“If Found Please Read” author and creator Madison White started her writing career with 50 handwritten journals and a plan to sneak them into book stores across the nation. She saved about $2,000 from her waitressing job and decided to cross the country on a Greyhound bus on her self-proclaimed book tour. What she didn’t realize was that her life would change before this adventure ever really started.
Her journals include what Madison refers to as “ramblings.” Unedited, unapologetic expressions of her life. In her writings, she tackles issues such as depression and what it was like to leave home, focusing on growing up and refusing to. She was going for raw, unedited and real.
At the start of each journal, Madison included her contact information in addition to a disclaimer and introduction to her work. She wrote that the first chapter may be hers, but that the second is the reader’s—an open invitation for them to tell their own life story. The point of this mission was to connect with strangers.
A few days before her planned departure, she went to a show and afterwards chatted up one of the musicians, explaining her “If Found Please Read” project and the journey she was about to set out on. A luck would have it, his band was breaking up and he was looking for renewed inspiration with his music. He invited himself along on her tour to play in coffee shops and bars as they traveled. He also happened to drive a Toyota Scion—a step up from the Greyhound bus.
It’s just too much story! Part 3 after work and the kids go to sleep 😬 #itreallyhappenedthisway #iffoundpleaseread #streetlibraryproject #everyonehasastory #booktok #journal #story #guerillapublishing #storyforthegrankids
Madison couldn’t refuse that sweet set of wheels, and together they traveled across the country, clocking up 18,000 miles in his car. Her new friend played in coffee shops and Madison snuck her journals into bookstores, and at night they’d lay down the back seats and sleep in truck stops and parking lots. The first of Madison’s journals was found when they were passing through Portland. She received a text that read, “Is this real”?
Madison was jumping—someone had found her book. After back and forth texts, this complete stranger opened up to her saying how he related to Madison’s leaving home early because he too left home when he was young: his parents didn’t accept him coming out. Madison had embarked on this project as a way to connect with people and it had already proven to be a powerful tool.
As they continued traveling, Madison received more phone calls and texts, even meeting some of her perfect strangers in person. A total of 30 of her initial 50 journals were found and she deemed the trip a success. Oh yeah, and you may have guessed this already, but that musician who came on the road with her? Well they’re now married and have been for several years.
But here’s the really exciting thing: Madison’s starting it back up. This time, she’s on a mission to leave 1,000 handwritten journals for perfect strangers to find. You never know where they’re going to turn up! Happy hunting.