 1970
    “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.) Ye “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.) Years of drinking had caused veins in Richard Pine’s lower esophagus to rupture suddenly (a not-uncommon consequence of serious liver disease); he required prompt treatment, which included blood transfusions. Emilie explains how, from her home in Dublin, she had to arrange for one of his friends in Corfu to badger a reluctant ambulance driver to get her dad to the hospital. (Why would anyone want to interrupt a lovely Sunday with the family to transport a likely goner, and a stranger to boot, to a medical facility?) Hours and several connecting flights later (Corfu is not easy to get to from Dublin during the off season), Emilie and her younger sister would find their father lying in his own waste on a hospital ward with neither a doctor nor a nurse in sight. They’d be forced to buy medical supplies—absorbent pads and disposable surgical gloves—and deliver much of their father’s care themselves. Pine uses this episode as a route into a deeper consideration of the mess of emotions—love, frustration, anxiety, helplessness, and rage—that plague the child of an addict. That essay alone is worth the price of admission. In the essays that follow, Pine takes on other painful life events and taboo topics: her infertility, miscarriage(s), and the medical community’s paternalistic withholding of important information about her own body from her; her beloved sister’s first, tragic pregnancy and labour; her parents’ separation and the stigma associated with it—divorce was only signed into law in Ireland in 1996; female blood—menstruation and its cessation; her turbulent adolescence, fuelled by loneliness, in which she repeatedly put herself in harm’s way; and, finally, her experiences in the workplace.Although the subject matter is sometimes dark (particularly “Something about Me”, my least favourite piece, which concerns her chaotic teen-age years) Pine does not wallow in self-pity or misery. Her perspective is clear-eyed, and her prose is generally clean and unpretentious. I found some essays—the earlier ones—stronger than others, and I wish she had concluded her book with thoughts that sounded a little less like a pop psychology pep talk. Having said all this, from what I saw here, I hope we’ll be hearing more from Emilie Pine.
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  • Niall O'neill
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • John Braine
    January 1, 1970
    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; 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; H is for Hawk. I think Notes To Self was extra special for me because I could relate to quite a lot of the touchpoints; I came out the other end of the rave scene in quite a fragile state and spent most of my early twenties struggling with serious mental health issues and then over a very slow period of growth, I miraculously found myself with a Master's degree, a career and a family a decade later, then I ended up looking after a parent with many health issues and family conflict, while we went through the heartache of multiple miscarriages and infertility. So quite a lot of this touched a nerve and was expressed with such stunning craft that I just wanted to open my window upstairs, like some broken adult version of the Never Ending Story and point at Notes to Self shouting THIS! THIS! This is what it's all about.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    [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 [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 but very rarely share with men, out of shame, fear and the desire to shield men from the second-hand pain which women are experiencing first-hand, because we have been brought up to care more about men's feelings than our own.The only reason I am not giving this collection a full five-star rating has more to do with me than with the essays themselves. I was fortunate enough to study for my Master's degree in Sweden. The degree itself was not in gender studies but in international development and global politics, yet the focus on gender was rather prominent. And I can tell you that in Sweden they talk about gender much more than where I come from (and probably where you come from, unless you come from the Nordics). And since they talk about gender a lot, the conversation has evolved to the stage where many subjects that are still taboo in other countries are now part of the mainstream conversation. Moreover, my closest friends at the university were much more versed in the issues of gender, which led to conversations I had not even imagined before and for which I will be eternally grateful. I have since read, thought of and discussed many of the topics that Emilie Pine tackles in this collection, which is why it does not have as much of an impact on me as it would have had even five years ago, which, in itself, is a good thing. Yet for people who do not spend a significant portion of their life contemplating gender issues I believe this collection can make a real difference.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 on Intemperance,” the first essay, about her alcoholic father’s health crisis and the vanishingly small chance of him getting adequate treatment on Corfu, where he lived. She had to beg his nurses to wear gloves. When she learned that staff had to buy such disposables out of their own small salaries, she understood – but was still appalled. Just being there was a miracle given that there was no love lost between father and daughter. “It is hard to love an addict,” she writes. “Not only practically difficult, in the picking up after them and the handling of those aspects of life they’re not able [to] 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. … It took years of refusing him empathy before I realised that the only person I was hurting was myself.”Other essays are on infertility and her sister’s loss of an infant, the early breakdown of their parents’ marriage (they never divorced, though: divorce was illegal in Ireland until 1997; after that they just didn’t bother), menstruation and body hair, her wild teen years and being raped, and the constant struggle as a working woman to be ambitious yet vulnerable without coming across as bitchy or oversensitive. The writing style is not flashy, but it doesn’t need to be. This is relatable straight talk, like you might get if you were to sit down with your girlfriends of various backgrounds and experiences and actually discuss things that matter.
