Friday, February 17, 2012

This is Not a Book! by Keri Smith

A curious, engaging, and creative rethinking of what a book can be, from the creator of Wreck this Journal.

In this uniquely skewed look at the purpose and function of "a book," Keri Smith offers an illustrated guide that asks readers to creatively examine all the different ways This Is Not a Book can be used. With intriguing prompts, readers will discover that the book can be:

  • A secret message-tear out a page, write a note on it for a stranger, and leave it in a public place.
  • A recording device-have everyone you contact today write their name in the book.
  • An instrument-create as many sounds as you can using the book, like flipping the pages fast or slapping the cover.
This Is Not a Book will engage readers by having them define everything a book can be by asking, "If it's not a book, what is it?" - with a kaleidoscope of possible answers.

In January, I read this post on Cheri's Chatter that got me curious about making a Smash Book or Junk Journal, so I went on-line in search of more information.  I found the Smash Books (scrapbooking for the non-scrapbooker) and ordered Amanda and I each one.  It's still sitting on my dresser, untouched, because... as I was surfing, I also found This is Not a Book by Keri Smith.  I ordered two copies of it and Amanda and I are completing them as a mother/daughter project.  (We'll get to the Smash Books later.)

As the blurb says, each page of This is Not a Book declares something else that it could be.  Some are writing exercises:  "This is a time machine. Describe a time in your life you would like to go back and relive"* or "This is a plot to rule the world.  If I could take over the world, I would make the following changes..."** Some are more active: "This is a factory that makes very small books" (followed by a template to cut out, fold and form into a very small book then fill with whatever content you want), or "This is a Random Adventure.  Go outside, walk until you see something red...." Some are just potentially embarrassing (I haven't done these yet, obviously):  "This is a performance.  Select a piece of writing you really like and read it out loud where others can hear you."

One of the first pages instructs you to develop a disguise for your not-a-book.  So, what began as 2 plain red books (see image above) have now been disguised using stickers, wrapping paper, a napkin, markers, and a C.J. Banks shopping bag - among other things.  I can't post a picture because then it would no longer be a disguise, right?

This is Not a Book is fun, creative and makes you think "outside the box".  Have you stretched your creativity lately?  

*In case you are wondering, I chose for my time machine page to transport me to the summer of 1993.  Mitch and Amanda were 2 and 1; I was a stay-at-home mom; my best friend, Wanda, was still living and was just a mile down the road.  I was needed, life was simple and, though the house we lived in was a dump, I was happy!

**If I ruled the world I would: Remove all "reality" tv shows from the airwaves; disband political parties; outlaw Facebook; and name Tim Gunn Supreme Commander of the World and we would all live more peaceful, gracious lives.

Ms. Smith has also created "Finish This Book" which will definitely be our next project.

Dear Reader,
One dark and stormy night, author Keri Smith found some strange scattered pages abandoned in a park. She collected and assembled them, trying to solve the mystery of this unexpected discovery, and now, she's passing the task on to you, her readers.
I collected and assembled them, trying to solve the mystery of this unexpected discovery, and am now passing the task on to you.
Your mission is to become the new author of this work. You will continue the research and provide the content. In order to complete the task, you will have to undergo some secret intelligence training, which is included in this volume. Since no one knows what lies ahead, please proceed with caution, but know...this book does not exist without you.
Yours truly,
Keri Smith


  1. I have Wreck this Journal but I didn't get very far with it. Great ideas for those motivated though.

  2. Love this! I've mentioned before that I'm a Keri Smith fan and have both of these books. You've inspired me to take a closer look at them this weekend. Thanks!

    As for outlawing all reality TV shows, I say "Amen". ;)

  3. I bought this and her first book "Wreck This Journal", I have two nieces and this one is geared towards the 13 yr old. It's heavy on the list making side, things like list 5 things you would change about the world or list 10 things you see outside your window. Some of the lists were interesting and some just fun or silly but a child younger than 13 may not be interested in spending time compiling this information. I don't have kids but I think this is a great tool for this age group as they explore their identities and their place in society. This is not self help but its thought provoking and interesting. This book is very different from the first which was really about finding interesting way to destroy the journal but it does have fun challenges in it like leave this book outside overnight.

  4. Ooh! I'm so intrigued by this one. I love creative things like this and what a bonus for you to be sharing the fun :)