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An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia

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A true story of falling in love and overcoming anorexia. At the age of 32, after ten years of hiding from the truth, Emma Woolf finally decided it was time to face the biggest challenge of her life. Addicted to hunger, exercise and control, she was juggling a full-blown eating disorder with a successful career, functioning on an apple a day. Having met the man of her dream A true story of falling in love and overcoming anorexia. At the age of 32, after ten years of hiding from the truth, Emma Woolf finally decided it was time to face the biggest challenge of her life. Addicted to hunger, exercise and control, she was juggling a full-blown eating disorder with a successful career, functioning on an apple a day. Having met the man of her dreams (and wanting a future and a baby together), she embarked on the hardest struggle of all: to beat anorexia. It was time to start eating again, to regain her fertility and her curves, to throw out the size-zero clothes and face her food fears. And as if that wasn't enough pressure, Emma also took the decision to write about her progress in a weekly column for The Times. Honest, hard-hitting and yet romantic, An Apple a Day is a manifesto for the modern generation to stop starving and start living; a compelling and life affirming true story of love and recovery.


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A true story of falling in love and overcoming anorexia. At the age of 32, after ten years of hiding from the truth, Emma Woolf finally decided it was time to face the biggest challenge of her life. Addicted to hunger, exercise and control, she was juggling a full-blown eating disorder with a successful career, functioning on an apple a day. Having met the man of her dream A true story of falling in love and overcoming anorexia. At the age of 32, after ten years of hiding from the truth, Emma Woolf finally decided it was time to face the biggest challenge of her life. Addicted to hunger, exercise and control, she was juggling a full-blown eating disorder with a successful career, functioning on an apple a day. Having met the man of her dreams (and wanting a future and a baby together), she embarked on the hardest struggle of all: to beat anorexia. It was time to start eating again, to regain her fertility and her curves, to throw out the size-zero clothes and face her food fears. And as if that wasn't enough pressure, Emma also took the decision to write about her progress in a weekly column for The Times. Honest, hard-hitting and yet romantic, An Apple a Day is a manifesto for the modern generation to stop starving and start living; a compelling and life affirming true story of love and recovery.

30 review for An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    Short version: Just don’t read this book. Especially if you’re in recovery and actually trying to get better, or even a former sufferer who thinks you’re ok now. Just run far far away from this book. It’s not only super-triggering, it’s also pretty damn annoying and overall a big waste of your time. Longer version: I loathed this book. I have never hated a book this much before. Why: 1. It was disorganized, rambling, and incoherent. I couldn’t derive an actual story line from reading it. Each cha Short version: Just don’t read this book. Especially if you’re in recovery and actually trying to get better, or even a former sufferer who thinks you’re ok now. Just run far far away from this book. It’s not only super-triggering, it’s also pretty damn annoying and overall a big waste of your time. Longer version: I loathed this book. I have never hated a book this much before. Why: 1. It was disorganized, rambling, and incoherent. I couldn’t derive an actual story line from reading it. Each chapter had present tense rambling and flashbacks and fanmail from her blog and shallow research and seemingly whatever popped into the author’s head at any given moment. It was like episodic memory on shuffle. I could not follow, but even if you could put the pieces together, I don't think there was anything linear enough TO follow. 2. The book cover makes you think you’re going to read a love story and recovery story, which would be really interesting and great. But as it turns out, love? recovery? STORY? None of the above elements are there. a. There’s no love story. I’m not sure if she could be any less romantic in her descriptions of meeting and getting to know her boyfriend/fiancé/whatever. b. The “recovery” part is… where, exactly? ‘cause all I saw was a bunch of rambling about how recovery will be hard and she doesn’t really want to but has to if she wants to have a baby. c. As discussed above, there really just IS NOTHING COHERENT ENOUGH TO BE CALLED A STORY, WHATSOEVER. 3. So incredibly triggering and irresponsible. a. she throws numbers around constantly, waxes poetic about how awesome not-eating is, and her language is clearly anti-recovery. She refers repeatedly to having to gain “this extra weight” - to get above 105 pounds, if you’re wondering. And what she’s referring to is the “extra weight” needed for her reproductive organs to function. Here’s a fucking newsflash. If you’re not getting your period and can’t have a baby because of it, “extra weight” is not a reasonable term for what you need. If your body has shut down an entire system because you don’t eat, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to call your recovery, and I quote, “getting some extra weight under [your] belt.” UGH!!!!!!!!! She also talks about throwing away her size-zero jeans so that they don’t impede her recovery. Perfectly executed whine/brag. To quote the dietician who saved my life, “My skeleton wouldn’t fit into a size zero.” Nevertheless, reading this book jabs at that “oh, but maybe it is attainable” part of me. (though why in hell would I want to?) She throws around stuff like this: “It’s 4 pm and I’ve eaten a banana today.” And here’s how she describes not-eating: “the longer you starve, the more addicted you become to hunger, that clean, empty high. What does anorexia give me, what is this high? It fills me with endorphins, adrenaline; it gives me a pure, healthy feeling, a buzz, a sense of achievement, a sense of control. The hunger is the drug. Forget cocaine, forget Ecstasy, this is the best high I’ve ever known.” Yeah. Thanks. For that. That’s reallllly inspiring for people who want to recover. b. Even the author picture used for this book is like, “Look how skinnehhh I am!!” You could black out the stupid gaps at her waist and it would look a lot less explicitly “OMGSKINNEEHHHH.” In fact, I kinda wonder if the publisher photoshopped those gaps in for shock value. c. Even the stupid TITLE is triggering. I’m a former anorexic, but it never occurred to me until I encountered this book that anyone could go through life for any length of time at all eating ONE ACTUAL APPLE PER DAY AND NOTHING ELSE. But apparently she did exactly that. And part of me from a long time ago is like, “Hey, that’s possible? Someone has done it… bet that means I could, too!” So I shudder to think what people with more current or severe issues think. Finally, the overall intended premise of this book makes me wonder - what about getting better for yourself? What about people who haven’t met their Twoo Wuvv, should they just proceed with slowly killing themselves? Awesome message. Way to be a role model. Worst book ever.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.0 Stars This memoir shows the mindset of a woman stuck in the cycle of semi recovery from an eating disorder. The story read a bit like a stream of consciousness or a blog post and could have benefited from more editing. It was sad that author was still stuck in a place of restriction and avoidance at the end of the memoir. It's honest, but sad. 3.0 Stars This memoir shows the mindset of a woman stuck in the cycle of semi recovery from an eating disorder. The story read a bit like a stream of consciousness or a blog post and could have benefited from more editing. It was sad that author was still stuck in a place of restriction and avoidance at the end of the memoir. It's honest, but sad.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shainna