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  • Laura King
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely heart breaking. Unflinchingly honest and written so beautifully.
  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    (Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an e-arc in exchange for honest 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 pos (Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an e-arc in exchange for honest 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 to be able to include in my review. Ultimately, the positive is the subject matter: alcoholism, infertility and miscarriage, divorce, menstruation, trauma, burnout. It's the execution that just didn't work for me.I think the issue isn't quite Pine's writing style, but that I've heard these themes before. For example, "I have a period and I'm going to talk about it" isn't just a sentiment expressed by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer - Abbi with "first-day flow" and no tampons is the main plot for an entire episode of Broad City. So for this essay to resonate with me, I needed it to offer another perspective, or talk about it in really beautiful and/or powerful prose, or take it further. I didn't feel like it did.Moreover, I was angered by Pine's suggestion that the loss of one's period might equate to one ceasing to be a woman. This struck me as overly simplistic at best, and transphobic at worst. I can understand if menstruation is central to her identity, and menopause is altering that identity without her asking for it - but maybe also take a broader view of gender in your reflection. She also got sarcastic with regard to women perhaps shaving/waxing pubic hair for themselves - implying that they could only be doing so for others. It's like Pine has this deep self-judgment (which she explicitly notes, with regard to not shaving) but instead of that self-recrimination resulting in greater acceptance of others and whatever they choose to do with their bodies, she judges their motivations.These opinions are based on one essay, which I think demonstrates how meandering the essays are - first period, squeamish about talking about blood, blood is dirty, periods can be painful, period blood is taboo during sex, not wanting to get pregnant but then wanting to and seeing period blood as a curse, periods are too female to discuss, menopause, menstruation as central to gender identity, looking at her body, labiaplasty, self-appraisal, body hair, pubic hair, femininity, giving up one's voice, delaying a breast biopsy, feeling that women are supposed to feel pain and supposed to keep silent about it, talking about bodily pain as a child, arguing we should once again talk about our bodies as physical evidence of what we've done, looking at ourselves fully, and what her body would say. That's all packed into one essay. Rather than feel like she covers the gamut, it feels like most of these topics are given short shrift, and aren't truly investigated or explored. I respect Pine for confronting painful events in her past and putting them on the page, and I'd try her writing again. But I wouldn't recommend this particular essay collection.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 really can't recommend this highly enough.Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Books UK for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Johanna
    January 1, 1970
    With such honesty, vulnerability, courage and strength Pine writes about her life. One of the most poignant and brilliant reads for me.
  • Shannen
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 page and take a breath, because the experiences were so like some that I've had, and other times I had to do the same thing because the experiences were totally different to mine but the simple truth of how they're written made me really understand what it was like. It was interesting that in one of the essays Dr Pine reflected on the concept of empathy, and her low capacity for it (both for others and herself), because this collection is one of the most empathy-inducing reading experiences I've ever had.I adore this collection violently, because I don't know how to do it any other way. Since my first year of college I've counted Emilie Pine among my "real life" role models, a woman I look up to. Now, after reading her essays, I can't help but look up to her more, but in the way you look up to someone you're proud of for getting through their toughest spots, not an idol. I know that in theory every book is an exercise in exposing yourself, and that it takes bravery to put that out there, but Notes to Self is exceptionally vulnerable, exceptionally beautiful; exceptional. She bled on that page, and even though I'm younger, and differ in identity and experience in a lot of ways, I felt like I fly a flag of the same colour. A red that's vibrant and authentic and hard to look at directly.It's stunning.
