Book notes: So Much I Want to Tell You by Anna Akana

So Much I Want to Tell You by Anna Akana book review summary and key ideas.

So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister by Anna Akana


“From Internet sensation Anna Akana comes a candid and poignant collection of essays about love, loss, and chasing adulthood.

In 2007, Anna Akana lost her teen sister, Kristina, to suicide. In the months that followed, she realized that the one thing helping her process her grief and begin to heal was comedy. So she began making YouTube videos as a form of creative expression and as a way to connect with others. Ten years later, Anna has more than a million subscribers who watch her smart, honest vlogs on her YouTube channel. Her most popular videos, including “How to Put On Your Face” and “Why Girls Should Ask Guys Out”, are comical and provocative, but they all share a deeper message: Your worth is determined by you and you alone. You must learn to love yourself.

Opening thoughts:

I picked up this book because I saw it under audible recommends. I recognized this girl because I’ve seen a few of her videos on YouTube and she’s an influencer in her space. The videos were really good and thought-provoking. Also, I want to be a famous YouTuber so might as well read a book by one haha. Oh and she’s cute AF.

Key notes:

Part 1: Creativity

  • Find your voice
    • Most successful people will tell you to follow your dreams
    • She’d say “fall into them” because she fell into hers
  • She did stand up for a year but started to hate it and have anxiety
    • Eventually, she wandered into YouTube as an alternative to having to deal with being out and with people, but still pursuing comedy
  • Her video making process:
    • First: Topic
      • She starts with a topic that she’s passionate about or interested in exploring, or makes her angry or sad
    • Next: Title
      • The perfect title is one that encapsulates what the video is about
      • A title sets up your audience’s expectations
      • It is your thesis statement, your promise about what you’re going to deliver
      • The best titles also imply that the audience is going to learn something
    • Next: Script
      • Her videos are structured as long monologues with cutaways to either
        • a) demonstrate or emphasize a point
        • b) directly oppose it for the sake of a joke
        • c) answer a posed question
  • She spent a lot of time self-reflecting and writing in her journal to capture and to remember whatever emotional upset she was going through so she could turn it into her weekly video
  • After 2.5 years, she had hundreds of thousands of subscribers
  • Once you’ve found your voice, let it evolve
    • After trying to explore herself creatively and changing her video format, she began to second guess when she started to lose viewers
    • But she realized that she didn’t make a mistake
      • Trying new things is the best thing any artist can do
      • It is hard and you’ll fail a lot
        • But if you’re not failing, you’re not learning
  • She’s always worried that she’ll run out of topics to talk about
    • But she says you’ll only run out of ideas if you close yourself off to things:
      • new ideas
      • experiences
      • people
    • Don’t be afraid to change, to grow, and to learn
      • That’s the only way to keep yourself creatively vital
If you want to be the star, create the show
  • her advice: make your own stuff
    • You don’t need millions of subscribers or billions of views
      • You just need the right person to see your work, and even if that doesn’t happen for a long time, you’ll be a better creator for it
  • Don’t wait, make your own opportunities
    • There’s no better time to start than today
The only way to start is to start
  • Deciding to do something is the easy part
    • The hard part is finding the time to do it and then to keep doing it
  • The best way to combat laziness or discouragement is to create a routine
    • Your body and mind will start to follow the routine naturally
  • It’s called work for a reason
  • Ideas are a dime a dozen
  • Ideas come from stimulation and thinking
    • Read books
    • Watch TV
    • Explore the world around you
    • Take walks
    • Think about bringing two seemingly different concepts together
    • Be observant and pay attention to how people interact and what’s going on in the world
  • Write “what if” lists
    • Most of her short film ideas come from these
  • What’s more important than knowing where ideas come from is knowing when ideas are bad
    • It’s okay if it sucks
    • Analyze why something sucks and how you can do better rather than focusing on the negative
  • Sometimes it’s helpful to give yourself permission to suck
    • It takes the pressure off
Fail more
  • All successful people have a trail of failures behind them
  • Failure is so many wonderful things:
    • It’s motivation to do better next time
    • A learning opportunity to see what you did wrong
    • Ultimately, the proof that at least you tried
You are not your art
  • Detach your self-worth from what you create
  • Try to find your value in what you are doing for people in the world
    • In who you are in your everyday life
    • In what your actions say about the kind of person you are
    • Your life is defined by what you do in the here and now, not by what you create
Develop a thick skin
  • Try and think about who is on the other end of  nasty comment online