    This book felt awfully judgmental - about suicide, depression, and even medication. She calls suicide selfish, which makes it sound as if suicide was a rational decision instead of a desperate attempt to end misery. She's decided to go with a "normal" way of getting her hormones back in balance instead of electing for medication, all the while saying that she understand medication is life saving, but she's going with a "normal" way. By the middle of the book, I decided I would just read to the e This book felt awfully judgmental - about suicide, depression, and even medication. She calls suicide selfish, which makes it sound as if suicide was a rational decision instead of a desperate attempt to end misery. She's decided to go with a "normal" way of getting her hormones back in balance instead of electing for medication, all the while saying that she understand medication is life saving, but she's going with a "normal" way. By the middle of the book, I decided I would just read to the end to get the book over with. There are much better books about dealing with eating disorders (Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness is amazing). I never thought I would say this about a book about a mental illness that's about strict control, but there was too much repetition. Over and over she tells us what foods are safe (apples, bananas, low fat yogurt, muesli) and how much she wants a baby. My question in the end was: why do you want a baby so much? It was never answered. She tells us about all these different travels and exotic locations she gets to visit with her boyfriend, a travel writer. Congratulations? You're living a dream life? At the end, my overall feeling was that I had just been judged unworthy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily Crow

    This is a "real time" account (apparently adapted from her weekly column with a British newspaper) of the author's struggle to overcome her eating disorder and become healthy enough to have a baby. I wish her well, but I really didn't like this book. I think she wrote it too soon, and with insufficient editing; it's more like an extended blog post (complete with lots of reader comments sprinkled throughout the text) than a real memoir. Specifically, why I didn't like it: 1. It is very disjointed a This is a "real time" account (apparently adapted from her weekly column with a British newspaper) of the author's struggle to overcome her eating disorder and become healthy enough to have a baby. I wish her well, but I really didn't like this book. I think she wrote it too soon, and with insufficient editing; it's more like an extended blog post (complete with lots of reader comments sprinkled throughout the text) than a real memoir. Specifically, why I didn't like it: 1. It is very disjointed and episodic, almost like a selection of slightly-edited diary entries. I was especially unimpressed, as I mentioned, by the inclusion of numerous emails and comments she got from readers in response to her newspaper column. We are also treated to emails from her friends, family members and even her psychiatrist. This made for painfully dull reading. 2. If you have ever had food issues yourself, beware, this book is very triggering. For most of it, she is clearly still enamored of her disease, and writing in the present tense, goes on and on about how she is so "different" from all those normal people who actually eat and rest when needed, how many amazing feats she achieves cycling around on insufficient calories, how she feels clean and pure and empty. She also gives specific numbers of her weight. There are whole paragraphs in here that could be cut and pasted onto a "pro-ana" website without any changes. 3. She presents herself as being insufferably high maintenance, spoiled and whiny. (And sorry, I don't buy "my brain is wired differently; I have special snowflake syndrome anorexia" as an excuse for chronic spoiled behavior.) The low point of this book for me was when she described having tantrums and storming outside when traveling with her boyfriend because her orange wasn't perfect or her banana was too green or the cook put some oil on her vegetables, because not having the perfect orange was stressing her out. At one point, she states, "I know what you're thinking: what a waste. What a miserable, controlling woman; what an unadventurous way to travel." (Oh, honey, I was actually thinking something much less flattering than that....) I really wish I hadn't wasted my money on this one, and just re-read Marya Hornbacher's Wasted or Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness instead.