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  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    Notes for EveryoneDevastatingly 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 Notes for EveryoneDevastatingly 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, but I was lucky enough to snag a print copy via a subscription to Shakespeare and Company's Year of Reading 2018, a blind-faith subscription where you don't know ahead of time what they will send you. I wasn't disappointed by a single book all year.
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  • Emer O'Toole
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Melissa Stacy
    January 1, 1970
    I won a Goodreads ARC Giveaway for this memoir/collection of personal essays by debut author Emilie Pine. Titled "Notes to Self" on my ARC paperback copy, the back cover states that the expected publication date for this book is June 2019.On a prose level, this book is very good. Ms. Pine is a fine writer. "Notes to Self" is also a very short book. While the content is often very sad, this is a pretty quick read. Here is a list of the essays in this book, and their general content:*****1. "Notes I won a Goodreads ARC Giveaway for this memoir/collection of personal essays by debut author Emilie Pine. Titled "Notes to Self" on my ARC paperback copy, the back cover states that the expected publication date for this book is June 2019.On a prose level, this book is very good. Ms. Pine is a fine writer. "Notes to Self" is also a very short book. While the content is often very sad, this is a pretty quick read. Here is a list of the essays in this book, and their general content:*****1. "Notes on Intemperance" focuses on Ms. Pine's alcoholic-turned-sober father and her complicated love for him. My own father was an extreme alcoholic who died after years of being homeless, living on a riverbank just outside Cincinnati, so I expected that this essay would really resonate with me. Instead, the first essay read the flattest to me. I know that part of the blandness in this essay for me was the fact that Ms. Pine had access to so many resources, family, and friends to lessen "the burden" of her father's struggles upon her own life, including a friend of her father's who helped him tremendously, even inspiring him to get sober. Ms. Pine read as being very, very fortunate to me, but her tone was one of victimization throughout the bulk of the essay. I also lost my father young while Ms. Pine's father is still alive and well. I would be so incredibly grateful if my father were still alive. I understand the complicated love for addicts, and I appreciate Ms. Pine's struggles. This particular essay just didn't have the intended effect for me at all. I kept thinking, "I wish my life had been this easy," when her tone was one of, "Oh my god, look how bad I have it." People with lives that more closely resemble Ms. Pine's middle-class upbringing will probably enjoy this essay a lot more than I did. 2. "From the Baby Years" discusses Ms. Pine's struggles with infertility, her miscarriage, and her sister's experiences with childbirth. I was moved to tears as I read about Ms. Pine's sister's experiences. It was the only place in the book that moved me. 3. "Speaking/Not Speaking" deals with Ms. Pine's youth. Her parents separated in 1982, when Ms. Pine was five, but divorce wasn't legal in Ireland until 1997, when Ms. Pine was twenty. I had no idea that divorce was illegal in Ireland for so long!! That shocked me to realize I was so clueless. But the essay isn't about the underpinnings of conservatism in Ireland at all; it is about Ms. Pine's inability to talk about divorce until it was finally legalized. 4. "Notes on Bleeding and Other Crimes" focuses on Ms. Pine b*tching about menstrual blood and cramps, as well as shaving her armpits and conforming to all of the appearance commands that women are given, and then realizing that menopause means the possibility of "losing" her womanhood: "I fear that the end of my period is the end of being a woman" (page 97). This is also the first essay in which Ms. Pine admits that she developed a severe eating disorder at age ten, when she began starving herself. She continued to starve herself until the age of twenty or so, when she was in college, and then she continued to inflict/suffer from bouts of starvation on and off over the years. Her self-imposed starvation sounds a lot like anorexia to me, though Ms. Pine never uses the terms "anorexia" or "eating disorder" anywhere in the book. 5. "Something About Me" was my favorite essay. It details Ms. Pine's rebellious youth as a self-starving adolescent who became the life of any and all parties, staying out all night at clubs in London, drinking and drugging to extremely self-destructive and suicidal levels. Ms. Pine started drinking and drugging at a young age. She states that she lost her virginity at age thirteen. She had a number of sexual partners. Two of her partners raped her, and one man was her boyfriend at the time. This is a long essay, and it had direct bearing upon essay #2, but the author never ties the two essays together. I'll discuss this more below, but for now, I'll just say that the book really took a serious dive in enjoyment-level for me when I realized how much insight and depth these essays truly lacked as a whole. 