PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

by Frank Warren


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New York Times Bestseller

The project that captured a nation's imagination.

The instructions were simple, but the results were extraordinary.

You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything — as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative.

It all began with an idea Frank Warren had for a community art project. He began handing out postcards to strangers and leaving them in public places — asking people to write down a secret they had never told anyone and mail it to him, anonymously.

The response was overwhelming. The secrets were both provocative and profound, and the cards themselves were works of art — carefully and creatively constructed by hand. Addictively compelling, the cards reveal our deepest fears, desires, regrets, and obsessions. Frank calls them "graphic haiku," beautiful, elegant, and small in structure but powerfully emotional.

As Frank began posting the cards on his website, PostSecret took on a life of its own, becoming much more than a simple art project. It has grown into a global phenomenon, exposing our individual aspirations, fantasies, and frailties — our common humanity.

Every day dozens of postcards still make their way to Frank, with postmarks from around the world, touching on every aspect of human experience. This extraordinary collection brings together the most powerful, personal, and beautifully intimate secrets Frank Warren has received — and brilliantly illuminates that human emotions can be unique and universal at the same time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060899196
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/29/2005
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 86,216
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 10.25(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

Frank Warren started PostSecret as a community art project where he invited total strangers to anonymously mail in their secrets on a homemade postcard. This simple act sparked a global phenomenon. Frank has received over 1 million secrets in his mailbox with more arriving every day but Sunday. has won seven Webby Awards and is the most visited advertisement-free blog in the world. The postcards have been curated for five New York Times bestselling books and have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the American Visionary Art Museum. Frank has traveled the world sharing secrets and stories from Australia to the White house. There is a PostSecret album, a PostSecret TED Talk and a PostSecret Play on tour. In 2011 Frank was awarded the ‘HopeLine Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his work on suicide prevention and was invited to the White House to work on issues of mental wellness. Frank lives in Germantown, Maryland, with his wife and daughter.

Read an Excerpt


Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
By Frank Warren

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Frank Warren
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060899190


In November 2004, I printed 3,000 postcards inviting people to share a secret with me: something that was true, something they had never told anyone. I handed out these cards at subway stations, I left them in art galleries, and I slipped them between the pages of library books. Then, slowly, secrets began to find their way to my mailbox.

After several weeks I stopped passing out postcards but secrets kept coming. Homemade postcards made from cardboard, old photographs, wedding invitations, and other personal items artfully decorated arrived from all over the world. Some of the secrets were written in Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, and even Braille.

One of the first PostSecrets I received looked like nothing more than a worn postcard filled with two shopping lists. But squeezed into the corner was a soulful admission, "I am still struggling with what I've become."

Like fingerprints, no two secrets are identical, but every secret has a story behind it. From the clues on this card, I imagined that this person had an internal struggle about sharing the secret. It was so difficult that they tried to use up the postcard as a shopping list, twice. But the urge to reconcile with a painful personal truth was so strong that they were ultimately able to find the courage to share it.

Secrets have stories; they can also offer truths. After seeing thousands of secrets, I understand that sometimes when we believe we are keeping a secret, that secret is actually keeping us. A New Zealander recently wrote the following about what they had learned from the PostSecret project, "The things that make us feel so abnormal are actually the things that make us all the same."

I invite you to contemplate each of the shared secrets in these pages: to imagine the stories behind the personal revelations and to search for the meaning they hold. As you read these postcards you may not only be surprised by what you learn about others, but also reminded of your own secrets that have been hiding. That is what happened to me.

After reading one particular PostSecret, I was reminded of a childhood humiliation -- something that happened to me more than thirty years ago. I never thought of it as a secret, yet I had never told anyone about it. From a memory that felt fresh, I chose my words carefully and expressed my secret on a postcard. I shared it with my wife and daughter. The next day, I went to the post office, and physically let it go into a mailbox. I walked away feeling lighter.

I like to think that this project germinated from that secret I kept buried for most of my life. At a level below my awareness, I needed to share it, but I was not brave enough to do it alone. So I found myself inviting others at galleries and libraries to first share their secrets with me. And when their postcards found me, I was able to find the courage to identify my secret and share it too.

We all have secrets: fears, regrets, hopes, beliefs, fantasies, betrayals, humiliations. We may not always recognize them but they are part of us -- like the dreams we can't always recall in the morning light.

