I’ve been dreaming of a commonplace book for quite some time now, ever since seeing a fantastic exhibit at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery by Ann Hamilton that featured gorgeous vintage commonplace books.
These books have been around for centuries and they vary greatly in design and use, but ultimately they are a collection of quotes and ideas that a user gathers over time. Historically they have been handwritten but there are many instances of digital commonplace books online these days. As a voracious reader, I often come across lines of text so beautiful or so poignant that I expect them to be forever imprinted on my brain, but they are relegated to the gutters of my leaky memory pretty quickly.
An important question to start with is what will I use commonplace book for? Three things immediately come to mind:
- A way to improve retention of the things I’ve read.
- Inspiration for idea development and writing of all types.
- A record of my reading that I can reflect on or share with friends.
I mentioned this obsession to my good friend Elise a while back and she loved it, too. We immediately started digging into the idea, going back and forth a bit. While we both love the idea of a commonplace book, we have pretty different ideas on the execution of the book, starting with the format. So we decided to test out a few prototypes and compare notes right here at http:www.thecommonplace.net.