Brain Pickings

Wreck This Box: Keri Smith’s Activity Books for Grown-Ups

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Author, illustrator and guerrilla artist Keri Smith is a master of the interactive journal. Wreck This Box is a recently released box set of her three masterpieces: Wreck This Journal, a lovely illustrated journal inviting you to conjure your best mistake-making skills and indulge your destructivist demons as part of the creative process, This Is Not a Book, which rethinks the purpose and function of a book and invites you along for the journey, and Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes, a potent antidote for your lifelong conditioning for overthinking and fear of being wrong.

Images by Kimberly Ripley

So vibrant is the cult of Keri Smith’s creations that there’s an entire How to Wreck a Journal Flickr pool, 2121 members strong. The box set, too, comes with instructions for how to wreck it and ample encouragement to “make a mess with the box.”

Wreck This Box is as much a delightful activity for parents to do with their kids as they foster an environment of playful acceptance of imperfection as it is much-needed play therapy for grown-ups as we try to shed our lifelong layers of painful perfectionism and, in the process, unleash our inherent, uninhibited creativity. It’s a quirky, hands-on companion to Brené Brown’s intelligent and research-driven The Gifts of Imperfection.

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