  5. 4 out of 5

    honeybee

    I really enjoyed this book, Emma makes herself very vulnerable by opening up like this to the world and it gave me an insight to what having anorexia must be like, this wouldn't of been an easy book to write then publish to the world. I thought the chapter on heart break with her first real love (which doesn't come for quite some time, this book is quite slow to start of with) was very moving, partially when she wrote "i left the airport feeling like i carried my heart in my palms in chunks" i re I really enjoyed this book, Emma makes herself very vulnerable by opening up like this to the world and it gave me an insight to what having anorexia must be like, this wouldn't of been an easy book to write then publish to the world. I thought the chapter on heart break with her first real love (which doesn't come for quite some time, this book is quite slow to start of with) was very moving, partially when she wrote "i left the airport feeling like i carried my heart in my palms in chunks" i re-read that line over and over a few times, because its something that i could relate too and it summed up first real heart break perfectly. I did question a few of Emmas statements, she states having an eating disorder is not about being thin, yet then states that she worried about her size 0 jeans ("gap" jeans, for some reason she wants to tell us the brand name of most things she wears) getting to small for her, so i was left with some confusion. I also agree there was a degree of rambling and repetitive parts of this book which made this feel far more like a blog, but a good one non the less, oh and there is a habit of ending every thought with a question. So everything ended like this... "im going to now write about something random, and muse about it in words in this review, but what is it really like to write a review for good reads? am i able to grab your attention...? well, not really. i suppose i'm just making an example here. But is it a good one? or a bad one? Well yes to both is the answer... but only time will tell" see? how everything ends with an question and an answer but without a real answer? that aspect of it, once i noticed it, started to get quite annoying, as she never really did answer the questions she ponders so often to us readers, so we're left with a blank page almost as the future, never knowing is she really escaped her anorexia for good... but then again, maybe with an eating disorder there are no real answers, and you never escape it, you just learn to fight it every day and win.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Megan Stokell

    Being a teenage girl in recovery from an eating disorder, I naturally see the topic of this book as interesting. However, whilst Emma Woolf's writing style isn't bad as such, I just found myself disappointed by some of the messages that I perceived to be underlying the story. I found her description of her illness to be described in excessive detail- as much as I am aware (God knows I'm aware) of the awful life that accompanies anorexia, I personally found that the way in which it was conveyed, Being a teenage girl in recovery from an eating disorder, I naturally see the topic of this book as interesting. However, whilst Emma Woolf's writing style isn't bad as such, I just found myself disappointed by some of the messages that I perceived to be underlying the story. I found her description of her illness to be described in excessive detail- as much as I am aware (God knows I'm aware) of the awful life that accompanies anorexia, I personally found that the way in which it was conveyed, felt forced. Furthermore, some of the details included seemed to me insensitive: her use of weight and numbers could easily trigger others, which is something that I felt ought to have been taken into account, given that so many people that show an interest in eating disorders and recovery memoirs are sufferers themselves- in my opinion, this book prioritised the 'shock factor' above the positive message that the book ultimately aims to get across.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gloriastartover

    Almost unreadable. I listened to the audio book, which might not have helped. This is a needlessly long book about an incredibly privileged young woman who goes to Oxford University, takes endless luxury holidays around the world and tortures everyone around her instead of counting her blessings. I started this book full of interest and sympathy but after about two hours of listening to Emma's woes it had evaporated. "Why would I write about it in a national newspaper?" Yes, good question. Almost unreadable. I listened to the audio book, which might not have helped. This is a needlessly long book about an incredibly privileged young woman who goes to Oxford University, takes endless luxury holidays around the world and tortures everyone around her instead of counting her blessings. I started this book full of interest and sympathy but after about two hours of listening to Emma's woes it had evaporated. "Why would I write about it in a national newspaper?" Yes, good question.

  8. 5 out of 5

    lauren

    While the writing itself is very good I found it to be self-indulgent and oddly judgemental towards mental illness. It's hard to take a writer seriously when she denies being rich/privileged when she attended private schools, Oxford and had a successful career in publishing, all while being related to Virginia and Leonard Woolf. While the writing itself is very good I found it to be self-indulgent and oddly judgemental towards mental illness. It's hard to take a writer seriously when she denies being rich/privileged when she attended private schools, Oxford and had a successful career in publishing, all while being related to Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Helen To

