Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A book for journal writers

How to be an explorer of the world (2008)
Keri Smith
208 pages

When I was eleven years old my mother gave me a diary to write my thoughts in. It was small, white, and one of those diaries you're supposed to write in every day. I remember being in sixth grade and writing in that small book often about crushes, school, and family life. I don't know what made my mother give me a diary but I'm glad she did.

Since then I've kept diaries. Over the years those diaries have changed in size, shape, and purpose. Currently I write in large sketchbooks that can handle glue, paint, different kinds of pens, and whatever else I feel like using. My journal is more than just an account of my everyday life; it's a commonplace book filled with quotes, prayers, collages, blog entries, book reviews, lists, pictures, newspaper clippings, recipes. . . I've always thought of my journal as a field guide to my life. You can pick up any of the many journals I have and know who I was at that time.

So you can imagine my excitement when I found out about Keri Smith's latest book, How to Be An Explorer of the World. Keri, if you don't know, is the genius behind Wreck this Journal, a book that is suppose to help readers start or finish their journals with creative prompts. I bought How to be an explorer and decided to test it out. The goal of the book is to get you to notice your surroundings, savor the moment, and to focus on who you are.

Two of my favorite prompts were to describe in detail my favorite street and the library exploration prompt:

Choose a subject, theme, or item. Go to a library. Conduct research on your chosen item. Collect as many different materials as you can to display later, such as sketches, notes, drawings, and photos. . .

My problem with the book is that I didn't realize it's for beginners. A lot of the prompts are great but are things I've done many times before like the consumer prompt which asks for you to keep track of all the things you consume for a week. It's a great prompt for someone who hasn't used it before. Overall it's a great read and perfect for anyone who wishes to start journaling.


serendipity_viv said...

This book sounds right up my street. I don't do a journal, but my scrapbooks are kind of photographic journals. I like the sound of the Wreck the journal one too. Will definitely look into getting them. Thanks for posting this one.

Andi said...

Sounds like a great book for those journalers like me who have a problem actually journaling!! My blog has turned into a much more representative "journal" than my written ones, and that's a shame. The ones we can hold and flip through are so special.

Ana S. said...

I also start journalling at that age and I've never gone back :) I can't imagine not writing. A lot of it is not an account of my day or anything like that, but...it's what you said. It's a guide to who I am.

Iliana said...

I'm the same way with my journals - they are a collection of my life.

I really enjoyed your review. I've been a big fan of Keri Smith's blog for years now and love her book "Living Out Loud". It's one I turn to a few times throughout the year.

Sorry to hear the book wasn't as in-depth as you had hoped for but it still sounds like fun. I'll have to try to look for this next time I'm at the bookstore.

Vasilly said...

Scrap girl: I like that you call your scrapbooks photographic journals. I add a lot of pictures to my journals.

Andi: I agree. Sometimes I write more on my blog than I do in my journal.

Nymeth: Journals are the best things next to books.

Iliana: I haven't read Living Out Loud though I'll probably get to it soon. Keri's book makes me want to write my own book on journaling.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I can see where you'd need a more advanced version. ;) This does sound great for the beginner.

claire said...

I've been following Keri Smith on her blog where I saw this book.. good to see a reader's opinion of it.. thanks.