Burn After Writing: Summary and Reviews

How honest are you with yourself?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat… the world has become one giant confessional. In a reversal of this trend, Burn After Writing by Sharon Jones encourages you to share absolutely nothing. With its insightful questions and thought experiments, this private journal challenges you to play a game of Truth or Dare with yourself.

Be honest with yourself. Reflect on your past, present, and future. Push your limits. Create a secret book that’s about you – and just for you. And when you’re finished with it hide it, toss it, or Burn After Writing.

Official Book Summary

The national bestseller

“This book has made me laugh and cry, filled me with joy, and inspired me.” – TikTok user camrynbanks

The phenomenally popular secret journal filled with private prompts for personal reflection, self-exploration, and fueling creativity. 

Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, TikTok, VSCO, YouTube…the world has not only become one giant feed, but also one giant confessional. Burn After Writing allows you to spend less time scrolling and more time self-reflecting. Through incisive questions and thought experiments, this journal helps you learn new things while letting others go. Imagine instead of publicly declaring your feelings for others, you privately declared your feelings for yourself? 

Help your heart by turning off the comments and muting the accounts that drive you into jealousy for a few moments a night. Whether you are going through the ups and downs of growing up, or know a few young people who are, you will flourish by finding free expression–even if through a few tears!

Push your limits, reflect on your past, present, and future, and create a secret book that’s about you, and just for you. This is not a diary, and there is no posting required. And when you’re finished, toss it, hide it, or Burn After Writing.

Burn After Writing Book Reviews

Below are some reviews from readers.

“I’m horrible at journaling. I hate it, but I was struggling for a long time, and every single person in my life (even strangers on the internet) highly recommended it. I forced myself for many years to make an effort but I just never could. Along comes this book, with PROMPTS: and my sense of self efficacy exponentially increased. The prompts made it easier for me to know what to write. What I wasn’t expecting was that in a very indirect way, this is a self-help book, too. I’ve started reading some of those but never finished one. So the fact that I wasn’t expecting a self-help factor consequently got me to finally finish one. I really had to dig deep for this one. Alone in my room, I still found myself looking behind my shoulders to make sure no one could see what I was writing. You were instructed to be brutally honest, and after skipping multiple pages that I didn’t want to answer, I eventually went back and let it all out.

It took my longer than expected to finish this book. I thought it would serve for me like a time capsule; I’d finish it in a day and then later on I could see even the deepest crevices of my mind when I eventually dug it up somewhere and reread what I wrote. I hid the book as soon as I was finished; unsure if it was because I was scared someone would find it or because of the shock and slight shame of the honesty in my answers. It’s 3 months later. I’ve thought about the book often since I finished it. I couldn’t remember exactly everything I wrote, but the prompts stuck with me. They made me a better version of myself subconsciously which I was not expecting at all from a $7 Amazon journal. I just skimmed all my answers over again and now I really do understand the title. I’d love to burn this thing to ashes. That person is not me anymore. I am not embarrassed by her, but I’m ready to leave her behind.” – Elena D.

“There seem to be two types of self-help/reflection books that are making huge impacts on the book selling industry these days. You have the artsy “adult coloring books,” of which I’ve bought plenty for relatives and recommend to friends. And you have the ones more suited to those that love words and wordplay like How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad) and Burn After Writing. These books/journals/art projects ask you to take time out of your everyday life and either forget about it (coloring) or look at the things that have the potential to make you happy or sad and dissect them. They use activities like drawing, list-making, word associations and many other activities to get you to think about things differently than you do on a regular basis.” – Geoff 

“This book was a journey of self-discovery. It was different altogether to see how one takes on the idea of a confessional that no one but yourself sees. To me, it was like a diary, but you know what to write. It was fun to read and write, and it was a cleansing experience. I think (and I am) that doing this once a year on your birthday is a delightful idea. I recommend this to anyone ever. Because no one truly knows exactly who they are.” – Elliot Burns 

“I spontaneously bought this journal. The next day when I saw it was being delivered soon I convinced myself that purchasing it was a mistake and a giant waste of money. When it got delivered, I already had no interest in it. But I opened it anyway just to see. The first page I randomly flipped to had a question that hit me hard. It said “would your 10 year old self be proud of you right now?” I have been dealing with a major trauma lately & been yearning for an outlet or some piece of mind. After I saw that question I took the journal more seriously and started reading it page by page and honestly answering the questions as they came… I’ve barely hit the surface of this journal and not only am i incredibly satisfied with my purchase, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Maybe something this simple will be my piece of mind.” – Sara Pasteur 

“I brought this book to help me do some shadow work along my spiritual journey. By shadow work I mean, looking deep into myself and addressing the bad and the ugly. This book is helping me so much! I can only do about 10 pages at a time because it makes you really look into yourself. Brings out a lot of emotions and makes me think about things I never considered important or would have thought would be impacting my life. Once I finish the pages I can handle, I sit back and reflect on what I just answered. I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve ordered one for my mom and brother as well. This is a book I will highly recommend to anyone that needs a push in the right direction for self healing.” – Lo 

“I’m the kind of person who buys adorable notebooks but never once opens them to journal in because I have 0 motivation to do it, and not sure what to write. This book is amazing for those who struggle with that!! Keeps you going back to it and having you think before writing. Great questions and the perfect book to self reflect. I wanted to say that I think this is good for more mature teens, young adults & up. I saw some reviews of Karens talking about they don’t like that this is a cult book, and bought it for their teens… inappropriate… etc. Well, one of the first few pages talks about being an adult and wanting to think about your past. So, this was definitely intended for a more mature audience. If you can’t handle words on a page then don’t buy it. Anyways, I really think this is a great book for those who feel lost in life, or need a new perspective on things. It’s also great to just let things go from your past. It’s like therapy. Highly recommend.” – Kailey 

“This book is amazing for anyone that wants to reflect on their past, present, and future. It really forces you to be authentically YOU, and open up with some challenging questions and topics. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to write and analyze their feelings on a deeper level!” – Haley Mueckenhoff


“This is an excellent book. A lot different than what I expected. It works perfect for my daughter and she was able to write a lot of things down and it’s actually kind of fun. Kind of makes you think about different things that you kind of forget about. Tons of pages where you can just think about things and what they mean to you. It’s just really fun to go back and look at different things that you like or you do without really thinking about them. So yeah I definitely recommend this book. My 14-year-old daughter loves it. It will also make a great gift. I bought one for my niece for her birthday and she loves it.” – Tina Wilson

Burn After Writing

Sharon Jones

Burn After Writing
$8.39
  • Jones, Sharon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages – 08/04/2015 (Publication Date) – TarcherPerigee (Publisher)

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