6. "This Is Not on the Exam" sketches out some highlights and low-lights from Ms. Pine's successful career as an academic. The book jacket states that she is "Associate Professor of Modern Drama at University of Dublin College Dublin, Ireland." I'm not sure what kind of work that entails, and the final essay didn't provide any details outside of a few anecdotes about the author talking to students. Ms. Pine focuses on being overworked, the stresses of the university outsourcing its funding by telling academics to bring in their own money with grant projects, and then the burnout she suffered when she performed all of this extra unpaid work with very successful financial results that came with a horrible emotional toll.*****I would recommend this book to any reader who is new to the idea of women struggling to talk about divorce, having periods, suffering cramps, infertility, miscarriage, developing an eating disorder at a young age, self-destructive partying, and having alcoholic parents.Personally, none of this material was new to me, and if you are already familiar with any of the above topics, I would recommend these powerhouse reads instead:"The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolfanything written by bell hooks"Pornland" by Gail Dines"Woman: An Intimate Geography" by Natalie AngierMs. Pine does acknowledge in "Notes to Self" that she is "a white, Western, middleclass, heterosexual, cis-gender woman" (page 101). She never leaves that limited perspective; this book is solely focused on Ms. Pine and her own experiences. While I can completely respect that choice, Ms. Pine often adopts a tone as if she is speaking for "all women." As a reader, I was constantly reminded that this book was very limited and did not speak for "all women," and I only differ from the author in class, regarding her own list of traits. The author's limitations are why I closed this book feeling like the only things I learned were the date divorce was legalized in Ireland and how absolutely, and tragically, clueless these essays often felt to read. Again, I must state that I wasn't the intended reader for this book. I think the intended reader is obviously someone whose own experiences better mirror the author's: middle-class white women who have led financially successful careers. Here are some realizations I had that are never addressed in these essays: 1. I can tell that Ms. Pine was *very* externally motivated throughout her whole life. Her external motivations were strong enough to starve herself for "skinny" praise as a child, become a gregarious party girl in adolescence, do well at college, and be very successful in her chosen career. As a highly externally-motivated person, Ms. Pine has made a very strong initial effort at finally examining her unplumbed interior. These essays read as a good, strong initial start at Ms. Pine trying to understand herself. Unfortunately for my enjoyment level, I don't think she's read any of the books I listed above. Because this book of memoir-essays is far, far too limited for me to ever believe Ms. Pine is familiar with Naomi Wolf, bell hooks, Gail Dines, or Natalie Angier.2. Ms. Pine has obviously never researched the effects of starvation in adolescent girls. Her severe starvation began at age ten and continued until she was twenty or so, with bouts of anorexia (or her self-imposed starvation) throughout her twenties. I know that starvation has immediate and long-lasting impacts on fertility, especially on the fertility of young girls and young women. In essay #2, Ms. Pine laments her infertility at age 37, 38, and 39, when she started trying to have a child and found that she couldn't: "For all the research and testing -- mine and the medical profession's -- I still don't know what went 'wrong' with my body. Why is that?" (page 67). I don't think that Ms. Pine has ever learned that a woman's highest fertility levels are during her teenage years, the years Ms. Pine spent depriving herself of the nutrients her body needed to be fertile. Overall, women's fertility decreases slightly between the ages of 20-28, taking a sharp nosedive at age 28, and declining at a faster rate until the age of 35, when fertility levels suddenly plummet. That is only for women who have not yet had a child, however. Pregnancy changes things quite a bit. Whatever age a woman gives birth to her first child, her fertility will basically remain at that level until menopause. Teenage mothers have the highest fertility levels up until menopause. Women who have their first child in their early twenties are a close second.This isn't to say that older women cannot be fertile, or safely give birth past the age of 35. I'm saying that Ms. Pine admits that she wanted to know what was 'wrong' with her body at age 37 that stopped her from having a baby, after nothing was revealed to be physically wrong with her reproductive organs, and yet she never reflected upon the negative impact and lasting trauma her starvation inflicted upon her fertility, starting from the ages of 