Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Review: THE WORLD OF POSTSECRET, by Frank Warren
In 2004 Frank Warren started asking people to send him postcards with their secrets written on them. People responded in droves to the opportunity to participate in his public confessional, and he's received countless secrets since then, started an extremely popular website/blog (postsecret.com), traveled the world doing events and shows, and published five earlier books.
This book is several things. It's a collection of secrets, like the earlier five. It's also a look back at the project, now ten years old, containing reminisces by Warren and his mail carrier, and stories about controversies, victories, special secrets and more. He also discusses the fate of the PostSecret app, and what the future might hold for the project, hinting that he's looking for a successor to take it on.
I've always been fascinated by PostSecret and have made a habit of visiting his blog every Sunday to see the latest secrets. I think the project appeals to people on several levels. There's an aspect of voyeurism at wanting to see others' secrets. There's a wish to find out if someone else has the same secrets one has. (Am I the only one who...?) And there's the art itself, the beautiful and strange and wonderfully bizarre and personal images and messages that people take the time to produce. Finally, I think the project appeals to people not only as a way to express their own secrets but to see others reaching across the digital world, reaching out, and being that person who receives the message, like a message in a bottle.
The messages take all forms. Just about any secret you can think of, you will find on the website or in one of Warren's books. It makes you think how alike we all are, how we struggle with so many of the same things. Empathy is the biggest take-away, the chance to consider struggles from many different perspectives. I wonder about the stories behind the secrets, too. What compelled the person to share, what got him or her into the situation and how will it be resolved? What's it like to live with these secrets day to day? Probably, it's the same as it is for all of us to live with our secrets. Reading this book reminds you you're not alone no matter what you struggle with.
I recommend it to readers who like the confessional and the personal, and I also recommend it as a holiday gift for anyone for whom you bought Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half last year. It's the kind of thing that different kinds of people who enjoy on different levels, including a lot of people who wouldn't think of picking it up for themselves. It can kind of hang out on the coffee table or the nightstand and be the kind of book you pick through a little at a time, then return to in a quiet moment now and then, a book for introverts if you will. I liked it.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from HarperCollins.