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If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging

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Jann Arden--bestselling author, recording artist and late-blooming TV star--is back with this funny, heartfelt and fierce memoir on becoming a woman of a certain age. The power, gravity and freedom she's found at fifty-seven are superpowers she believes all of us can unleash. Digging deep into her strengths, her failures and her losses, Jann Arden brings us an inspiring Jann Arden--bestselling author, recording artist and late-blooming TV star--is back with this funny, heartfelt and fierce memoir on becoming a woman of a certain age. The power, gravity and freedom she's found at fifty-seven are superpowers she believes all of us can unleash. Digging deep into her strengths, her failures and her losses, Jann Arden brings us an inspiring account of how she has surprised herself, in her fifties, by at last becoming completely her own person. Like many women, it took Jann a long time to realize that trying to be pleasing and likeable and beautiful in the eyes of others was a loser's game. Letting it rip, and damning the consequences, is not only liberating, it's a hell of a lot of fun: "Being the age I am--that so many women are--is just the best time of my life."      Jann weaves her own story together with tales of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and the father she came close to hating, to show her younger self--and all of us--that fear and avoidance is no way to live. "What I'm thinking about now aren't all the ways I can try to hang on to my youth or all the seconds ticking by in some kind of morbid countdown to death," she writes, "but rather how I keep becoming someone I always hoped I could be. If I'm lucky one day a very old face will look back at me from the mirror, a face I once shied away from. I will love that old woman ferociously, because she has finally figured out how to live a life of purpose--not in spite of but because of all her mistakes and failures."


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Jann Arden--bestselling author, recording artist and late-blooming TV star--is back with this funny, heartfelt and fierce memoir on becoming a woman of a certain age. The power, gravity and freedom she's found at fifty-seven are superpowers she believes all of us can unleash. Digging deep into her strengths, her failures and her losses, Jann Arden brings us an inspiring Jann Arden--bestselling author, recording artist and late-blooming TV star--is back with this funny, heartfelt and fierce memoir on becoming a woman of a certain age. The power, gravity and freedom she's found at fifty-seven are superpowers she believes all of us can unleash. Digging deep into her strengths, her failures and her losses, Jann Arden brings us an inspiring account of how she has surprised herself, in her fifties, by at last becoming completely her own person. Like many women, it took Jann a long time to realize that trying to be pleasing and likeable and beautiful in the eyes of others was a loser's game. Letting it rip, and damning the consequences, is not only liberating, it's a hell of a lot of fun: "Being the age I am--that so many women are--is just the best time of my life."      Jann weaves her own story together with tales of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and the father she came close to hating, to show her younger self--and all of us--that fear and avoidance is no way to live. "What I'm thinking about now aren't all the ways I can try to hang on to my youth or all the seconds ticking by in some kind of morbid countdown to death," she writes, "but rather how I keep becoming someone I always hoped I could be. If I'm lucky one day a very old face will look back at me from the mirror, a face I once shied away from. I will love that old woman ferociously, because she has finally figured out how to live a life of purpose--not in spite of but because of all her mistakes and failures."

30 review for If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging by Jann Arden is an absolutely wise accounting of one woman looking back and looking forward. This book should be read by every teenage girl. In a world where image is everything, Arden tells her younger self that she wasted so much time feeling inadequate instead of appreciating that she was who she was supposed to be. And there are wise words for the not-so-young woman, who would maybe benefit from the author’s lifetime experiences. If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging by Jann Arden is an absolutely wise accounting of one woman looking back and looking forward. This book should be read by every teenage girl. In a world where image is everything, Arden tells her younger self that she wasted so much time feeling inadequate instead of appreciating that she was who she was supposed to be. And there are wise words for the not-so-young woman, who would maybe benefit from the author’s lifetime experiences. The book is funny, enlightening, enjoyable and simply written by one who has learned from life’s tribulations. There is much to discover in this small book. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Breathtakingly, devastatingly honest. I don't know if you like Jann Arden's music, if you don't, or if you don't even know who she is. She's right around my age, she lives in my area of Alberta, and we both have aging on our minds. There are potentially many years ahead of us and we are both determined to do the most with them that we possibly can. We are entering the Crone stage of life, where we can do exactly what we like without worrying about what other people think. Our own opinions are al Breathtakingly, devastatingly honest. I don't know if you like Jann Arden's music, if you don't, or if you don't even know who she is. She's right around my age, she lives in my area of Alberta, and we both have aging on our minds. There are potentially many years ahead of us and we are both determined to do the most with them that we possibly can. We are entering the Crone stage of life, where we can do exactly what we like without worrying about what other people think. Our own opinions are all that matter now. I understand what one of my senior women friends meant when she advised me when I turned 50 that I was just coming into my power. Now I get it (and she is no longer here to see me make the mental connection, sadly). A few pearls of wild woman wisdom from Jann: “I appreciate the fact that my body is carting my soul around and it's doing a spectacular job of it. I see such strength and ability in myself, which I didn't even notice, let alone appreciate, when I was a young woman.” “Getting older in this life is a privilege.” “If you don't learn about problem solving at a young age, you can't expect to effectively navigate problems in adulthood.” “You have to keep going forward even if that forwardness is kind of sideways—sometimes backwards.” “Becoming wiser is the reward for getting older.” “[The Crone is] not going to stay in relationships that aren't loving and thoughtful and uplifting, and I mean any relationship, not just the ones where you're naked with the other person. In fact, the Crone doesn't need to be in a relationship. She is strong standing right where she is, on her own, breathing in and out on top of the mountain, owning every single thing she's ever done.” There's very little about Jann's career in this memoir, but plenty of life lessons and hard won experience. If you like reading memoirs, I would highly recommend this one. It is a quick read, but if you're a woman who wants some bracing encouragement, this is your book. Cross posted at my blog: https://wanda-thenextfifty.blogspot.c...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tina M

