Review: Note to Self by Connor Franta

I was quite excited going into this because the promise of short essays, original photography and poetry combined into one sounded right up my alley.

You might recognise Connor Franta from his popular YouTube channel, and in this diary-like look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.

“Our words, our firsthand experiences, our shared truths can form ladders. And bring hope to others.”

However good the above might sound, in the end it didn’t quite live up. And I was disappointed to find Franta’s writing style coming across as quite hollow and privileged. Also, his weird “I’m a special snow flake” complex rubbed me the wrong way multiple times:

“I’ve never been a big fan of attending awards shows. Most are pretentious, and few are truly entertaining. In theory, it sounds fun to witness the glamour and chaos of the red carpet firsthand. But the truth is that once you’re done up, looking fine, and immersed in such superficial gatherings . . . it’s not all that. The novelty soon wears thin.
I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.”

I couldn’t help but think of this hilarious tweet about Artsy White Boys™:

Then the genericness of Franta’s thoughts and feelings didn’t help his case either. There wasn’t anything compelling enough for me to continue on where the writing’s considered, so I did skim-read a lot towards the end. And another thing I want to point out: the atmosphere. It just felt so cold and standoffish with a lot of telling with little to no showing. I mean: “This. Fucking. Sucks. I’ll repeat that until you believe it: This. Fucking. SUCKS.”
Here’s an idea: How about you show me why it fucking sucks instead of repeating it for emphasis…

To be frank, Note to Self felt a lot more fitting for the blog post format than something you’d expect to read in a book. Which leads me to the pretentious Tumblr-esque poems interspersed throughout:

Note to Self 10-- bookspoils

 

Note to Self 11-- bookspoils

There’s a lot more where that came from… I’m genuinely rattled that this made it into the final version of the book.

However, to end this review on a much brighter note, I have to mention the vibrant photographs. Not going to lie, they were the only reason I continued on with this book. But I quickly noticed that – save for a few – the pictures weren’t as eye-catching as I’d hoped. (You can just go on Connor Franta’s Instagram for the same effect.)

But still, here are a few of my favorite photos to brighten this ending a bit:

Note to Self 1-- bookspoilsNote to Self 9-- bookspoilsNote to Self 7-- bookspoils

Note to Self 8-- bookspoilsNote to Self 6-- bookspoils
2/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Note to Self, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Your Soul is a River by Nikita Gill

Your Soul is a River 1-- bookspoilsI think it’s pretty obvious why I picked up this poetry collection… the cover. It’s truly one of the most enchanting ones I’ve seen. Divided into eight parts, this is a book about the journey of healing from trauma and becoming whole again.

I was beyond ecstatic to finally give Your Soul is a River  a go because I’d heard nothing but good things. But then I started reading and realized quite quickly that the writing and I didn’t connect. It’s the kind that tries so hard in certain places to be poetic that it rapidly loses its meaning and symbolism for me. And I wouldn’t have paid it any attention if it had happened only a handful of times… but that wasn’t the case.

Thankfully, there were still a number of superb pieces to take my mind off the negative factors in this collection. So here are some of those:

Your Soul is a River 2-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 3-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 4-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 5-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 6-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 7-- bookspoilsThe above one gave me chills!

 

Your Soul is a River 8-- bookspoilsIconic.

 

Your Soul is a River 9-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 10-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 11-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 12-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 13-- bookspoils

I admire the above one so much because it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in My Mad Fat Diary with Rae and her therapist, Kester:

I’m all tears.

Your Soul is a River 14-- bookspoils

 

Your Soul is a River 15-- bookspoils


Overall, this was a dashing poetry collection with a good number of gems sprinkled throughout to keep me satisfied. In the end, however, something just didn’t click with me, and it ultimately failed in capturing a place in my heart.

3/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Your Soul is a River, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Lullabies by Lang Leav

“There is a certain quality to words that—when strung in a certain way—has an almost hypnotic effect.”

Lullabies was my second poetry read by Lang Leav, and save for a handful of excerpts, I was a bit let down. From what I recall of  The Universe of Us, it was an enchanting collection with a number of gems thrown in for good measure.

But the poems in this one, especially the few that tried to come of as witty or rhythmic, were puzzling and perplexing and just why…. Leav tries to tackle down poems “of hope and ecstasy, of tenderness and betrayal,” but in the end I was just left with little to no emotions. However, I did love the splendid illustrations featured in here:

And so instead of focusing on those aforementioned nonsensical pieces, I decided to share those rare quotes and poems that captured my heart for a hot minute:

Patience

“Patience and Love agreed to meet at a set time and place; beneath the twenty-third tree in the olive orchard. Patience arrived promptly and waited. She checked her watch every so often but still, there was no sign of Love.

Was it the twenty-third tree or the fifty-sixth? She wondered and decided to check, just in case. As she made her way over to the fifty-sixth tree, Love arrived at twenty-three, where Patience was noticeably absent.

Love waited and waited before deciding he must have the wrong tree and perhaps it was another where they were supposed to meet.

Meanwhile, Patience had arrived at the fifty-sixth tree, where Love was still nowhere to be seen.

Both begin to drift aimlessly around the olive orchard, almost meeting but never do.

Finally, Patience, who was feeling lost and resigned, found herself beneath the same tree where she began. She stood there for barely a minute when there was a tap on her shoulder.

It was Love.

…………………………….

“Where are you?” She asked. “I have been searching all my life.”
“Stop looking for me,” Love replied, “and I will find you.”

Little tales like the above ones are my Achilles’ heel.

And/Or

“I wanted everything because I didn’t want anything enough.”

Message in a Bottle

“We can’t see ourselves the way others see us.”

This piece me think a lot on whether that’s a good or bad thing. I’m still contemplating.

That Night

“It was one of those nights that you are not altogether sure really did happen. There are no photographs, no receipts, no scrawled journal entries.”

Three Questions

“What was it like to love him? asked Gratitude.
It was like being exhumed, I answered. And brought to life in a flash of brilliance.

What was it like to be loved in return? asked Joy.
It was like being seen after a perpetual darkness, I replied. To be heard after a lifetime of silence.

What was it like to lose him? asked Sorrow.
There was a long pause before I responded:

It was like hearing every good-bye ever said to me—said all at once.”

Poker Face

“There was a time I would tell you,
of all that ached inside;
the things I held so sacred,
to all the world I’d hide.
 
But they became your weapons,
and slowly I have learnt,
the less that is said, the better—
the lesser I’ll be hurt.
 
Of all you’ve used against me,
the worst has been my words.
 
There are things I’ll never tell you,
and it is sad to think it so;
the more you come to know me—
the less of me you’ll know.”

This haunting poem remains my favorite one. It was worth going through all of it, just to find this one shining gem.

Remembering You

“The day you left, I went through all my old journals, frantically looking for the first mention of you. Searching for any details I can no longer recall—any morsel of information that may have been lost to my subconscious. The memory of you is fading, a little at a time, and I can feel myself forgetting. I don’t want to forget.”

A Ghost

“Strange how it mattered so much,
when now it matters
so little.”


Overall, since my expectations were lower than low, Lullabies was a lot better than I was anticipating. It managed to hit my heart in a couple of places, so I’m glad I gave it my best shot.

3/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Lullabies, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!