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A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book Hardcover – October 9, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The award-winning PostSecret project's most profound and stunning postcards to date

For the past three years Frank Warren has invited people of all backgrounds and nationalities to send him creatively decorated postcards bearing secrets they have never before revealed. He has shared these PostSecrets on his award-winning blog, www.PostSecret.com, in an internationally traveling art exhibit, and in three electrifying books: the bestselling PostSecret, My Secret, and The Secret Lives of Men and Women.

Now, in his most extraordinary book yet, Warren again delves into our collective confessions, presenting a never-before-seen selection of provocative and moving PostSecrets. A Lifetime of Secrets lays bare our private fears, hopes, regrets, and desires, from people as young as eight and as old as eighty. From painful admissions of infidelity to breathtaking revelations and endearing sentiments, Warren's latest collection will shock and move readers of every age, revealing secrets that have haunted their creators for a lifetime.

Six PostSecrets from A Lifetime of Secrets

Here are six of the PostSecrets included in A Lifetime of Secrets, and never before seen online. Click on each image to see a larger version.

Frank Warren's Introduction to A Lifetime of Secrets

When I told my father I was collecting secrets from strangers for an art project, he didn’t know what to think. I tried to explain how the thousands of secrets that had been mailed to me were more than mere confessions. They could be beautiful, funny, sorrowful, inspiring.

"But, Frank," he asked, "why are you soliciting secrets from strangers, and why would anyone tell you a real secret?"

I invited my father to fly out for a PostSecret art exhibit in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of the postcards were on display. More than 15,000 people came to see the secrets, and my father was there, day after day, to hear many of their transformative stories. Some people told me they recognized a hidden part of themselves on a stranger’s postcard. Others shared personal experiences of how talking about a painful secret had helped heal a lifelong relationship.

The exhibit came to an end and I took my father back to the airport to catch a red-eye flight home. During our drive we passed through a long dark stretch of highway when my father broke the silence by asking me, "Do you want to know my secret?" He bravely recounted a traumatic childhood experience. When he finished, we had a true talk that gave me a richer understanding of my father and recast our relationship.

• • •

For A Lifetime of Secrets, the fourth PostSecret book, I've selected postcards that show how secrets can reveal a momentary impulse or haunt us for decades and arranged them by age to follow the common journey we all take through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity. Stretched over a full lifespan, the secrets expose the meaningful ways we change over time, and the surprising ways we don't.

The postcards narrate childhood stories that have never been spoken; they voice the guarded confessions of our parents and grandparents. They confirm that our rich interior lives are not defined by how old we are, and that with aging comes not only loss but also the possibility of grace and wisdom.

The following two secrets arrived in my mailbox the same week. The postmarks on each card were different, but when I posted them together on the PostSecret website (www.postsecret.com) they seemed as though they could have been written by the same person at two different points in her life.

I am a junior in high school. I have good friends and a loving family. I am smart. I am a good athlete and musician. But I would trade all that in if it meant I would be beautiful.
I spent my high school years believing I was UGLY. I just went through a photo album that had pictures of me over the last 20 years. Turns out I was/am kind of cute. No more wasting time on thinking otherwise.
• • •

When I give PostSecret presentations at college campuses, my hope is that people I have never met will be inspired to change their lives through the secrets and stories being shared. Not long ago, at one of my talks, it was my life that was changed, and the secret that inspired me came from a stranger in the front row.

I began my presentation by handing out blank postcards to everyone in the auditorium. I invited each person to anonymously write down a secret on a card and then pass it on. For the next hour, the postcards circulated and were read silently multiple times. At the end of my talk, I asked if anyone would like to stand and read the secret they were holding at that moment. A man in the front row stood up and haltingly read:

I wish I could apologize to my younger brother for the way I treated him growing up.
He sat down and exchanged a long look with the young man next to him. After more volunteers read aloud some of the other secrets that had been passed around, I collected all the cards. The man in the front row handed me the postcard he had read from, and the two men walked out together.

His postcard was blank.

I have witnessed many times how the courage of sharing a secret can be contagious. When I realized that the man had been pretending to read someone else’s secret and that the person he had left with was likely his brother, I was inspired.

Growing up, I was not an ideal older brother. As an adult, I have wished for an opportunity to apologize for some of my actions but did not want to open old wounds. I have not shared this secret with my brother . . . until now.

