Book Review: PostSecret

In November 2004, a man named Frank Warren started an experiment that, at the time, seemed like a good idea. Warren printed out 3,000 postcards. On one side, he invited people to share a secret, something true that they had never told anyone before. The other side was completely blank. He passed these postcards out to people, leaving them in random places, sometimes even between the pages of a library book. He had no idea that the blank canvases he gave to complete strangers would catch on to become an international art project. Long after he stopped passing out postcards, secrets continued to find their way into his mailbox. To date, Warren has received over 150,000 anonymous secrets.
Since then, he has uploaded secrets every Sunday on the PostSecret blog (http://www.postsecret.com). It has become a ritual for many to view the blog on a regular basis. Some participants even send Warren e-mails sharing their own stories about a particular secret they saw posted or they offer words of encouragement to the anonymous author of a postcard.
A weekly dose of 20 or so secrets soon became too little for the loyal PostSecret fan base. As a result, in 2005 Warren published the first PostSecret book. Self-titled, this nearly 300-page book offered hundreds of never-before-seen secrets. This book was followed by two more of its kind, though a little smaller than the original. ‘The Secret Lives of Men’ and ‘Women, and My Secret’ fueled the fire that PostSecret had created in many people’s hearts. Warren still receives dozens of secrets a day and has started creating video posts of secrets (which replace one of the usual Sunday updates of the blog). The PostSecret community also recently launched (http://www.postsecretcommunity.com), which provides an interactive forum for PostSecret fans to share and see each other’s secrets. With audio, video and chat options, the PostSecret Community bridges the distant gaps between PostSecret’s international followers.
In his new book that was recently released, ‘A Lifetime of Secrets,’ Warren gathers secrets and arranges them in chronological order based on the age of the sender. Starting with secrets from childhood, spanning through the rough teenage years, reaching middle age and then finally on to the seniors, the secrets come together like a story of one’s life with humor, betrayal and unexpressed love.
In actuality, it is this quality that makes the PostSecret phenomenon so successful. No matter where you are or how old you are, there is someone facing the same challenges. When people share their insecurities and darkest secrets they’ve never been able to express before, it provides the opportunity for millions of people to relate to them.
What sets ‘A Lifetime of Secrets’ apart from the other PostSecret books and the Web site is the unique way it has been put together. Children as young as eight and adults as old as 80 have shared their deepest fears, regrets, hopes and dreams; for instance, tales are told of heartbreaking admissions of infidelity and struggles with hovering insecurities. The raw emotions, dark humor and chilling confessions lead the reader to think about similar secrets he may have while also getting the chance to step into the shoes of the people who found the courage to share a bit of their lives with the world.
A great book for PostSecret fans and for those who have never heard of it, ‘A Lifetime of Secrets’ is worth picking up. Even if you only flip a few pages, you will be struck by the depth of the secrets people have shared. An art project that has turned into a heartfelt international phenomenon, PostSecret has something to offer people of all ages.