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Oh, I think you will really enjoy Anne Morrow Lindbergh's diaries. She was a marvelous writer.

Pepys is rather dry sometimes, but he was right in the middle of history


I like your choices -- although I do think Nin is a most unreliable narrator of her own life. Mansfield was an exceptionally interesting woman and writer.


I'm in two minds about Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey. It seems like something I would love but there's some mention that the introduction is 160 pages long and the entire book only 288. That doesn't seem to be much space actually dedicated to the diaries. Perhaps I'll see if my library has it rather than buying it.

I too feel *very* sorry for people who don't read...


When I saw your earlier posts about diarists (is that a word?) I didn't comment because I thought I hadn't read many diaries. But looking at your list: I have! Franz Kafka, Anne Frank, Anais Nin and Pepys (though I'm not sure if I finished that one). I've got Lindbergh's on my shelf and really want to read that one next. I enjoyed her Gift of the Sea, it was so lovely.


Makes me think of - someone has been posting Pepys's diary entries daily since 2003. It's a blog/you can subscribe by RSS, or you can get the entries via email. I was keeping up with it for a while but decided eventually that I wanted to experience Pepys in book form instead - not that I've actually gotten around to reading his diaries yet. Now I'm kind of tempted to start following the blog again.


Such an interesting list to start with - and for me to refer to. I'd love to read Lindbergh's diary. Gifts from the Sea sits on my shelf where I often find it and I've given it to so many friends as a gift.


Sherry--I started buying AML's diaries way back when I was working in the bookstore. Never got around to reading them, of course, but I was happy to find I have the first one. I can't wait to read it. Will wait on Pepys, but I think it would be fun to read. I came across an abridged book by him that is part of Penguin's food series that I am tempted to buy--maybe a good place to start.

AJ--I'm not surprised to hear you say that about Nin. I think the diaries were her work, from the sounds of it, and can imagine her embellishing them. I'm still very curious about her since her diaries are so famous and wouldn't mind getting back to that first one. After I read Mansfield's Journal I was all prepared to read everything I could find by and about her--hasn't happened, but I do have a few more of her books on hand and have enjoyed some of her short stories. Another author to return to!

Cath--It's been years since I read the Schlissel book--I really need to go find my copy. It sounds like excerpts/samples, too. I suppose the intro could be really interesting, but that does seem awfully long unless there is lots of history there. Books are such a pleasure, I feel bad that people don't realize it.

Jeane--I think I've read more diaries than I think, too, but they have been so spread out. Maybe it is not so good to read lots of them at once, but I am very intrigued by them at the moment. I just brought home Gift from the Sea this week, so hope to read it soon. And I am not sure I am using the work correctly--I think it is diarist--for someone who keeps a diary?

Heather--What a cool idea. Imagine if you had started reading it from the beginning and read each entry daily. That's one way of getting through his extensive diaries! Not sure when I will read the book, though I think I'd enjoy an (abridged perhaps) book, too.

Penny--I think those must be some of the most recognizable names in terms of diarists. They certainly appeal to me most, anyway. I've always been interested in Anne Morrow Lindbergh, so I hope to start reading her first diary soon. And I need to read Gifts from the Sea, too!


Very interesting list, I have a few and have read a few but I am not familiar with all of them.
Katherine Mansfield's diary is one I liked. Etty Hillesum and May Sarton are two I wanted to read. The thing with diaries is that they tend to take a long time to read. At least I take a long time because I want to read them carefully.


Caroline--They really can take a lot of time--especially the ones where there are multiple volumes. I think that is why I gave up so quickly on Anais Nin--I knew I couldn't devote the time to it that I would need. Will try Anne Morrow Lindbergh and see how it goes. It is not a long book, and this book Revelations is easy reading since the excerpts are fairly short. I have heard Etty Hillesum's diary is very moving.


I've had Elizabeth Drinker's diary on my wishlist for ages now - I'm fascinated by the possibility of entering an 18th century woman's mind.

As for Virginia Woolf, I'd recommend starting with some of her later diaries. I know its tempting to begin at the beginning, but The Passionate Apprentice is very different to her later writing. She was only 13 when she started those diaries and they're more an exercise in self definition than self-interrogation. Also, the interesting friends and characters only really appear after the death of VW's father in 1904.


