The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today. It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times. I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know! This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!
So today happens to be my blogoversary! I've been officially blogging for two years! And it's still the best! So for today's Refined Reader I wanted to talk about what blogs, and computers and the internet in general have replaced for us - the need for a commonplace book.
|17th Century Commonplace book w/ a Shakespeare sonnet|
Commonplace books historically were used to keep track of odd bits of knowledge and things that a person wanted to remember. From quotes, poems, recipes and ideas - it was used by many famous authors, scientists, philosophers and regular people to remember every little thing. This was not a diary or a journal, it was not always even an important item - sometimes it could just be a book of scrap paper for notes that you might need in the course of your daily life.
Commonplace books are now seen as a valuable insight into what people in the past were interested in and what they found important. But keeping a commonplace book (and a well-organized one) was also an important tool for scholars and students, and it was sometimes taught how to keep one at universities. In 1706, John Locke wrote a book on the topic called A New Method of Making Common-place Books. (I skimmed some of the book to get more perspective on how important commonplace books were back then, but Old English is rather difficult to read so I didn't get much out of it!)
Even though I have my blog, pinterest, and my computer for word documents, I was taken by the idea of keeping a commonplace book that would provide a snapshot of my personality and interests. I've kept one since 2008, but I did change to a new notebook rather recently (it has words from Jane Eyre embossed on the cover!) so I had to copy all my quotes and poems to the new book. I also like to have celebrities/authors autograph the book whenever I get the chance. Just to make it more special to me. Here are some pictures of my commonplace book:
A few more pages from my book - one with Doctor Who quotes and the other with "The Mouse's Tale" from Alice in Wonderland. I had to try to write it like a tail! It's nice to decorate the pages with little drawings I think - again to make it more personal! I also like to keep mementos in my book - like a sprig of heather from my trip to England, and a piece of confetti from a concert I went to a few years ago.
Do you keep something like a commonplace book - a physical way to note down favorite poems, lyrics, quotes, or anything special to you? Or do you mostly keep track of these things electronically?