    Having read quite a few books that examine anorexia Emma Woolf's An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia offers a different perspective on the illness to the chronicles I have read which track the victim's journey into the deep grip the illness can have on those affected. I did not know that Woolf had previously written about her experiences with anorexia for her column in The Times newspaper but nonetheless An Apple A Day is a valuable addition to books which raise awareness Having read quite a few books that examine anorexia Emma Woolf's An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia offers a different perspective on the illness to the chronicles I have read which track the victim's journey into the deep grip the illness can have on those affected. I did not know that Woolf had previously written about her experiences with anorexia for her column in The Times newspaper but nonetheless An Apple A Day is a valuable addition to books which raise awareness of the illness. Emma Woolf's book offers a more overall and contextual investigation of anorexia and its affects on people to the journals that exists on anorexia that sees the illness from the victim’s perspective only (Incidentally, a very good account of the illness is Jennifer Hendricks’s Slim to None: A Journey Through the Wasteland of Anorexia Treatment which is a harrowing and haunting read). Woolf writes from the point of her life where she decides she wants to recover and have a child with her boyfriend. Where previous anorexia books I read usually start from when the illness takes hold Woolf’s alternative starting point lets the reader consider new aspects of anorexia. She is able to look back to see what went wrong and examine her attitudes to food before anorexia took hold in her twenties and contrast it to her responses to food in the present day. Foremost in her book is that anorexia is not just a physical disease but that the mental side of the illness also needs attention and care. An example of this is when an old flame of her dies through suicide and her family anxiously monitor her weight lest she lapses back into anorexia but forget to offer her support in the midst of Woolf's grieving for her old lover. Woolf also expands her analysis of anorexia into different social and medical areas. She investigates such areas as the lack of knowledge the public have of the disease, the high mortality rate where 20% of its sufferers will die as well as modern media attitudes to women's bodies. My personal view is that the more which can be done to promote anorexia as not just ‘the slimmer’s disease’ than the more accurate public knowledge will be of the illness, which is the same as Woolf’s. She is frank about the terrors of making public an illness that has been private, which by its nature requires isolation to be affective, but is surprised by the genuine well wishers and how her column has helped open up debate in families. One issue I did notice though from reading An Apple A Day is the illness consistently demands of the sufferer that they explain themselves whether this is to family, the medical profession or the public in this case all of which entail humiliation for Woolf on some level. Woolf also displays a level of self-awareness of how restrictive the illness is not just for herself but for other people too. Through the tight control over their food habits the anorexic feels they need to possess her reluctance to relinquish this. She is honest about the anxieties and tantrums there are when food is served to her in an unfamiliar form particularly when she is abroad. Likewise Woolf is ashamed of how her food habits have prevented social interactions with other people: from working lunches, birthday parties and spontaneous sharing of cake in the office are all are occasions which threaten her sense of security. Woolf is wistful and regretful for the opportunities she did miss; the central place food has when people interact is unavoidable but anorexia takes priority over all other concerns - such is its grip over its victims. The emotional distance it can also place between her and other people in the battle for control over oneself is also another affect of the illness as evidenced by her reluctance to move in with her boyfriend until a discussion with an aunt. If The Times ever choose to print her columns in book format I will be happy to buy it as Woolf is sincere and honest about the difficulties of trying to recover even when strong motivations for recovery exist. I wish her well in reaching her dream of becoming a mother and overcoming her struggles with anorexia.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sheena Carroll