I am a very slow reader of diaries. Dip in, dip out, rather than 'read'. I would put a word in for _To War with Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-1945_ (1994), if you like strong, stubborn women and wartime (which I think you do!). She was a founder of Book Aid International.


Oh, there I was thinking I never read diaries, but I did read some of Anais Nin's and they were amazing. Jaw-dropping stuff (having just had her abortion in hospital, being visited by her current four lovers, all of whom felt they might be the father, none of whom knew for sure; Nin just sitting up in bed powdering her face) although you have to take it with a pinch of salt, probably. As ever you put together an excellent list with something for every reader to drool over!


It is an interesting list. Many of these are new to me, but I've dipped in and out of Pepys, who is fascinating. I love the way he juxtaposes details of his own feelings and life alongside accounts of the great events of his day. I've read some of Virginia Woolf's diaries, and found her much more humorous than I expected.

Liz F

I have both Few Eggs and No Oranges and Katherine Mansfield's Journal but have only really dipped into them so far and the Etty Hillesum book is on my Persephone wishlist as it would be interesting to read an adult counterpoint to The Diary of Anne Frank.
The Anne Morrow Lindbergh diaries sound fascinating as does the Lilian Schlissel book - I have an abiding interest in the lives of women pioneers and how they coped with conditions and experiences that would leave most 21st century people whimpering in a corner!
I've just finished Enid Bagnold's Diary Without Dates and found it an eye opener as to how the hospitals operated and patients were treated during WW1. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in that period.

Joan Kyler

I found Nin to be fairly dull, but maybe I didn't read far enough, or maybe I was expecting her to be much racier. Pepys was less than I expected, too. I think it's hard to sustain interest when you're dealing with such a long time period.

My current favorite diarist is Nella Last. She was such an interesting woman, chronicling the details of her life for the Mass Observation project in England during WWII. There are three volumes and I suggest reading them in order, although I didn't. I felt I knew her by the end and felt sad when I finished.


I didn't know Kafka had a diary! Not sure why I am surprised that he does, but how exciting! I will definitely have to investigate. I've read the May Sarton diary. It's pretty good, but then I like almost everything I've read of Sarton's.


A great Thursday Thirteen on a Friday Thirteen! New names as well as well as some more familiar. I am looking forward
to reading your thoughts in the coming months. I will look for Frances Partridge.


The Diaries of Sylvia Townsend Warner might be another to consider adding to your list. I am just about to dip into it. :)


Victoria--I thought the Drinker diary was a real find when I first came across it. I'm also fascinated by what life was like in general in the 18th century but particularly for a woman. She lived in such tumultuous times historically and would have made quite an eyewitness to so many changes. Thanks for the heads up on Virginia Woolf's diaries--I always like to start at the beginning, but it sounds like that may not be the most accessible place to start. Maybe that is why that diary is off on its own rather than the first in the set.

Blibliolathas--I also tend to dip into diaries--well at least I am with this collection--rather than read one straight through. I like sampling just a few of the writers and then setting it down for a while, otherwise it feels like overload. I have added To War with Whitaker to my wishlist. It does sound like something I would like, so thanks for the suggestion.

Litlove--She had quite a life, didn't she? Or at least quite an imagination! I'll get to Nin eventually. There is such a huge selection of diaries out there--I didn't realize I would find so many of interest to me!

ChrisCross53--Virginia Woolf really is very intimidating, isn't she? I have only read a few of her novels and short stories/essays, but I also did read Mrs Woolf and the Servants, which was really interesting and a different view of her. Pepys would be fun to get a taste of the period--I have his abridged diary on my wishlist, though I am sure I can find him in the library.

Liz--I think Etty Hillesum is considered the adult Anne Frank in terms of diaries and the war. I have a different edition of the book--not the lovely Persephone. I also can get No Eggs from my library but it is such a hefty book I've held off doing so. I'll bring it home one of these days. I love reading about women's lives throughout history, but agree I would have been a complete wimp--I like imagining a life before, but am happy to be living now! :) Serendipity! I have the Enid Bagnold book at home right now--I requested it via ILL when someone (perhaps it was you?) mentioned it. It is such a slight book I keep waiting to read it as I think I can read it in one sitting--just need the afternoon to do so!