--Frank Warren


“A fascinating public airing of private thoughts. . . The range of efforts (meticulous, sloppy, artful, ponderous) will astound you.” (– TIME.com, "50 Coolest Websites of 2005")

“Humanity at its finest . . . And because of it I am falling in love with the world again.” (– A contributor on Postsecret.com)

“Standing in the midst of all this naked shame, guilt, anger and, yes, hope, you’re suddenly not so alone.” (Washington Post)

“[The postcards] are mini-works of art. All of them are riveting …” (USA Today)

“Warren has tapped something mystical.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Frank Warren gives the postcard unexpected lucency by reproducing hundreds of cards from an ongoing public art project … .” (Los Angeles Times)

“You’re bound to feel, after reading these things, something like a deity on the receiving end of the world’s prayers.” (Salon.com)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1St Edition edition (October 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061238600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061238604
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has an unusual history. It began as a community where people were encouraged to send in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. The key word - Anonymous. This struck a chord in many, allowing them a way to let loose a wealth of pent-up emotions and desires, from funny to grotesque. It also struck a chord in people who read the Blog site and watched videos of some of the secret scenarios.
From there, a series of books has emerged and this is the latest. Think of it - starting from anonymous postcards to build into a popular Blog and now this book.
Okay, I'm sure you want to know about the secrets in the book. Writing from a personal perspective, I got vicarious satisfaction from reading about urges that some people had (for revenge or to satisfy a desire) that I'd also shared. People wrote of having affairs for revenge, of unrequited love, of taking LSD at Disneyland and having sheer terror.
One of the most amazing things about this book? How touching it can be to read of all the hidden emotions that people rarely feel comfortable talking about -even to their closest friends. It is a confession, of sorts, sent out to the world. Some people have come forward and told me of postcards they've sent and of how "relieved" or "lighter" they'd felt afterwards so I think my confession analogy isn't off base - in some instances.
This is a fascinating and evolving community and project and the book is a rare chance to get a glimpse of what is often hidden behind social conventions. I urge you to have a look at this one!
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Format: Hardcover
Have you ever told a stranger something that no one else knows about you? I often think that's the main purpose of sitting on long airplane flights: Confiding in strangers makes secret burdens emotionally lighter.

Frank Warren obviously understands that point and provides a needed outlet for those who can't even tell a stranger . . . but feel comfortable sending in a postcard with their secret on it. I'm sure thousands of people are walking a little lighter.

Much like watching a film of a disaster, you'll be counting your blessings as you review these often deeply painful admissions. In that way, your own secrets won't seem so heavy. I suspect that those with unshared secrets can benefit from both sharing and reading what others have shared. Many thanks to Frank Warren for coming up with this unique form of self-therapy.

It would be fascinating to ask people in a few years to send in another postcard to describe how sending the original one affected their lives.
One of the last postcards in the book explores that point: "i used to write my secrets on postcards that were never posted now i tell them to real people that know and care about me thanks, postsecret and goodbye"

My main caution is that I'm not sure how someone who is severely depressed and suicidal might react to this book. Some of the postcards reflect that condition, and someone inclined that way might find encouragement in reading what others have said.

From the point of view of wanting to understand others better, I was glad to learn about some secrets people hide that I wasn't aware of. I'll be more careful in the future about what I say on those subjects.
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Format: Hardcover
Until I read this book, I only knew PostSecret from Frank Warren's blog which is on my weekly must-read list. I had resisted buying the previous books in the series because so often what's intriguing a few at a time becomes cloying when presented in a book.

This was not the case with A LIFETIME OF SECRETS: A POSTSECRET BOOK. I couldn't put it down until I'd read it through, and it left me feeling introspective and deeply connected.

For those not familiar with PostSecret, it began as a community art project in which Frank Warren ("America's most trusted stranger") invited people to send in secrets on decorated postcards. Every week he posts twenty of these anonymous postcards on his blog, PostSecret.com; a collection has traveled internationally as an art exhibit; and this is the fourth book of collected secrets.

So many heart-rending postcards! People share their alienation, anger, fear, desire, and even pride. Why do they send their secrets to Frank? Would you? Have you? I haven't (and won't), but something about the secrets has huge sympathetic appeal. There's nothing new in human nature and we all carry the seeds of all these secrets. Some resonate in us more than others, but can you really say that any of the feelings expressed are completely alien?

A LIFETIME OF SECRETS is the fourth book in the series. It's arranged roughly by the age of the secret-sharer, and this theme is certainly effective; you can, however, open it to any page and count on feeling a sense of kinship with the writer. I hope to keep this book for a while and will probably turn its pages many times. It's inevitable that some day I'll hear a friend mention something and I'll say, there's this book I HAVE to share with you; and they'll share it with someone else and I'll never see it again. And that's as it should be. (My secret: I hardly ever return books people lend me!)
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