    As a long-time fan of Jann Arden, I am always there for whatever she wants to share with the world, be it music, books or her posts on social media. Her words resonate with me and have helped me through tough times more than once. In this book she talks about growing older, losing parents, the experience of being a woman and also the universal experience of being a good human. If I Knew Then is poignant, funny and also the first book I’ve read that was written during our current pandemic, so she As a long-time fan of Jann Arden, I am always there for whatever she wants to share with the world, be it music, books or her posts on social media. Her words resonate with me and have helped me through tough times more than once. In this book she talks about growing older, losing parents, the experience of being a woman and also the universal experience of being a good human. If I Knew Then is poignant, funny and also the first book I’ve read that was written during our current pandemic, so she touches on that experience as well. Jann Arden tells it like it is, and she doesn’t shy away from any of the nitty gritty stuff of life! I will be buying a hard copy of this book for myself and will also be gifting it to others. Thank you to Netgalley, Penguin Random House Canada and Jann Arden for an egallley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan Valentine

    Go crones! I listened to this book and enjoyed hearing Jann narrate her well-earned insights and experiences. Moments of humour, vulnerability, sadness and inspiration. I loved her perspective on aging and embracing this chapter of her life, especially realising how much I’ve aged since I first started listening to her music many, many years ago! I wished the book had been longer.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brandi Morpurgo

    I’ve never met Jann Arden. I’d like to. She lives right here in my province and I am pretty sure if we met we’d have a lot in common. Why? Because reading this book was like taking a peek into my own journals, thoughts & observations as I enter my Second Act of life. Jann writes with passion & humility about being generous with yourself and uncompromising about what you value in your life. This was a great book. Exactly what I needed. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking back on their I’ve never met Jann Arden. I’d like to. She lives right here in my province and I am pretty sure if we met we’d have a lot in common. Why? Because reading this book was like taking a peek into my own journals, thoughts & observations as I enter my Second Act of life. Jann writes with passion & humility about being generous with yourself and uncompromising about what you value in your life. This was a great book. Exactly what I needed. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking back on their life with more grace & awe than they ever imagined they deserved in their youth. Be kind to yourself. You’re more incredible than you give yourself credit for.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Listened to the audiobook read by Jann. It was like hanging out with a bestie. She embraces and rebrands the noun crone as a woman who has lived the ups and downs of life and gained wisdom, balance and peace. That’s something I can get behind! She describes her own journey to crone-dom but like hanging out with a bestie, it was over too soon and left me wanting more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Pole

    If I Knew Then by Jann Arden is a truly wonderful, uplifting read that explores the wisdom that comes with aging and, primarily, the power to finally let resentments and insecurities go. Told in her trademark warm and conversational style, Jann shares some very personal stories from her own life, and ruminates on the time that was spent hiding her truest self from the world. At the age of fifty-seven, she is savouring life in a new, more grateful way, and claims that she has never felt better. H If I Knew Then by Jann Arden is a truly wonderful, uplifting read that explores the wisdom that comes with aging and, primarily, the power to finally let resentments and insecurities go. Told in her trademark warm and conversational style, Jann shares some very personal stories from her own life, and ruminates on the time that was spent hiding her truest self from the world. At the age of fifty-seven, she is savouring life in a new, more grateful way, and claims that she has never felt better. Hers are truly inspiring words about embracing our collective years, rather than lamenting another candle on the cake. Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to read this ARC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Morton