    This is the 107th book I read this year. It is also by far the worst. (Spoilers and a trigger warning for triggering ED stuff): 1. This book is written by Virginia Woolf's grand-niece, a relation Emma is fond of mentioning but probably shouldn't as writing ability does not appear to be genetic. Her memoir is disorganized, poorly edited, extremely repetitive, and seems to struggle to settle on a main point. The poor writing is honestly indicative of the writing/thought organization issues I've dea This is the 107th book I read this year. It is also by far the worst. (Spoilers and a trigger warning for triggering ED stuff): 1. This book is written by Virginia Woolf's grand-niece, a relation Emma is fond of mentioning but probably shouldn't as writing ability does not appear to be genetic. Her memoir is disorganized, poorly edited, extremely repetitive, and seems to struggle to settle on a main point. The poor writing is honestly indicative of the writing/thought organization issues I've dealt with while in the same mental/physical boat as her, which goes along with my second point: 2. This is clearly not a recovery book, even if she wishes that it was. She is still dealing with heavily disordered thinking. I hope that in the 5 years since publishing this, she was able to get the help that she needs. I've read other eating disorder memoirs before, and this one is by far the most irresponsible one I've ever seen published: unlike in other memoirs I've read (for ED/complicated food relationships, Roxane Gay's Hunger and Myra Hornbacher's Wasted are much more honest), Emma is constantly glamorizing her illness. She goes into great details when it comes to numbers, be it her weight, BMI, or calories. She literally lists her anorexic diet at one point. She brags about being a high-functioning anorexic and how this is admired. She has trouble connecting the traumatic events in her life to her ED - let alone describing them in a comprehensible, somewhat moving manner. This isn't necessarily her fault - memory and articulation problems are common issues with eating disorders - but it means that she wasn't at the point to be writing a book about it. She also has an issue with connecting to the reader. It's fine that she has a point of privilege - I would've been fascinated to read an in-depth piece about an upper class woman in extreme mental turmoil. Instead, her sense of awareness of her money and privilege is embarrassing as she pretends to be "normal". At one point she describes her family as "hilariously poor", going on to say that she has no idea how they afforded fancy private schools and her Oxford education... 3. HUGE TRIGGER WARNING HERE: Her beliefs about mental illness and treatment are triggering and potentially fatal to any naive readers. She doesn't "believe" in medication, and wishes she could just pop in the "magic" pill Prozac and be happy again. She believes suicide is a selfish, cowardly act and uses the MOST CALLOUS, disturbing story to prove her point: At 24, she dates a married man with kids who is twice her age. She creepily refers to him as a "father" figure, and goes onto say that he was a brilliant older man, but struggled with depression. When she felt that she needed him most, he committed the horrible sin of killing himself while horribly depressed and cheating on his wife with a self-centered rich blonde with the maturity of a 16-year old. And then she calls him a coward. And then complains that as the mistress she wasn't "allowed" to attend the funeral. The fact that she uses this terrifying story as a "heart-wrenching" moment shows that she is clearly not at the point in her life or her recovery to be writing a book that young people will read. 4. She tries to have a main point but it is incredibly weak. Why does she want to have a child so desperately with a man who she describes as insanely jealous, who won't commit to her and doesn't even live with her??? He is clearly dealing with a mid-life crisis (again, she's dating much older, controlling men) and nothing that she mentions in the book shows him as being romantic or supportive. At one point in the book she suggests that they take a three-month break so she can work on improving herself (a surprisingly mature suggestion for her, as his lifestyle as an international travel writer was causing her more stress). He simply responds with "NO" - no, they are not taking a break...and she finds that romantic and supportive. I find that terrifying. What is worse is that making him happy and having his baby seems to be the only reason why she wants to recover. And she doesn't really want to recover - she just wants to gain just enough weight to get her periods back. 5. The title of the book is cheesy and awful, so I should have known the book would be bad when I pulled it off the shelf. Honestly, this book was heartbreaking to read, but it wasn't because of her ED. It's because she is obviously so in love with an older, charismatic man that she is deluding herself into a false attempt at recovery. She is desperate for him and a magical baby to heal her. For as callous and immature as Emma comes across as, I feel awful for her. If this book was fiction, it'd be an amazingly tragic feminist statement.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I wanted to like this book, because I think it is brave to tackle something so personal (and yet that affects so many other people) in the public eye. However, frankly, I think she would have done better to compile all of her newspaper column articles between two covers--assuming of course that they weren't written like this: in an overly repetitive, often redundant, severely removed, unemotional, contradictory, and scattered. Oh, and did I mention repetitive. Definitely repetitive. Repetitive t I wanted to like this book, because I think it is brave to tackle something so personal (and yet that affects so many other people) in the public eye. However, frankly, I think she would have done better to compile all of her newspaper column articles between two covers--assuming of course that they weren't written like this: in an overly repetitive, often redundant, severely removed, unemotional, contradictory, and scattered. Oh, and did I mention repetitive. Definitely repetitive. Repetitive to the point of distraction. Truly, the book repeated so much of itself so often that I began to wonder if Woolf hadn't written the chapters independently and then aggregated them together when someone inevitably approached her about a book deal (because anyone writing a popular newspaper column chronicling a recovery of any kind will, inevitably, get a book deal). However, the repetition was so severe throughout the chapters themselves that I discarded this theory and grudgingly chalked it up to poor writing and worse editing. Furthermore, Woolf should have determined from the outset what type of book she wanted this to be and stuck with it, because she simply doesn't have the writing skills to integrate scientific research with social commentary, all while writing what attempts to be a personal memoir. Are the facts important? Yes, and educating the public is a noble thing to do. But about three quarters of the way through the book, when she goes off on a tangent about the obesity pandemic, I almost closed the book. I'm ultimately not really sure why I struggled through to the end, seeing as all that was left were a hundred more pages about her 1) (unexplained) desire to have a baby and 2) amazement at her own recovery (which, as any former addict knows, is not Recovery with a capital R, as she would have us think). I am sad to say that I would not recommend this book. If you're looking for an honest account of an eating disorder, pick up Wasted by Marya Hornbacher.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I thought this book gave a different perspective on anorexia from other anorexia memoirs I have read. The author saw herself as having a very difficult mental illness, not a desire to look like a fashion model. I did wonder why she wouldn't continue to take an anti-depressant--just because she didn't like Prozac, there are other anti-depressants that are very effective. Natural treatments don't always mean better or more effective. It seems to fit with her obsession with "purity." One review men I thought this book gave a different perspective on anorexia from other anorexia memoirs I have read. The author saw herself as having a very difficult mental illness, not a desire to look like a fashion model. I did wonder why she wouldn't continue to take an anti-depressant--just because she didn't like Prozac, there are other anti-depressants that are very effective. Natural treatments don't always mean better or more effective. It seems to fit with her obsession with "purity." One review mentioned the repetitiveness of her comments. That is too often found in books that are created from blog entries. This one, however, was much better written than other blog books I have read. I thought the author had great insight into the loneliness of an eating disorder, the way it allows her to suppress emotions, the way it kept her from being able to be truly close to other people. The obsession with control and the fear of foods with fat in them was also insightful. I lost a good friend to anorexia/bulemia after college, but we had almost no understanding of eating disorders 40 years ago. This book helped me understand what her life was like.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kimberley

    I cried all the way through this book, its totally honest and very well written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    (7.5) This was a hard book to read at times due to how close to home it hits. I absolutely believe that the concept of 'functional anorexia' is one that needs to be more widely spread. (7.5) This was a hard book to read at times due to how close to home it hits. I absolutely believe that the concept of 'functional anorexia' is one that needs to be more widely spread.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Emma Woolf is 32 when she decides to tackle her anorexia head on, and try to start eating again. With the help of her boyfriend, her goal is to gain enough weight to be able to conceive. On her journey we get to join her from eating only an apple and low fat yoghurt a day to being brave, and tasting chocolate after a ten year break and eating carbs. I admire her bravery for allowing others to read about her battles as she does look at all the reasons that may have caused her eating disorders and Emma Woolf is 32 when she decides to tackle her anorexia head on, and try to start eating again. With the help of her boyfriend, her goal is to gain enough weight to be able to conceive. On her journey we get to join her from eating only an apple and low fat yoghurt a day to being brave, and tasting chocolate after a ten year break and eating carbs. I admire her bravery for allowing others to read about her battles as she does look at all the reasons that may have caused her eating disorders and allowed it to rule her life for so long. Having seen it in someone I know, I know how hard it is for them to face their demons, to eat enough every day, to eat with friends and family and discuss their issues without retreating. For myself, I now weigh too much and have my own issues with food as most of us do. A long time ago, in my teens I spent a crazy year with eating. I survived on 500 situps , and a diet of an apple, crackers and a cup of chicken noodle soup a day. The weight slipped away, and for a brief time, my size ten miniskirt could be spun around my hips. I was seduced by being skinny for a moment, and enjoyed seeing bones that had been hidden. I can see how easy it would have been to stay in that place, with a feeling of control and order. It's easy to put rules in place, and punish ourselves for straying. We all have our own issues, those things we won't eat, judging other by what they eat or my own favorite or judging people by what they buy in the supermarket. So a good read - a 4/5 from me. Worth picking up if you no someone who is struggling, to give you an insight into their lives.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen Haken

