Sunday, 6 November 2011

Reading Other People's Journals

Before you start shouting "sacrilege" let me assure you that I only mean journals I've permission to read. That means, published journals.

I will admit, reading people's journals hold a strong fascination for me. As a journal keeper, I want to see what they record, how they do it, and whether they can inspire me/teach me to do it better. As a person, I want to learn about their life through the most intimate medium. I know that their journals may not be the most accurate history of their time, but it is their history. Not just of facts, but of their thoughts and emotions. And as an extremely curious (nosy) person, I just want to uncover delicious secrets (which actually most of the time are incredibly boring.)

But, because I am a journal keeper, I would not dream of reading a person's private journal because I would not want them to read mine. That's where published journals are good. Author has given me permission to read them, so there is no guilt or a sense of crime, and I'm free to indulge.

I am always on the lookout for good journals. Of course, it is inevitable that most of the journals I end up reading are from writers/poets etc. because writer's mind holds a fascination for me. I am also more interested in learning about them,  than say a modern politician's diary. Currently, I'm reading "Time Out of Mind", Leonard Michael's diary. I came across this book in a bookshop in New York. Until then, I'd never heard of this guy, and now here I'm reading about his private life.

Some of my favourite journals are Anne Frank's Diary, Virginia Woolf's writer's diary, and Christopher Isherwood's diary. 

What about you? Do you like other people's diary? If so, why? And if not, why? What are your favourite diaries? 


  1. This is one I'll never forget. It's heart wrenching but you won't be able stop reading.

  2. I read An Illustrated Life: by Danny Gregory. He writes about what happened in his family when his wife became paralyzed after an accident. For such a possibly depressing topic, it was still an uplifting book; he doesn't sugar coat how he felt during the initial months, but it ends upbeat. I found it empowering and it helps to keep your own problems in perspective when compared to others.

  3. I love reading other people's journals and diaries. I think it helps me to think more about my own life. I learn new techniques.

    I love words and how people can string them together that paints a picture for us to see. That has always amazed me.