I am a fan of Keri Smith’s books. They’re not novels, they’re journals or activity books of sorts. I think they get called “anti-journaling”? Among her most famous titles are:
- Wreck This Journal
- This Is Not a Book
- Finish This Book
- Guerilla Art Kit
- How to Be an Explorer of the World
- Tear Up This Book
- The Imaginary World of (Your Name Here)
- The Pocket Scavenger
- Wreck This Journal Everywhere
- This Is Not a Journal
- Living Out Loud
And her newest:
- The Wander Society
I’ve actually only ever done the first one, which is the most famous, Wreck This Journal, though I have This is Not a Book waiting on the shelf. I haven’t even finished Wreck This Journal, but I love the process and I always wish I had more time to do it. Not that it takes much time, but you have to have some commitment to do whatever crazy thing the book requires of you next. So how to explain what Keri Smith’s books are, if you don’t already know… From her website: “The main focus of her work/research is on creating what the writer Umberto Eco called ‘open works,’ pieces that are completed by the reader/user.” I don’t know which came first, the chicken or Keri Smith, but there are plenty of other anti-journaling concepts out there: you buy a book of prompts and some illustrations and you do what it says to complete the “artwork” on each page. This circumvents people’s fear of a blank page. And in Smith’s case, it gets them to do creative and outside-the-box things because her specialty goes way beyond journaling prompts to, well, creative experiences. On page one of Wreck This Journal it tells you to address the journal to yourself and send it through the mail. I can remember finger painting on a page, collecting fruit stickers, rubbing dirt in the thing, making a paper airplane with one of the pages, dropping it from my balcony, and even walking it around the neighborhood/dragging it tied to a string. Personally, I find all this really enjoyable and freeing, so long as you don’t go online and look at other peoples’ postings of their journal pages. This should not be a competition. This should be, like I said, enjoyable and freeing.
Alright, but that’s not even what I’m talking about, is it? I’m reviewing a specific book, an anti-planner, that I bought to see if I wanted to use it this year. As a planner. Let’s just say this first: this is not the planner I decided to go with. That does not mean that you wouldn’t. I am crazy for organization and landed on dot/bullet journaling (see HERE for a review). What appealed to me about the Non-Planner Datebook, though, was exactly a removal of myself from the organization overload, a more fluid, hippy way to approach my calendar. I mean, honestly, the Pandemic has left my last two, hefty planners looking a little silly with whole days and weeks and months with barely anything on them. And I know plenty of people don’t over-plan the way I do.
Here are the pros of The Non-Planner Datebook:
- It is small and thin, easy to carry around with you.
- It encourages creativity and outside-the-box moments (though not nearly as much or as creatively as many of her other books)
- It doesn’t overdo planning. There are a handful of pages for notes and journaling and then only one, simple page per calendar month.
- You’re going to have to write pretty small for the calendar.
- You have to enter the dates since it can be used any year. (This can be said of many planners.)
- It doesn’t have much organization. If you need more than that simple, monthly calendar page, this is not the planner for you.
So really, this totally depends on what you need and want, what fits you. If you want something small to jot down a few appointments and will enjoy some creative pages for taking random notes and recording random thoughts, then this one is a fun one to try. Then again, good luck finding a copy. It’s not super widely available, for some reason. Perhaps very few people need a small, pared down planner and will want some creative space and a loose approach to organizing.