    As the mother of an anorexic, I found this book incredibly helpful. Emma Woolf's honesty about food, her 'voice', her fear and feelings of unworthiness echoe my own daughter's in many, but by no means all, ways. The fact that she 'managed' anorexia for so many years without going into hospital is amazing. Sadly my daughter had no choice but to be an in-patient on quite a few occasions now, but I hope that this book inspires her through her recovery as it has me. Reading about Emma's journey fills As the mother of an anorexic, I found this book incredibly helpful. Emma Woolf's honesty about food, her 'voice', her fear and feelings of unworthiness echoe my own daughter's in many, but by no means all, ways. The fact that she 'managed' anorexia for so many years without going into hospital is amazing. Sadly my daughter had no choice but to be an in-patient on quite a few occasions now, but I hope that this book inspires her through her recovery as it has me. Reading about Emma's journey fills me with hope. I have to admit to crying with relief when she eats chocolate and some brazil nuts, and I certainly cried at the end! But you have to read it for yourself... Highly recommended for anyone struggling with AN (anorexia nervosa).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    I found 'An Apple a Day' perplexing. It was repetitive, contradictory, judgemental and clumsy, yet I could not put it down. Despite her background in publishing, I thought it was very sloppily edited. Though perhaps her darting back and forth and insistence on repetition was deliberate, to illustrate her scattered mind. I'm not sure. Her insistence on being 'normal' and not privileged was quite grating, particularly when she feels the need to highlight her relation to Virginia Woolf. And her Oxbr I found 'An Apple a Day' perplexing. It was repetitive, contradictory, judgemental and clumsy, yet I could not put it down. Despite her background in publishing, I thought it was very sloppily edited. Though perhaps her darting back and forth and insistence on repetition was deliberate, to illustrate her scattered mind. I'm not sure. Her insistence on being 'normal' and not privileged was quite grating, particularly when she feels the need to highlight her relation to Virginia Woolf. And her Oxbridge education. And her year out in New York. And all her luxurious travelling. That said, I'd say due to the subject of the book along with her first hand experience, it's definitely readable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marie Carlino

    This book presented a different perspective on anorexia. It was written by a sufferer who developed the disease after adolescence but was never hospitalised for the condition. I like that the book clearly declared the author's motivation to overcome the disease. I hope that she was successful in becoming pregnant. The standout message from the book is the difference in overcoming this addiction. "It is not about stopping a behaviour, it is about starting one." She uses the experience of giving u This book presented a different perspective on anorexia. It was written by a sufferer who developed the disease after adolescence but was never hospitalised for the condition. I like that the book clearly declared the author's motivation to overcome the disease. I hope that she was successful in becoming pregnant. The standout message from the book is the difference in overcoming this addiction. "It is not about stopping a behaviour, it is about starting one." She uses the experience of giving up smoking and comparing that with the need to start eating. These are the words I am left with after I finish the book. It is an illuminating message.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Loved it. A very open and thoughtful account of Emma's own recovery journey, this book also places the issue of eating disorders firmly in the public arena, and challenges the myth that anorexia is about vanity, or a diet gone wrong. It doesn't follow the typical format of a mental health recovery memoir, and Emma is honest about the ups and downs of recovery and the way in which personality traits can predispose a person to issues with food. Great read (probably one of the best) for anyone who Loved it. A very open and thoughtful account of Emma's own recovery journey, this book also places the issue of eating disorders firmly in the public arena, and challenges the myth that anorexia is about vanity, or a diet gone wrong. It doesn't follow the typical format of a mental health recovery memoir, and Emma is honest about the ups and downs of recovery and the way in which personality traits can predispose a person to issues with food. Great read (probably one of the best) for anyone who wants to understand more about eating disorders and anyone on their own journey of recovery.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I knew it would be a bad idea to read this book, but I did it anyway. I almost gave it two stars, but then I remembered when she referred to the plot lines of The Wire as "incomprehensible" and I removed one. She writes that anorexia is not about being thin and attractive, which I believe, but then many of her descriptions seem to suggest that that really is what it was about for her. I wish her all the best, but not an amazing read. I knew it would be a bad idea to read this book, but I did it anyway. I almost gave it two stars, but then I remembered when she referred to the plot lines of The Wire as "incomprehensible" and I removed one. She writes that anorexia is not about being thin and attractive, which I believe, but then many of her descriptions seem to suggest that that really is what it was about for her. I wish her all the best, but not an amazing read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lillerina

    Yeah, it was okay. I felt like I was reading her blog, and not the best-written blog in the world, but it was okay. I liked it well enough.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Knox

    This has been the piece of evidence that God has used in my life to gently lead me to an acknowledgment of the sin/shame that easily beset. It was an excellent read! I found in Emma a kindred spirit. If you are interested in the innerworkings of the soul of mental illness sufferers, read this book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kayla DeVault

