The Things In Our Diaries: A Reading List

Diary

Age 7: Dear Diary, Today I went to Clarisse’s house. It was fun.

Age 13: Dear Diary, We are leaving for Mom-mom’s funeral soon. Mom and Dad are fighting and THE WORLD IS FALLING OVER.

Age 23 [written on this laptop, not my Moleskine]: I am fulfilling my daydream of feeling like a Privileged Artist & sitting in an artisanal coffeeshop, working on my freelance assignment, next to my boyfriend who is drawing Russian-inspired characters for his latest creative endeavoring.

My diaries aren’t all that thrilling and over time, they’ve transformed from hit-or-miss “daily” self-missives to emotional ramblings over the anarcho-Communist boy who was in my 10th grade geometry class to what they are today: a commonplace book full of ticket stubs, lists of anxieties, doodles and observations. Lately, I’ve been inspired by Dear Queer Diary on Autostraddle. But enough about my journaling habits. What are yours?

1. “Reading Other People’s (Fake) Diaries.” (Alanna Okun, Buzzfeed, March 2014)

From the Dear America series to the Princess Diaries, fictional diaries gave the author a set of “emotional blueprints” by which to navigate adolescence: “Finding a way to decode your feelings and figuring out how to spend your days are worthy pursuits, characters like Harriet [the Spy] tell us.” 

2. “My Dementia: Telling Who I Am Before I Forget.” (Gerda Saunders, Georgia Review/Slate, March 2014)

Professor Gerda Saunders’ mind is dementing. She provides excerpts of her own diary and examines her mother’s Day Book, a collection of 27 diary entries written in her native Afrikaans, as she, too, suffered from undiagnosed dementia.

“2-5-2011
During my going-away meeting with Gender Studies, the faculty gave me this journal. In it I’ll report my descent into the post-cerebral realm for which I am headed. No whimpering, no whining, no despair. Just the facts.”

3. “On Keeping a Liary: Anais Nin, Autobiography, and the Lady Narcissism Debate.”(Sady Doyle, Superworse, March 2013)

Oversharing or honesty? Trivial or timeless? The worth of women’s writing rages on, and Anais Nin is a complex character in this drama.

“Let’s start with a few unpleasant facts. First: Anais Nin was a fraud. Fifteen volumes of her diary (which disillusioned fans have referred to as “the liary”) have been published, and all of them are untruthful.”

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Photo: Magic Madzik

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Emily Perper writes, reads, and edits in the DC 'burbs. Her favorite subjects include faith, feminism and queer things. She is the editor-at-large of The Annual, a bimonthly humor magazine. She contributes weekly to Longreads.
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