    When I first started reading this I thought that maybe it was for an older woman but it is more like a wise older sister providing guidance. Honestly if read anything she wrote.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chrisreadsbooks

    This book gets 5 stars, first of all because it's written by Jann Arden. But also because of her message to me - and all women of a certain age who need to be reminded that there are incredible things to be found in aging. I want to be able to follow her message of acceptance and forgiveness. Maybe I will make a New Year resolution after all. This book gets 5 stars, first of all because it's written by Jann Arden. But also because of her message to me - and all women of a certain age who need to be reminded that there are incredible things to be found in aging. I want to be able to follow her message of acceptance and forgiveness. Maybe I will make a New Year resolution after all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mridula

    I'm glad I listened to this on Audible as Arden is animated and quite fun to listen to. Rather than simply 'talk at the listener', she mimicked her parents (and others) voices with a gentle ease to illustrate or underscore points and learnings. I appreciated her ability to poke fun at herself while simultaneously acknowledging that loving herself may well produce a better version of her. And I found the chapter on her father particularly poignant. A quick but good read. I'm glad I listened to this on Audible as Arden is animated and quite fun to listen to. Rather than simply 'talk at the listener', she mimicked her parents (and others) voices with a gentle ease to illustrate or underscore points and learnings. I appreciated her ability to poke fun at herself while simultaneously acknowledging that loving herself may well produce a better version of her. And I found the chapter on her father particularly poignant. A quick but good read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Teena in Toronto

    Jann Arden is Canadian singer, songwriter, broadcaster, actor and author, who is now in her late 50s. Her parents passed away in the last five years ... her father spent years being ill, including dementia, and her mother battled Alzheimer's. Jann talks about her family dynamic including the difficult relationship she had with her father, who was an alcoholic and not a happy man. She loved her mother, who stayed and took care of her father for over 60 years. Jann tells of the lessons she has lea Jann Arden is Canadian singer, songwriter, broadcaster, actor and author, who is now in her late 50s. Her parents passed away in the last five years ... her father spent years being ill, including dementia, and her mother battled Alzheimer's. Jann talks about her family dynamic including the difficult relationship she had with her father, who was an alcoholic and not a happy man. She loved her mother, who stayed and took care of her father for over 60 years. Jann tells of the lessons she has learned over the years, of not being happy with her body but being more at peace with it as she gets older, of giving up alcohol and liking the person she has become without it, and how the crazy childhood she had of hiding in the basement to escape her father led her to become a musician because in the dreary basement she had records to keep her company. This is the third book of Jann's I've read and I liked it. Her personality comes through and I felt like she was sitting with me and chatting. I liked the writing style ... it was amusing at times and honest. As a head's up, there is swearing. Blog review post: http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2020/11...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Simpson

    This one is perhaps less laugh out loud funny and more insightful than Jann’s earlier books but still full of her character. This book is especially a good read for women in their 50s and on. I wanted to write down so many quotes from this book. Her chapter on her father nearly broke me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    This book felt like I was sitting at her kitchen table, drinking coffee and just talking about real stuff. I could relate to most of it and the parts I hadn’t experienced I could relate and appreciate her vulnerability. If feeding my mother was a love letter to her mom, this was a love letter to herself. Beautiful, vulnerable and relatable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Norah Gibbons

    I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. If I Knew Then is a book by Jann Arden on the topic of ageing and embracing your inner crone. I’ve enjoyed listening to Jann Arden’s music for many years and first became acquainted with her writing through her Facebook posts about coping with her mother’s progression into dementia. Heartfelt and honest these posts are like a light to me as at the same time my son’s beloved grandmother was going through a similar I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. If I Knew Then is a book by Jann Arden on the topic of ageing and embracing your inner crone. I’ve enjoyed listening to Jann Arden’s music for many years and first became acquainted with her writing through her Facebook posts about coping with her mother’s progression into dementia. Heartfelt and honest these posts are like a light to me as at the same time my son’s beloved grandmother was going through a similar journey. This book is about accepting the ageing process and learning to enjoy life without all the negative expectations and doubts we put on ourselves as we grow towards middle age. Acceptance and celebration of who we are, where we have been, and why that makes us who we are now is the theme of this book and it came to me just when I needed to hear this wisdom. Publishing Date: October 27, 2020. #IfIKnewThen #JannArden #PenguinRandomHouseCanada #SelfHelpBooks #AgingGracefully #EmbraceYourCrone #PostiveBodyImage #bookstagram #bookstagrammer