Joan Kyler--I haven't read anything by Nin except bits of her diaries--not enough to get a true sense of her writing. She certainly has a reputation! Pepys seems overwhelming, which is why he will remain on my list for the time being. I think I will need to be in the right mood for him. I would definitely like to read Nella Last's diaries--my library has two of them-didn't realize there was a third. I'm glad to hear they are very engaging--something to look forward to.

Stefanie--Interesting to get into the mind of Kafka, don't you think? I wonder if it is better to read some of his stories/novels first or just jump into the diary (I only have one--maybe that is all there was?). It has been so long since I have read anything by/about him, I think I would need a refresher course. I liked the one novel by Sarton the Slaves read. I should just give in and buy that journal--I want to visit Maine someday, so that seems a perfect book to read.

Catharina--You're right--it is the 13th! I should have retitled my post! Good timing in any case. I broke down and ordered the first of Frances Partridge's diaries--I love that period so it sounded very appealing to me. I have loads to choose from now--both on my list and literally at home in a pile!

Michelle--I saw them listed on Amazon when I was browsing but there was no description or reader's reviews, so I wasn't sure what they would be like. Do tell me what you think--I'll add it to my wishlist--I think it was even a Virago Modern Classic!

Kathy Johnson

I love diaries and journals and am going to try very hard NOT to put your entire list on my own TBR list! (Actually, I've read Anne Frank, House By the Sea and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's and at least one of Nin's already.) I may have to add one or two to my list for this year, though... I love reading other people's private thoughts, though I know they've been edited for publication. Still so fascinating!


Kathy--It really is interesting reading diaries. I read one last year without thinking about it being a diary, but it was a wonderful way to read about history, since it was about WWII. I do hope to read a few diaries this year along with this collection I started. I'm planning on reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh next!

Liz F

Wasn't me that initially mentioned the Enid Bagnold Diary Without Dates but I'm glad that they did as it certainly gives a vivid picture of the attitudes of the day!
Delighted to find that the library has two volumes of Anne Morrow Lindhberg's diaries so I have requested them - so much for my plan to read from my TBR pile this year!

Liz F

Rats! Please ignore my mis-spelling of Lindbergh - that will teach me to not read comments properly before I post them!


Liz--I should really note who gives me reading suggestions. I always think I can easily go back to the post and see the comments, but I am usually too lazy to go dig for them. I haven't started reading yet as it is such a slender book and I think I could read it in just one or two sittings, so I'll get to it soon. I'll be reading the first of AML's diaries as soon as I finish that little collection, which I am moving through rather slowly. It doesn't seem the sort of book to consume in one gulp, so I read a couple diarists each sitting. (an no worries about spelling--my brain goes much faster than my fingers most of the time and I can't keep up! :))


Danielle--You might want to also put the Lindbergh's daughter, Reeve Lindbergh, on your list of memoirs. Not too long ago I read her book Forward from Here: Leaving Middle Age and Other Unexpected Adventures. It was interesting in so very many ways, primarily because she talks about meeting her German half-siblings (Charles Lindbergh had another family in Germany while he was married to Anne), but also because of her candid of her own marriage. I think this is the third volume in her memoirs.

I am also reading Diane Keaton's memoir Then and Again. So far, very interesting. Lots about her own mother who kept journals.

Rebecca H.

What an awesome list! I had a great time reading Dorothy Wordsworth's journals last year, and I'd love to read more diaries, especially Virginia Woolf's. They are great bedtime reading, I think, because I can read a little bit before I fall asleep.


Denise--Thanks--I've added her books to my wishlist on amazon and discovered that a new Diary by Lindbergh--edited by her daughter is going to be published this spring! Cool--not that I will get to it this year, even, but it's good to know there is more than the five previously published diaries. I had no idea that Lindbergh had another family--I don't really know anything about them it seems--I can't wait to finally start reading her books. I have also gotten in line for Diane Keaton's memoir at the library--I thought about requesting it, but I wasn't sure. If you are enjoying it, I think it will definitely be worth a look.


Rebecca--I will have to add Dorothy W to my list--other readers have mentioned it as well, and I bet I would enjoy reading her. I have been enjoying dipping into this collection a little every day. Just reading one new author is almost enough and getting a taste of her writing--it's been fun and I keep adding more names to my list of diaries/diarists to look for!

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