    This book should have a trigger warning label on the cover, and a more detailed explanation of why in the first few pages. That's my first comment. In regards to its content, I see the other reviews have some harsh language and resentment towards the use of specific numbers, language, etc. as well as its stream-of-consciousness kind of flow. As for its organization, I think that makes sense. To think that a book about eating disorders is going to have any form of organization is kind of a joke to This book should have a trigger warning label on the cover, and a more detailed explanation of why in the first few pages. That's my first comment. In regards to its content, I see the other reviews have some harsh language and resentment towards the use of specific numbers, language, etc. as well as its stream-of-consciousness kind of flow. As for its organization, I think that makes sense. To think that a book about eating disorders is going to have any form of organization is kind of a joke to me; the reality of eating disorders is you strive for that perfection, but it's otherwise tumultuous and confusing. I could catch that drift from the style alone. It gave me a headache, sure, but it seemed to be more authentic. I felt like I was revisiting memories that were not mine, but I knew them from previous introduction in the book. I agree calling suicide "selfish" is harsh and unsettling. On that same line of thought, so would be eating disorders, yet Emma specifically talks about genetic predisposition near the end of the book. It does come off as judgmental. I think she's trying to communicate the idea (which she also mentions regarding anorexia) that something so private also has huge consequences for your family and loved ones. She could have said that more sympathetically (or empathetically?), however. As for the triggering aspects, like number use, I guess that's part of the reality. Maybe part of this is geared to others to make them understand that reality. However, it should come with serious disclaimers. I think I would also judge how, like the new movie To the Bone, it perpetuates a very strict definition of eating disorders - like everyone has to be starving and underweight to suffer form it. I believe she mentioned men suffer too? Or maybe not. I don't think she mentioned the vast array of sufferers, although I know the show Supersize vs. Superskinny where she is featured definitely hit on those things - and even an interview she did with a man talked about some of this misconceptions and lack of treatment as a result of them. Overall, I think the book was tough but insightful. It is triggering in many ways, and almost serves as a tool book; however it also normalizes a lot of feelings in what I think is a productive way in terms of recovery. For example, the longevity of recovery; the thoughts that occur; the guilt; the impossibility sometimes of seeing a future without carrying on; etc. For those reasons, I think it should be less harshly judged. And, yes, the going on about babies was not relevant to some - and I would like to see a focus on health that goes beyond conception and pregnancy and considers the possibility of passing on behaviors and how to manage (be ready) for that --- however the bravery in sharing so much should not be quickly dismissed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    lucy♡

    Emma Woolf's memoir was an interesting read, to say the least. I went into this expecting greatness. I’m familiar with Emma's work and her story so I was extremely exciting to get a more in-depth look into her anorexia but I came out with very mixed opinions. Firstly, if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder of any kind, I urge you to stay away from this book. Woolf repeatedly mentions her lowest weight, calories, anorexic behaviours and more triggering content which I know impact Emma Woolf's memoir was an interesting read, to say the least. I went into this expecting greatness. I’m familiar with Emma's work and her story so I was extremely exciting to get a more in-depth look into her anorexia but I came out with very mixed opinions. Firstly, if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder of any kind, I urge you to stay away from this book. Woolf repeatedly mentions her lowest weight, calories, anorexic behaviours and more triggering content which I know impacted me negatively. If you are easily influenced, please consider your mental state before picking this one up. This book didn’t read at all like a story but rather episodic and unedited blog posts. It wasn’t really something I was the biggest fan of. The colloquial writing style could have initially allowed me as the reader to form that close connection but after a while, it just deterred me from reading. I think it would have benefitted being put through a few more drafts. In addition to this, it was very repetitive and going over the same things over and over. This became tedious after a while and I wish we went over something new rather than recycling old material we saw in the previous chapter. However, I did enjoy that we got a very raw and candid insight into a deadly disease. Woolf doesn’t sugarcoat which adds to the authenticity and overall allows the readers to learn about the illness in great detail. I wish we could have more than the fertility side of things addressed though. There was a brief section on extreme hunger, although never explicitly stated as that. Extreme hunger is one of the worst things to happen, trust me. An insatiable appetite and overwhelming cravings contradicting the intense fear of weight gain makes an absolutely terrifying experience, I promise you that. Woolf evidently goes through this but never really explains it much or allows other fighters to know they’re not alone and it’s a perfectly normal part of recovery. I wish she’d explained that more. Also, I would have liked to see more hidden symptoms of the disease being recognised (to give a fully honest and open approach) such as hair loss, lanugo, heart problems, hair loss, osteoporosis. These would have been much appreciated. Sadly, we only really explore fertility and conception. The book had the potential to be incredibly educational and informative but unfortunately missed its mark. Overall, the book was okay. My heart broke for Emma and I was rooting for her recovery through the book and I send my love and wishes for her, I just wish the book had been put through some more editing and presented all sides of anorexia, not just a few symptoms. Love, Lucy x