  15. 4 out of 5

    Norah Gibbons

    I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. If I Knew Then is a book by Jann Arden on the topic of ageing and embracing your inner crone. I’ve enjoyed listening to Jann Arden’s music for many years and first became acquainted with her writing through her Facebook posts about coping with her mother’s progression into dementia. Heartfelt and honest these posts are like a light to me as at the same time my son’s beloved grandmother was going through a similar I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. If I Knew Then is a book by Jann Arden on the topic of ageing and embracing your inner crone. I’ve enjoyed listening to Jann Arden’s music for many years and first became acquainted with her writing through her Facebook posts about coping with her mother’s progression into dementia. Heartfelt and honest these posts are like a light to me as at the same time my son’s beloved grandmother was going through a similar journey. This book is about accepting the ageing process and learning to enjoy life without all the negative expectations and doubts we put on ourselves as we grow towards middle age. Acceptance and celebration of who we are, where we have been, and why that makes us who we are now is the theme of this book and it came to me just when I needed to hear this wisdom. Publishing Date: October 27, 2020. #IfIKnewThen #JannArden #PenguinRandomHouseCanada #SelfHelpBooks #AgingGracefully #EmbraceYourCrone #PostiveBodyImage #bookstagram #bookstagrammer

  16. 4 out of 5

    Reta

    #IfIKnewThen #NetGalley What wonderful, uplifting storytelling by Jann Arden. As beautiful as her music. She recounts many stories of her younger self. She is much more comfortable with herself now, having learned from the errors in her earlier years. She wouldn’t be who she is without all of her experiences, good and bad. What a wonderful read! Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Canada for a Digital ARC.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nora

    “WAITING FOR THE CRONE The meaning of the word crone varies depending on the person using it. Wikipedia says she is almost always a character in folklore and fairy tales. She is usually very disagreeable, somewhat sinister and malicious, with a sprinkling of magical or supernatural powers.  That all sounds completely delicious to me.  She sounds like somebody I’d like to invite over for a few pots of Earl Grey tea and a platter of carbohydrates.” p.1 Well I was guffawing before I even finished pa “WAITING FOR THE CRONE The meaning of the word crone varies depending on the person using it. Wikipedia says she is almost always a character in folklore and fairy tales. She is usually very disagreeable, somewhat sinister and malicious, with a sprinkling of magical or supernatural powers.  That all sounds completely delicious to me.  She sounds like somebody I’d like to invite over for a few pots of Earl Grey tea and a platter of carbohydrates.” p.1 Well I was guffawing before I even finished page 1. * Like her book, Feeding my Mother, there is honesty and reflection and heartbreak and optimism always sprinkled with her own brand of humour. * ‘Making sure I have enough time on my own let’s me be around other people and not want to punch them in the throat or myself in the temple.” * “Time has given me the clarity that only comes when the days and the months and the years pile up on each other so you can stand on top of it all and have an unobstructed view.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karejorr

    “If you can’t be brave, be reckless. We have a ticket to a great adventure. Be daring, spontaneous and brave.” I loved Jann Ardens take on aging and dying in this humorous memoir. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by the author herself. She is unapologetic in her views on growing older. I appreciate how she reminds us to take care of ourselves and make good health choices now that will benefit our older selves. She has many funny anecdotes from her late mother and is honest about her s “If you can’t be brave, be reckless. We have a ticket to a great adventure. Be daring, spontaneous and brave.” I loved Jann Ardens take on aging and dying in this humorous memoir. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by the author herself. She is unapologetic in her views on growing older. I appreciate how she reminds us to take care of ourselves and make good health choices now that will benefit our older selves. She has many funny anecdotes from her late mother and is honest about her struggles with her late father. I really enjoyed this book and will look up her other memoir about her mother.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Do you want to be a crone - a wise, unapologetic and forward thinking person? Do you believe it takes a long time to become a person? Do you believe you can never stop blooming? As Jann says, that’s the best part of living. You may know some of what Jann writes, but it’s uplifting and reinforcing and written plain and simple. I bought multiple copies as gifts for friends. With humor and grace, Jann tells us how to live an insightful and strong life. Treat yourself - it’s a quick and great story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julia Bennett

