Keeping and Sanity

Sometimes life gets a little crazy. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a lifeline, something to cling to. A hint of “normal” in a sea of chaos. Because, while you know things will come right eventually, you still need to somehow get through today.



For me, lately, I’ve found that comfort in my Commonplace Book. I bought a fancy one after reading The Living Page. In the last couple of weeks I’ve moved from a few entries per month to several per week. And it’s good. Last week I picked up my commonplace book and read some quotes aloud. I remembered the books I’d gathered the quotes from, and why I had loved each selection enough to copy it. A few I even shared with my children. I noted that my favorites were still from The Iliad.


My keepings, like my readings, tend to wander. On this page is a long quote tracing the makings of the American settlers from Democracy in America, then a very funny selection on not being too good from Three Men in a Boat, and ending with warnings from How to Read a Book.

You may notice that I’m not very fancy. I don’t color coordinate anything, half the time I don’t even notate which page or chapter I’ve quoted (ebooks don’t help that either). I have not even bothered to make an index. I use whatever pen is handy, and I note both the date and the book’s title. That’s all.


Let’s not get serious, shall we? 🙂 Many, many times I have heard a variation of “I’m afraid to mess up the book so I don’t use it”. Use it anyway. Conquer perfectionism – it is your enemy. No comfort is found in the empty pages of a “perfect” book. (Look at the top entry, somehow I originally miswrote the date. Does it even matter? And shouldn’t it be “Alice in Wonderland”?)

Or, perhaps, you are waiting until you are ready to read “the great books”, so you can copy the greatest thoughts of the ages. Don’t! Of the last three entries, one is from the Bible, and two are from books I am reading to my children. They spoke to me. Exodus reminded me to rest. The Princess & the Goblin reminded me not to listen to my fears. And Alice tells me to simply start at the beginning, and stop at the end.

So I think I’ll stop. How have you grown by keeping?

1 Comment

  1. Carol

    I like what you said: ‘No comfort is found in the empty pages of a “perfect” book.’ I was thinking that I wouldn’t ever post a picture of my commonplace book because my handwriting is so messy. Never used to be but at least it gets done even if it’s not pretty. I did buy myself some decent sharpie pens that I enjoy the feel of writing with.


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