From Library Journal
Part how-to, part historical account, literary scholar Schiwy's work validates women's need to keep a journal and, as such, their need to express emotions. "Journal writing is a way of paying close attention to our lives," she writes. From preteen diaries to unsent letters and invented dialogs, women record their lives, and Schiwy allows the voyeuristic pleasure of reading the results, from Anais Nin's deep introspection to a mother coping with life. For women who want to keep a journal but don't know how to start, Schiwy's appendixes are leaps into self-actualization. In the tradition of Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones (Shambhala, 1986), Schiwy gives writers the ever-needed boost of self-confidence: her goal is to encourage "women to take themselves and other women seriously in their own right." Read better in pieces, her work is a keeper. Recommended for public libraries.?Penny L. Piva, Univ. of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Why do women keep journals? Both diarists and women puzzled by an urge to begin journal writing will benefit from reading Schiwy's lively overview of an increasingly popular, often transforming habit. A diarist herself for nearly three decades and a journal workshop innovator, Schiwy considers every aspect of journal keeping, from how and why keeping a journal can make life more meaningful to various types of journals and writing styles. She offers advice about choosing blank books, keeping a journal private, and deciding when to reread old journals. Schiwy also delves into the history of women diarists and discusses the many reasons women keep diaries at different stages of life. Just the act of setting aside a block of time, however brief, to focus on and freely express thoughts and feelings is psychically healthy, but journals also "affirm the value of lives," preserve memories and dreams, and help women perceive emotional and physiological patterns in their lives, work out problems, and, frankly, record observations that are too sharp to share. Donna Seaman