    I have grown up listening to Jann Arden's music, and in the past few years had the opportunity to see her live. What a beautiful voice and oh man, what a great personality! I still think of one joke in particular that she made between songs and chuckle. This book has some inspiring lessons and hardships she's learnt along the way. I have grown up listening to Jann Arden's music, and in the past few years had the opportunity to see her live. What a beautiful voice and oh man, what a great personality! I still think of one joke in particular that she made between songs and chuckle. This book has some inspiring lessons and hardships she's learnt along the way.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Lowton

    I'm approaching 50 and feel like I'm still waiting for this wisdom of which she speaks. Do yourself a favour: experience If I Knew Then as an audiobook. Listening to Jann talk is as enjoyable as listening to Jann sing. I powered through this in a day, and I'm sure I'll give it a listen again. I'm approaching 50 and feel like I'm still waiting for this wisdom of which she speaks. Do yourself a favour: experience If I Knew Then as an audiobook. Listening to Jann talk is as enjoyable as listening to Jann sing. I powered through this in a day, and I'm sure I'll give it a listen again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Francine Abel

    Beautiful book written by such an authentic woman. Being the same age as Jann and coming from the same type of dysfunctional family, I was able to relate to so much in this book. A must-read book, and one I will read again.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Great, easy read and full.of wisdom.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Needed to read this book. Accepting, embracing, learning. Loving.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trina

    I've been a Jann fan since first hearing I Would Die For You on Much Music before heading on a class trip to Europe 😊 This book follows Jann as she finds herself after the death of her parents. The theme of forgiveness is strong and I appreciate her take on becoming a crone since I am still in my own journey of being ok to say no and not take on other people's problems. I've been a Jann fan since first hearing I Would Die For You on Much Music before heading on a class trip to Europe 😊 This book follows Jann as she finds herself after the death of her parents. The theme of forgiveness is strong and I appreciate her take on becoming a crone since I am still in my own journey of being ok to say no and not take on other people's problems.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    5 star because it’s a memoir which is brave. I did find it quite repetitive.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vontel

    Started it Dec 4, was waylaid for a while by some mysteries. Delightful drawings/artwork inside the brief chapters are by Jann Arden. Seems to be some repetition, especially earlier in the book, from her last book "Feeding My Mother". However, this is a biographical reflection to talk about how she has grown as a "middle aged" woman, and what she treasures about the strength, wisdom & growth that has brought. So, while the experiences she relates may seem similar, her focus is more on what she l Started it Dec 4, was waylaid for a while by some mysteries. Delightful drawings/artwork inside the brief chapters are by Jann Arden. Seems to be some repetition, especially earlier in the book, from her last book "Feeding My Mother". However, this is a biographical reflection to talk about how she has grown as a "middle aged" woman, and what she treasures about the strength, wisdom & growth that has brought. So, while the experiences she relates may seem similar, her focus is more on what she learned from them. These were often hard learned lessons, and many people can relate & learn how it may help their own growth.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lynda Birch

    If you are a fan of Jann Arden, whether it’s her music, her Facebook page, or her other books, you’ll feel right at home reading her latest book. Arden looks at her life, her family, her career and her relationship with alcohol through the introspective and retrospective lenses that comes with ageing. Her signature sense of humour and honesty permeate the pages as we learn how she has come to not only like but also to love herself. Canada’s ‘Darling’ is a down-home girl who has learned to live h If you are a fan of Jann Arden, whether it’s her music, her Facebook page, or her other books, you’ll feel right at home reading her latest book. Arden looks at her life, her family, her career and her relationship with alcohol through the introspective and retrospective lenses that comes with ageing. Her signature sense of humour and honesty permeate the pages as we learn how she has come to not only like but also to love herself. Canada’s ‘Darling’ is a down-home girl who has learned to live her life on her own terms. Thankfully for her fans she is a Crone that shares. Thank you to Net Galley and Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to read this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Monger

    Jann Arden is so much more than her music. While she is prolific as a singer/ songwriter, she can also feel proud of her crone status and the wisdom gained for life’s second half. Arden is brutally candid about her failures and regrets and is determined to shed the shame associated with past mistakes. The narrative feels like a conversation with a girlfriend.....so many moments of wonder at the insights exhumed by self examination.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    I enjoyed reading this book. Jann makes good points in this book about her life so far. I have read other books by Jann and like them too. She is a very down to earth woman, a good singer and a great writer,for sure. I follow Jann on all media types and she writes good posts on them. I look forward to when she can restart her tour of Canada as I have a ticket to her concert where I live.

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