Part 2: Identity

  • Knowing who you are and what you believe in is the first step toward taking control of your life
  • Her decision to not be a hypocrite for a contradiction lead her two finally taking antidepressants which really helped her out a lot
    • It didn’t cure her depression, but it did make her life a lot easier and dramatically changed it for the better
Succeed because of your race, not despite it
  • It’s OK to want to be beautiful as long as it is your definition of beauty
  • Best beauty advice: enhance your strengths, tweak the weaknesses
    • Beauty is about making yourself feel good and confident
      • Not conforming to a look
    • Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But the only beholder that matters is you
You can’t treat an emotional problem physically
  • For the longest time, she had a binge eating problem

Part 3: Money, Work, Career

More money, more independence
  • She took a lot of odd jobs but couldn’t keep up with her debt
    • Eventually she read a lot of books and learned about personal finances
  • Best money advice ever received from her CPA:
    • You should only ever spend your money in 2 ways:
      1. If it’s going to help you grow your business
      2. If it’s going to make your life easier
On being an Internet personality
  • There’s a fine line between analyzing data and being obsessed with it
    • Between creating assets for social media and being vain or craving validation
    • Between creating art and pandering
  • For anyone who wants to become an Internet celebrity, her best advice is to remember that the Internet isn’t technically real
  • Social media is a lie. It is what we want people to see
    • We curate our lives so that they look fabulous from the outside
    • We only show what we want to show
  • Remember that the world we can see is the one that really matters
How to be a boss
  • When you’re a boss, you need to give yourself permission
  • Take care of your people
    • Being a boss means being a leader. The best leaders take care of their people
  • Your team is only as good as the person who cares the least, so it is important that everyone cares as much about the end product as you do
  • Rules of a good boss:
    • Compensate fairly and pay promptly
    • Feed people well and often
    • Show your appreciation verbally
    • Be clear and direct about your expectations
    • Know how to utilize the talents of those around you
    • Don’t waste anyone’s time
    • Be a pleasure to work with
  • Crunch the numbers
  • Stand up for yourself. No one else is going to
  • Don’t sign anything unless you understand what it means
  • Do every job
    • Digital media creators have to do every job out of necessity
  • Work hard, work smart
  • Know your shit
  • Always be prepared. Visualization works. It just means you think about what you’re going to do before you do it 
  • If you don’t know how to do something, find someone who does
  •  Time is 1000 times more valuable than your money

Part 4: Relationships

  •  Nothing teaches you more about yourself than a broken heart
  •  You don’t realize how important friends are until you’re friendless
  •  You can’t force a friendship
    • You can put yourself out there, but don’t worry because it is something that will come naturally over time through shared experience and circumstance
  • It is OK to cut toxic people out of your life
  • If he doesn’t listen, ditch him
  • Take your birth control
  • Find someone who will inspire you to become a better person
    • Who will make you laugh even if you don’t feel like it
    • Who is good to you no matter how tough things are
    • Strive to be that person for them
  • Choose life
  • The only things that matter are the ones that you decide matter
    • It’s up to you to choose what to do with the time you’re given
  • Whenever someone complains about how old they are, she reminds them that age is a privilege
    • Not everyone gets to grow old. Cherish it

Themes / Main ideas:

  • Don’t follow your dreams, fall into them
  • Find your voice and let it evolve
  • Don’t be afraid to change, to grow, and to learn
  • If you want to be the star, create the show
  • The only way to start is to start
  • The best way to combat laziness or discouragement is to create a routine
  • Fail more
  • You are not your art
  • Develop a thick skin
  • Knowing who you are and what you believe in is the first step toward taking control of your life
  • Succeed because of your race, not despite it
  • You can’t treat an emotional problem physically
  • Spend money for 2 reasons: grow your business or make your life easier
  • Remember that the internet technically isn’t real
  • Take care of your people
  • Know your shit, do every job
  • Always be prepared
  • Time is 1000x more valuable than your money
  • It is OK to cut toxic people out of your life
  • Find someone who will inspire you to become a better person
  • Age is a privilege. Not everyone gets to grow old.

Closing thoughts:

I loved this book and was exactly what I needed to hear. Anna Akana gives such a fresh perspective that I don’t usually hear about in my books. Although most of the books I’ve read were written by men, the ones written by women have had a significant impact on my life.

I really enjoy how real, authentic, and vulnerable Anna is with her reader. She inspires me to finally launch my own YouTube channel that I’ve been prepared to start at the beginning of 2019. But I’m glad that she goes back and forth between practical advice and her own story/journey to where she is. I also love the themes and ideas that are applicable not only to young women, but all people.

Other great books written by women authors that have changed my life:


Anna Akana shares her hard-earned life lessons on creativity, identity, career, and relationships.



6 thoughts on “Book notes: So Much I Want to Tell You by Anna Akana”

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed this post and my blog 🙂 I love hearing from my readers.

      If you have any suggestions that would make my notes more helpful, feel free to let me know.


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