Not so Common
상태바
Not so Common
  • GLOBE
  • 승인 2015.09.09 10:38
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The small notebook is red leather and its pages are tightly bound. Peering inside, the writing is even smaller; words are penned in straight lines of black ink on unlined pages. These pages hold an assortment of words—brilliant things I’ve read online, funny things my friends have said that I want to remember, notes to myself about anything from viruses to the universe. My best friend has one of these notebooks as well. Like our personalities, the notebooks have many similarities, but striking differences, too. Inside her turquoise paper notebook is a rainbow of words scribbled randomly on the pages. Like mine, her notebook contains a variety of witty phrases, reminders, and beautiful words she’s read. I’ve been keeping some variation of this book for years. The appearance is always different and the care with which notes are written changes, but one thing doesn’t change—the contents. It’s thanks to my friend that I learned there was a name for this kind of notebook and that I wasn’t the first person to keep one. These are our commonplace books.
A commonplace book is not a diary, but a way to manage information based on one’s interests. Famous people such as Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon and John Milton kept them. Entries include proverbs, new ideas, quotes, prayers, poems, and even recipes. I started out writing just deep, meaningful quotes in mine but over time, my notebook has taken on a life of its own. Sometimes I come up with ideas that I have to share with my friends or hear something that’s too interesting to forget; later on, looking through my book can lead to hilarious laughter or deep conversation. I used to keep separate notebooks for every subject, but that was too much trouble. Now I keep everything in one spot and reread it often.
A commonplace book isn’t meant to be a collection of facts but a meaningful book that will be used as a personal guide for many years to come. They are more interesting when the author gets information from a wide variety of sources which is why mine has quotes from poet Mary Oliver as well as facts about the brain. Methods differ, too—some people make notes as they read, wait a week, and then transfer the most important things. I write notes and observations as I go. Whatever the method, I’m careful to keep it updated regularly, lest unwritten quotes and passages pile up like unread emails. I don’t limit myself to just written information either—the world is a fascinating place I love filling my book with my own observations and ideas.
Ultimately, a commonplace book is what you make it. It can be a reflection of your life and interests, hugely valuable to you months and even years later. The key is to embrace your own interests while looking at the world from all angles. Observe, read, consider…and then start taking notes. You’ll thank yourself later.


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