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    Yes, I did just read another book about anorexia. Why? Because it was there. I got mildly into a British reality series Superfats vs Superskinnies (or something) which Woolf was also doing a bit on anorexia during that season? The concept is pairing undereaters with overeaters and forcing them to eat each other's meals in order to confront them with their dysfunctions - very "can't look/can't look away" For her part Woolf talked to range of types of anorexics to show it's not just waify teenage Yes, I did just read another book about anorexia. Why? Because it was there. I got mildly into a British reality series Superfats vs Superskinnies (or something) which Woolf was also doing a bit on anorexia during that season? The concept is pairing undereaters with overeaters and forcing them to eat each other's meals in order to confront them with their dysfunctions - very "can't look/can't look away" For her part Woolf talked to range of types of anorexics to show it's not just waify teenage girls who are affected. Woolf did a weekly column on trying to work on recovering from anorexia after 13-14 years with the disease in the hopes of being able to conceive a baby with her BF. The book feels like the culmination of that particular project. It explores what it is like to have to fight your brain on very basic human needs. Woolf also claims to have other undiagnosed mental problems, but didn't seem to be undergoing care at that point. I was curious about her sudden flashes of rage as she starts to gain weight and experience more feelings. There seemed to be so much repressed - not that she must expose all in a memoir - but it did fuel some armchair psychology. She does go on a weird rant about how obesity is somehow more destructive for children than other forms of malnutrition. Which seems like a great wallop of whataboutism in the middle of your completely unable to deal with food memoir. Log - eye - something something. YMMV.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kyla

    I really wanted to like this book, especially because the first chapter was well-done. The book is a day-to-day diary (blog), and she perhaps succeeds in the writing as best as she could given that it's a narrative of what she's going through right now. But as other reviewers have mentioned, it was often pejorative and extremely judgmental--both toward the author but also toward anyone whose experiences she hasn't shared. I also found it to be tangential and tiresome at parts. Sometimes there's I really wanted to like this book, especially because the first chapter was well-done. The book is a day-to-day diary (blog), and she perhaps succeeds in the writing as best as she could given that it's a narrative of what she's going through right now. But as other reviewers have mentioned, it was often pejorative and extremely judgmental--both toward the author but also toward anyone whose experiences she hasn't shared. I also found it to be tangential and tiresome at parts. Sometimes there's a sentence with great insight, but much of it is too simple and I can't help but want to see her rewrite this several years from now, and see what she'd have to say then. Overall, she accomplished what she set out to do, which I can't fault the writing for, but the book still seemed lacking.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    I read this book because I really like memoirs and this one looked interesting to me. This book is about a girl, Em, who has been anorexic for about ten years. It started when she was about nineteen years old. She is trying fight this disease so she and her long time boyfriend, Tom, can try to have a baby. I thought that this book was very interesting. Anorexia has had a effect on my life and it is interesting to read about it through someone else eyes. I would recommend this book to anyone who I read this book because I really like memoirs and this one looked interesting to me. This book is about a girl, Em, who has been anorexic for about ten years. It started when she was about nineteen years old. She is trying fight this disease so she and her long time boyfriend, Tom, can try to have a baby. I thought that this book was very interesting. Anorexia has had a effect on my life and it is interesting to read about it through someone else eyes. I would recommend this book to anyone who is in the eighth grade or above. Anorexia is a very serious disease and its one that no one really talks about. I would recommend this book to someone who is in the eighth grade or higher because it is so serious and I feel like you need to have a more mature mindset when reading this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate McIntyre

    'An apple a day' follows the real life journey of Emma Woolf, a woman suffering from an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa and the struggles to reach recovery. One of her main motivating forces is to conceive a baby and create a family with her partner Tom. The book is accurate in the description of the illness, giving the reader a view into the life of an individual who suffers from the illness. At times i could relate to the thoughts and struggles that Emma faced throughout her attempts 'An apple a day' follows the real life journey of Emma Woolf, a woman suffering from an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa and the struggles to reach recovery. One of her main motivating forces is to conceive a baby and create a family with her partner Tom. The book is accurate in the description of the illness, giving the reader a view into the life of an individual who suffers from the illness. At times i could relate to the thoughts and struggles that Emma faced throughout her attempts to recover. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it to be a great read on the real life struggles of having an eating disorder and trying to recover from such a disorder.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I read this book after battling with anorexia since July 2013. I've recovered well and it is now in a manageable condition, what Emma calls 'functional anorexia' I found it helpful to know that I was not alone. The extreme hunger and other challenges Emma faced are real and scary for almost all anorexics and her honesty about these topics was helpful. However, this book should be read with caution. Emma is still extremely ill whilst writing this book and it may be triggering for some readers. I w I read this book after battling with anorexia since July 2013. I've recovered well and it is now in a manageable condition, what Emma calls 'functional anorexia' I found it helpful to know that I was not alone. The extreme hunger and other challenges Emma faced are real and scary for almost all anorexics and her honesty about these topics was helpful. However, this book should be read with caution. Emma is still extremely ill whilst writing this book and it may be triggering for some readers. I wish Emma the best with her recovery and hopefully one day she'll beat this illness once and for all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily Good

    I loved the honesty and vulnerability of the author. Speaking from experience, it is common to not be "Fully Recovered." For that reason, I feel especially drawn to this book. If you need reassurance that your inner critic is not a sign that you are going crazy, that other people have this incessant voice telling them to Be More (Destructive, that is), I recommend this book. This memoir was a catharsis for me. On the other hand, if you are reading this to understand what a loved one is going thr I loved the honesty and vulnerability of the author. Speaking from experience, it is common to not be "Fully Recovered." For that reason, I feel especially drawn to this book. If you need reassurance that your inner critic is not a sign that you are going crazy, that other people have this incessant voice telling them to Be More (Destructive, that is), I recommend this book. This memoir was a catharsis for me. On the other hand, if you are reading this to understand what a loved one is going through, please try not to be judgemental when reading her personal account. If you are newly Recovering, I caution you that this book has trigger potential.

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