10-20 and then into her 20s. There are some traumas the body can readily recover from. Other traumas have lasting and permanent damage. I know this from studying the biological effects of poverty: poverty does permanent physical damage to a child's body. Starvation and malnutrition in children are highly detrimental to growth and long-term adult health. I'm not blaming Ms. Pine for her eating disorder or any of the problems in her life. I am stating that one of her essays *answered* the question she herself asked: "What went 'wrong' with my body?" -- i.e. why was I so infertile in my thirties when my reproductive organs were all sound? -- and yet she never, ever reflects on the impact her many years of starvation had on her own fertility.3. Ms. Pine is a very good writer, and I'm glad she has finally given herself permission to talk about her shame, her hardships, and her traumas in life. I wish her all the best on her journey. She shares many good messages about trying to accept herself as she is. I hope she does some research about ageism soon, because she seems especially uninformed about that. Her extreme dread of aging feels very sad to me. I also hope she reads "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolf. If I were her friend, I would press that book into her hands immediately. She would understand that she fell victim to that myth in a big, big way. She could forgive herself even more, I think, if she took the time to read that book.Overall rating: 3 stars. Glennon Doyle (formerly Glennon Doyle Melton) wrote the blurb on the front of my ARC copy. Personally, I think Glennon Doyle's memoir, "Love Warrior," was a far better book than this collection of memoir-essays. "Notes to Self" is definitely a book where a reader's mileage will vary, depending upon how familiar they are with the book's content and themes, and how closely their own background mirrors the author's. **Thank you to Random House Marketing for providing me with a free ARC paperback copy of this book.
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    Emilie Pine has decided to exorcise her demons by writing about them, not an unusual path for a writer, a scholar, a professor. The result is a very mixed bag which although is from her own experience, in some cases comes across as generic. It opens with the strongest piece, one concerning the efforts of her and her sister in getting treatment for their father who has collapsed in Corfu due to repercussions resulting from his lifelong alcoholism. The Emilie in this chapter overcomes revulsion, s Emilie Pine has decided to exorcise her demons by writing about them, not an unusual path for a writer, a scholar, a professor. The result is a very mixed bag which although is from her own experience, in some cases comes across as generic. It opens with the strongest piece, one concerning the efforts of her and her sister in getting treatment for their father who has collapsed in Corfu due to repercussions resulting from his lifelong alcoholism. The Emilie in this chapter overcomes revulsion, shows unrelenting love for a parent who barely deserves it, and comes across as put together and level headed. Contrast this with the five years she spent wilding as a teen, a life it is hard to believe she survived let alone turned her into the woman in the earlier episode. The other sections I could take or leave, hence not a sterling recommendation.
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  • Basic B's Guide
    January 1, 1970
    Note to Self @dialpress. Available June 11th.Note to self: Do not attempt to read and relax in a pool with children around.Another solid essay collection recommendation coming at ya’ll. This debut shares a collection of events that left a mark on Pine’s life. As evident in the synopsis this is filled with triggers. If you read the synopsis you should be able to determine if you can handle this short but impactful read. I most definitely had a good cry during the infertility chapter. As always wi Note to Self @dialpress. Available June 11th.Note to self: Do not attempt to read and relax in a pool with children around.Another solid essay collection recommendation coming at ya’ll. This debut shares a collection of events that left a mark on Pine’s life. As evident in the synopsis this is filled with triggers. If you read the synopsis you should be able to determine if you can handle this short but impactful read. I most definitely had a good cry during the infertility chapter. As always with essays, some resonated with me more than others but it was so clear how sharing her stories was therapeutic and healing for her. Writing can be such a powerful tool in our healing process. I know it is for me. I started this account with the thought of sharing more about me and as most of you know I share it all. Like the author I worry about coming across negative but these are my truths, just as Emilie’s truths are told in the book. Life is hard. Healing is hard. We are all a work in progress.“I wrote these essays to reclaim those parts of me that for so long I so thoroughly denied. I wrote them because it was the most powerful thing, I could think of to do.”3.75 stars rounded up.
