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.
I think what I most enjoyed about this book is what is most complicated about it. In the one-pager that came with it from the publicist* (Thanks Perigee!), it said
“Most journals, even the most private ones, are written with an audience in mind. The competing impulses—to share and to conceal—can result in some of the most frank, self-aware writing one could produce.”
And how true is this!? I keep a somewhat regular journal to de-stress and even though I write about a lot more than I should since I carry it around on a day-to-day basis with me, I know I don’t write everything I could. And this idea, the idea of writing everything down that I’ve always wanted to and then destroying the book was both anxiety provoking and cathartic.
I like on flipping through it that it’s divided into the past present and future. I noticed my mind editing what I “should” write versus what the answer was and it will be a huge exercise in self-trust and freedom to write what the real answers are to the questions/ideas and not the clean/edited version. I fully plan on writing whatever the hell I want in the book and then either locking it away in my safe (I’m not really sure about this, because what if something unfortunate happens and they open it when I’m gone) or destroying it (this is a different set of stress, but it could be really nice to see those words disappear into the ether).
Recommendation: Definitely check it out. Flip through it and see if you think you can (and will) be true to yourself and to the books ideals. If yes, then pick up a copy and enjoy the release. If no, then take some time to reflect on what you are already sharing with the world and how you can make that better.
Opening Line: “As adults we learn to focus on representing ourselves in a manner pleasing to others.
Closing Line: “Burn after writing?” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)
*I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher/publicist and received no compensation for my honest response.