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Book Review: List Your Self

Book Review: List Your Self

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” – Lao Tzu

How well do you know yourself? It is safe to assume that most would say they know themselves backwards and forwards. However, there are probably questions about yourself that you have never really taken the time to dwell on and truly ponder.  Some of these questions may be a bit superficial, but others may be of the truly consequential. So are you brave enough to find out about the nitty gritty?

Ilene Segalove and Paul Bob Velick joined forces to bring readers List Your Self: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery. Together they provide a variety of questions from the seemingly mundane, like listing the things you do when you first wake up in the morning, to the potentially painful, like all the people you’ve hurt. This book is truly all about the reader; their lists and their experiences. After all, reading someone else’s notes won’t necessarily help you discover more about yourself.

The authors’ brief introduction provides more insight into their approach to self-discovery through listmaking. As they describe it, their book “unlocks the door to your personal identity. It’s an easy, provocative, and liberating opportunity to get to know your self.”

According to the authors, listmaking provides an opportunity to dive into your memory and peak into the corners you may not have explored before. And why would someone want to read this book? Here are a few of the reasons given by the authors:

  • To shed light in dark personal areas
  • To learn about your self
  • To remember your worth
  • To be surprised
  • Why not?

The lists are broken up into chapters in order to create a centralized focus and to pinpoint certain themes. For instance, the authors ask readers to list “all the ‘near miss’ accidents you’ve almost had because you were staring at your phone while walking or driving.”

Who really wants to answer that honestly? But if you did, what would come from that self-awareness?  Would you make changes? Would you become more aware of your surroundings when on your phone?

Or what would your response be if you were asked to list “what you would say if the one who got away showed up at your door”? Would the single page provided in the book be enough?  Do you only need one line because all you would say is “I love you”? And how does this imaginary monologue to this lost love make you feel? Empowered? Ashamed? Humbled? Emboldened?

My husband and I are the best of friends. We have been together for ten years, and I know him almost as well as I know myself. In an effort to really use List Your Self, I asked him to participate in a question and answer session using the book. While the intention of the book is self-discovery, my husband and I also found it to be a fun and interesting conversation starter.

We enjoyed asking questions, even the emotionally difficult ones, and sharing our answers and experiences. While the authors did not intend it to be a book for couples, I would encourage couples who are vulnerable and deeply comfortable with their spouses to consider asking each other a few of the questions in the book. The answers may surprise and inspire you!

List Your Self is an exciting and enlightening resource for self-discovery. Through the art of list-making, readers will get to know themselves intimately. Completing the lists in the book may require vulnerability, brutal honesty and courage, however, they may also require reflection and compassion with yourself. Few stones are left unturned in this book. Readers may be surprised, entertained or humbled by the answers they list. Ultimately, though, they will walk away knowing their selves deeply and more sure in who they are.

List Your Self: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery

Ilene Segalove and Paul Bob Velick

Andrew McNeel Publishing Revised Edition (March 2017)

Hardcover, 304 pages

Book Review: List Your Self

Caroline Comeaux Lee

APA Reference
Comeaux Lee, C. (2017). Book Review: List Your Self. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 27 Jul 2017
Published on Psych All rights reserved.