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  • rosamund
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 particularly moved by the chapter "The Baby Years" where she writes about infertility -- but sometimes it made the chapters feels a little narrow, or lacking in depth. For example, the opening chapter, about her father's alcoholism, is completely gripping, but feels a little hollow. Pine touches on a variety of subjects -- the influence of alcohol on her father's life, the health system at his home in Corfu, the struggles to get treatment for liver disease in Ireland -- but I wanted her to write about these things in more depth and more reflectively. Similarly, her chapter about emotions and feminism seemed to me to have a very narrow worldview: it really only described the experience of a professional, straight woman, successful in her field. This would be fine if she had set it up to be simply about her own experience, but she seems to be trying to speak in a broader way, and it shows the limits of her empathy. All that being said, I find this book engaging and surprising: it's an arresting memoir, full of energy and detail, and it's good to see taboo subjects treated so frankly. I do recommend it: the quality of her prose alone floors me.
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  • Molly Ferguson
    January 1, 1970
    This was a Christmas gift and I tore through it, careening through these intense and engulfing essays and feeling more and more that every woman I know should read this. The first, devastating, essay about Pine's father's alcoholism, was searing and raw and hard to read. The second, a long journey through her infertility struggles, offered me more insight on this condition than I have ever had. She keeps plunging ahead, including an essay about her "wild child" teen years and sexual violence, an This was a Christmas gift and I tore through it, careening through these intense and engulfing essays and feeling more and more that every woman I know should read this. The first, devastating, essay about Pine's father's alcoholism, was searing and raw and hard to read. The second, a long journey through her infertility struggles, offered me more insight on this condition than I have ever had. She keeps plunging ahead, including an essay about her "wild child" teen years and sexual violence, and a final essay about being a woman in the academy that every academic I know should read. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know, and thrusting it in the hands of my creative nonfiction friends.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely the best thing I have read in a very long time.....
  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Karina
    January 1, 1970
    Both deeply personal and coolly self-aware, these essays talk about all the things we keep silent.Utterly brilliant and compelling.
  • David Wineberg
    January 1, 1970
    In Notes to Self, Emilie Pine is brutally honest. With herself. She spills it all in a festival of catharsis, self-criticism and unvarnished clarity. It is an annotated stream of consciousness of her life. The book is a very short collection of essays: of her relationship to her alcoholic father, her inability to conceive, and her wild-child adolescence. Her criticism of the injustice, the unfairness and the fickleness of life goes on way too long. The stories are very intense. At numerous point In Notes to Self, Emilie Pine is brutally honest. With herself. She spills it all in a festival of catharsis, self-criticism and unvarnished clarity. It is an annotated stream of consciousness of her life. The book is a very short collection of essays: of her relationship to her alcoholic father, her inability to conceive, and her wild-child adolescence. Her criticism of the injustice, the unfairness and the fickleness of life goes on way too long. The stories are very intense. At numerous points, readers might want to scream “Get a grip!”Like a Jules Feiffer cartoon, Pine goes through all the angles of doubt, both self and about everyone and everything else. She rationalizes, worries and wallows. She is defensive about her lack of empathy, just recently discovered. It is all about her, and always has been.Pine is well accustomed to being published. She is an academic, caught up in the world of publish or perish. But this is different for her. She had long made detailed notes, but just stuffed them in a drawer. Her partner encouraged her to expand on them, and a publisher gave her a book deal if she would write them up completely. It has been a great success in her native Ireland and the UK.And yet, reading it, it is so intensely personal, it is almost embarrassing. For her, her father, her sister, her mother…. It takes a very strong personality to pull this off as well as Pine has. She is forceful, and ultimately, it has served her well.The stories are of pain. The book begins with the pain of the child becoming the parent to the alcoholic, abusive father. The second is the pain of miscarriage and the inability to conceive. The third is the pain of divorce in Ireland, and how Pine’s parents, totally estranged, never did. There are the twin pains of menstruation and menopause. Every little thing in life is pain.The chapter on her teen years is the most revealing, appalling, and difficult, both for Pine and the