Some of the most beautiful postcards in this collection came from very painful feelings and memories. I believe that each one of us has the ability to discover, share, and grow our own dark secrets into something meaningful and beautiful.

-- Frank


Excerpted from PostSecret by Frank Warren Copyright © 2005 by Frank Warren. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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PostSecret 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
DeDeFlowers More than 1 year ago
I got this as a gift about four years ago and still look at it every couple months. I love Post Secret books. It's amazing how touching and relatable they are, yet at the same time, how funny they are. Post Secret books make excellent gifts and are great to have in the living room to start conversation. Anyone can relate to these.
BookClubberLB More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing conversation piece-place it on your coffee table and your friends will not be able to resist! Some secrets are humorous, some are tacky and some are touching. At work we borrowed the theme and ideas from this book by asking people to post their 'secrets', we then used these post cards to advertise and bring attention and focus to important topics. We debriefed afterward and realized the complexity of our environment and the small details one can often overlook. It is amazing the quality conversations that can come from a simple testimonial post card. This is a great idea and a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The post secret books are amazing! If you've ever had a secret (and we all have,) that you couldn't share with any one and it made you feel like you were alone in the universe, this book is for you! Some secrets are funny, some ironic, and some are very very sad, but they're all real. A lot of the cards by themselves are beautiful. It's the kind of book that makes the world feel a little smaller...
jessNC More than 1 year ago
I am addicted to these books, but this one was short compared to some of the other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was enlightening, inspiring, and motivating. I really enjoyed reading all the different postcards. I enjoy sharing them with friends and family. This book has really touched me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I serendipitously discovered this book one day.Read it through in one sitting amazed. These days, I've been really depressed about life and myself. I returned to this book, and it made me feel completely human...which is a blessing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love postsecret. it is an amazing way to feel connected to others and to know that even if you feel alone in the world, you are truly not alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book, good for a coffee table or something to just flip through.
lds711 More than 1 year ago
What I find most interesting about this book is the variety of lives and secrets that are revealed. It's not just a book about sorrow or friendship or self loathing or true love. It's a combination of these and many more and they juxtapose one another in exciting ways. A postcard about cheating might be next to one about eating disorders or having never been in love with a life partner. So many voices are heard. Each thought is expressed with an eclectic collage of the secret teller's creation. No two secrets are the same and if there is a slight overlap in theme, the accompanying image is completely different. The real power in the book is the anonymity. It allows the reader to feel intimate with the secret teller and relate to a thought without exposing either person. I defy anyone to read this and not share at least one secret. This is a stunning piece of work.
KIDDISSA More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these PostSecret books - I have several for my coffee table. Everyone who visits always enjoys looking through them, and it gives one a weird sense of peace to read other's secrets (except for the disturbing ones - not peace, then). :)
lefthome1979 More than 1 year ago
The post-secret books are fabulous. They let you delve into the minds of complete strangers so that you are able to realize that your problems are not just your problems. Other people, everywhere else in the world, share your problems and then you don't feel quite so alone anymore. Some are funny and offer a laugh. Others are shocking and make you want to know the story behind them.
Jerz More than 1 year ago
Once you pick it up you will be intrigued. I bought this as a gift for a friend as well. Have read the others and look forward to the newest PostSecret due out later this year (Oct 09)
Fliss88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved the idea behind this book. 'Tell me a secret that you have never told anyone else, as long as it is true', and sit back and let others write your book for you. There are some amazingly, gut wrenching secrets here.
LesaHolstine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 2004, Frank Warren started the PostSecret project, asking people to share their secrets with him by sending them on postcards. Since then, he's received over four hundred thousand postcards, many of them anonymous. People have bared their souls, revealing secrets they never told anyone about their feelings and their lives. Naturally, they're short, usually one or two lines since they're on a postcard. But, all of the secrets of the world can be revealed in those lines. There are stories that will make you smile, even more that will break your heart, and so many that will make you think of your own life. Some stories stay with you once you read it. A co-worker has always remembered an early postcard, "I am a Southern Baptist Pastor's Wife. No one knows that I do not believe in God." It must have been a powerful message because it's included in the Foreward to this book.Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Founder and Director of the American Visionary Art Museum, wrote the forward since she asked Warren to curate a PostSecret mini-exhibition in conjunction with a show, "All Faiths Beautiful: From Atheism to Zoroastrianism, Respect for Diversity of Belief." This book is the result, a small book with powerful messages.Everyone will be struck by different messages, depending on your own life. I do know it feels voyeuristic peering into other people's secrets. But, show this book, or any other PostSecret book, to a friend, and they'll be hooked. My favorite postcards in this book are my favorites because my father died when he was only 59. One says, "Sometimes when my dad tells me stories I've already heard, I can't help but think about how much I'll miss hearing them when he's gone. I love you, Dad." And, the other is, "If I died today, would there be anything you wish you had said to me?" College students and other young adults are big fans of the PostSecret books. They're for all audiences, but think of them as a gift for a young adult.Religion, death, sex, families. All of these secrets have been revealed to Frank Warren, and, through Warren, to all of us. They're beautiful, tragic, sad, funny. And, they will move you. They're our lives, with the latest peek in PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God.
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've followed PostSecret via the LiveJournal feed for about two years now, and it's one of the wonderful things about Sunday mornings: take a peek into other people's lives, and perhaps see a bit of myself in the process. This is my first PostSecret book, and I was very happy to get it for Christmas.The secrets are profound. It's impossible to choose favorites, but here are a few that struck a chord with me."I can't kill myself because I'm worried the kids with Autism I work with will wonder where I am.""When I cook alone, I always pretend I'm cooking for The Food Network (audience and all...)""I can't go to an Atlanta Falcons game because it reminds me of my grandpa.""I never feared death -- until I became a mom."The artwork along with the cards is often beautiful, adding to the depth of the secret. This is a quick read, but a very good one. I intend to keep it around and perhaps use some of the secrets as writing prompts. As the Sunday comments show, there are a dozen ways to interpret each secret, and not one of them may be correct... but we'll never know.
she_climber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the exhibit that I had to get the books. So interesting and at times shocking.
JNSelko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fake "secrets" are leaking in, some of them (especially ones concerning sex) have in circulation for years. That's too bad- what once was a cathartic experience is turning into a freak show.
IandSsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could be the voyeur in me but I just love these! I live for Sun when the new ones come out! The book was fun. Some are funny some are sad but they make you think!
realbigcat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Everyone knows the premis of this book is to contribute an anonymous post card containing a secret. I can be a regret or a confession to something. Maybe something that humiliated you or a great regret in life. This simple project brings out that desire in everyone to know a secret. I must say this book is fascinating but not surprising. it is a very fast read and you can't put the book down. You can't help but be moved by theses confessions.
Canadian_Down_Under on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book may not be for everyone. I read some of the entries to my husband and he was quite uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, found a wonderful freedom about this book. To read about other people's secrets, secrets that were funny or sad or guilty or vengeful etc etc, made me more comfortable about my own secrets. And we all have them - things that we did or had done to us or things we thought or wished for, things we could never tell anybody else because WHAT WOULD PEOPLE THINK OF ME?I guarantee that you will identify with at least a few people in this book and there is something nice about knowing you aren't the only one who feels that way.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
PostSecret the book is an outgrowth of the website of the same title. Originally meaning to collect the postcards for a community art project, the author left blank postcards in public places, asking people to reveal a secret creatively on a postcard and mail it back to him. Since then, the author has continued to receive thousands of these unique postcards. Some of the secrets revealed aren¿t particularly secretive; some are humorous; most are sad (the number of secrets involving someone who was raped or molested is a tragic commentary on our society). Each postcard provides an intriguing interplay between text and visuals, as the postcards contain art of all kinds (collage, photograph, sketch, etc.). The book is engrossing and easily read in one sitting (in fact, I read four of the series in one night). The downside is that some of the postcards are blown up for a spread but the book¿s pages come together too close to easily read what¿s in the center. In addition, most pages fit at least two postcards, some of which are the front and back of the same postcard and some of which are two completely different postcards (and it is not always immediately clear which one of these two scenarios is presented).
a_crezo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll be interviewing Frank Warren in November. To prepare, I've decided to read all the books, including the one he's on tour for now. While he doesn't actually write the books, he does compile them, and it is because of his genius little experiment that we all get to be voyeurs into the minds of our peers. So I borrowed this from a girl at work who demanded that I give it back immediately. Lucky for her I read it overnight, or else I'd still have it. It's on my list of books to buy now.
Anagarika-Sean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love these books. Will mine show up in them one day?
Borg-mx5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An emotionally charged book. The author asked for and collected post cards where people were to write a secret about themselves. People can be painfully honest and painfuly sad. It is amazing what we think.