By Jonathan Arena; originally published in PHC Herald, 26 March 2010
Patrick Henry College
Following the success of their first book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, PHC sophomores Alex and Brett Harris recently released their anticipated follow-up called Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. The book, which provides practical tips for doing the kinds of “big things” encouraged in the first book, hit stores and online retailers on March 16.
“If Do Hard Things was a manifesto of the movement, this is a field guide,” Brett Harris said. The book deals with questions submitted by “Rebelutionaries” via email or through the Rebelution website.
Among the many questions the book attempts to answer are: “What if doing hard things makes me unpopular?”, or “What’s the best way to handle the affirmation I receive for doing hard things?”, or “How do I ask people to support my cause?”
“It’s actually a question-and-answer format, divided into broader categories,” explained Brett. “And then, a lot of stories.” Numerous anecdotes from Alex and Brett’s personal lives as well as those submitted by others provide real-life examples of the principles and methods in the book.
As part of Start Here’s pre-launch, the Harris brothers organized an Amazon “book bomb,” spreading the word across their network to pre-order the book on February 23, boosting the book’s ranking on Amazon.
“I think [Start Here] was around the 50,000th out of millions of titles, and it went to the top twenties,” said Alex. As a result, Start Here quickly reached #2 in the “Youth Ministry” category. A similar effort prior to the release of Do Hard Things drove the book to the #5 spot overall.
Alex and Brett made it clear that the purpose of the book bomb was to promote the message, not simply to increase sales of their book.
“If there is someone who can’t afford [the book], we want them to be able to have it,” Alex said.
Brett and Alex Harris
“They approached us last year with the idea,” Brett said. The brothers explained that the BarlowGirl’s message is very similar to that of the Rebelution.
“We’ll be giving the same messages from the Do Hard Things Tour, and BarlowGirl also has a message, based on Romans 12,” Brett said.
“We have slightly different audiences,” Alex allowed, “just because they are a band and we are writers and speakers.” But the Chicago event is designed to bring those two audiences together in one event, with teaching sessions and worship along with a Christian music concert and the Harris brothers’ speaking.
With the massive amount of planning and organizing involved in releasing the book, not to mention the “normal” pressures of PHC life and academics, the Harris brothers credit God with the book’s successful launch.
“One of the principles we share in the book is that God doesn’t give conflicting obligations,” Brett said. The Harris twins say they have found that God has provided the time to do everything he has called them to do. In fact, it has provided a perfect opportunity to put their message to work in their own lives.
“God has a sense of humor,” Brett said, smiling. “And he doesn’t like hypocrites.”