reader. As a child of estranged parents, she exerted her independence and defiance, becoming lonely, lost and bitter. And in her words, worthless. She gave up her virginity at 13, spent her nights at bars and clubs by 15, did all but the hardest drugs, ate extremely badly when she ate at all, and left school and ran away from home, only to sleep in the streets. She played the slut for drinks, drugs, and free access. She was raped twice and rationalized it away, only remembering them as such 20 years later. Her self-loathing is still evident as a 40 year old, as she refuses to have a full length mirror in the house. Today, she has pressured herself into overwork to the point where she no longer even likes the things she loves to do. Her life is pain-based.That she made it into a university and is now a tenured professor and academic author is little shy of a miracle. Her life is one big issue, and this book is her dealing with it. It is a fascinating and horrifying confession of misperceptions, selfishness and lack of guidance or discipline.Reading Notes to Self is voyeurism of a higher order.David Wineberg
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  • Christine Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    Essays on a life peeled back to its raw, painful, quirky core. The honesty in the writing is beautiful, heart-breaking and powerful all at once. And if this makes it sound like a difficult read let me tell you I couldn't put it down, except to shed a few tears or laugh out loud. There is much to identify with in these pages and much, also, to learn. Pine speaks to the cultural silence that keeps the bloody mess of women's lives unexplored. She does this bravely by exploring her own bloody messes Essays on a life peeled back to its raw, painful, quirky core. The honesty in the writing is beautiful, heart-breaking and powerful all at once. And if this makes it sound like a difficult read let me tell you I couldn't put it down, except to shed a few tears or laugh out loud. There is much to identify with in these pages and much, also, to learn. Pine speaks to the cultural silence that keeps the bloody mess of women's lives unexplored. She does this bravely by exploring her own bloody messes. Her life-excerpts are gripping and often hilarious. The non-relationship of her mother and her alcoholic father has some really funny moments and it was hard not to smile in recognition at the unsuccessful attempts at keeping her period from going public. Her father's near-death alcoholism, her own miscarriage and the loss of her sister's baby, along with an extended 'wild child' period in London, all make for riveting reading. At the heart of it all, though, is a brave woman. Speaking the silences.
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  • Julie Gahan
    January 1, 1970
    A fantastic book to read. Honest and open and very relatable to your own life and experiences as a woman in the world. "I am afraid of being the disruptive woman. And of not being disruptive enough" sums it up really! Couldn't put the book down. Very well written and intriguing. I would highly recommend it.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    The Bleeding essay was great, and for the most part, Pine is someone who I'd want to talk to and have the kind of conversation where you can find some calm in talking about shared experiences. However, the style just felt quite flat in comparison to other similar published essays out there.
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  • Veronica Brogan
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book, some essays more than others. I really admire Emilie for opening her heart and sharing her experiences so honestly. I admire her courage. This book connected with me and I expect will connect with everyone in some way....
  • Tineke
    January 1, 1970
    Really, really excellent
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    Astounding collection. Full review at The Skinny: http://www.theskinny.co.uk/books/book...
  • Callum McAllister
    January 1, 1970
    Holy crap that was an emotional read
  • Karan
    January 1, 1970
    I love the design of this this book of essays, the cover, the spaciousness. One of the picks from Shakespeare and Co. - thanks Alan. My interest in the essays was uneven - I would have ranked the first one (Notes on Intemperance, her father's illness) a 4 or 5, but the third one (Notes on Bleeding and Other Crimes) a 2. My scores may be more a reflection in my interest or ability to identify with the stories, but I couldn't shake the feeling with some (From the Baby Years, Something About Me) th I love the design of this this book of essays, the cover, the spaciousness. One of the picks from Shakespeare and Co. - thanks Alan. My interest in the essays was uneven - I would have ranked the first one (Notes on Intemperance, her father's illness) a 4 or 5, but the third one (Notes on Bleeding and Other Crimes) a 2. My scores may be more a reflection in my interest or ability to identify with the stories, but I couldn't shake the feeling with some (From the Baby Years, Something About Me) that though on the face of it, these were very personal, intimate stories, the author was skating over the telling. Understandable. I wonder if there's more to come from Emilie.
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