The Wonderful Idea You Need: Start a Commonplace Book Now

This Week’s BIG Idea

For those unfamiliar, a commonplace book is a tool to organize the knowledge you come across. It usually takes the form of a collection of quotes, lessons, or information that you intend to review often. The idea is to compile all of that in the same physical or digital place: some people use apps like Notion, while others use complex systems of notecards. I already have a traditional journal, as well as a bullet journal, but I tried several times to start a commonplace book in order to compile the most important lessons I read from books. The only thing remotely similar to this is a series of notebooks where I summarize books, but long-form summaries aren’t as succinct, or straightforward as I’d like. Ideally, this central hub of sorts should the easy to read and the information should be easy to find.

There are numerous benefits to keeping a commonplace, but the most common is that it allows you to find sources of information and connect ideas. As I mentioned above, I’ve come back and forth when it comes to keeping a commonplace book. To a certain extent, my website is my current commonplace book, but long-form summaries are hard to review when you’re looking for specific ideas. I also keep a collection of quotes in Notion, but again, I don’t review them often which defeats the purpose of starting a commonplace in the first place.

If I were to start a commonplace book at some point in the future, it would have to be: 1) as simple as possible, 2) physical because it gives it meaning 3) the ideas should be short 4) the system should be one central hub instead of a collection of things (such as several notebooks which is what I have now). Is this my new year’s resolution? I don’t want to commit to anything just yet, but I’ve heard so many great things about keeping a commonplace book that I want to benefit from it too.

What I’m Working on

I’m still hard at work on some of the end-of-the-year lists. Although I know compiling the number of books I read over the course of a given year is a herculean task, I grossly underestimated the time it takes to write them. I enjoy working on those lists, not only because it puts things in perspective, but also because it makes me reflect on the books I read and it helps me decide which books to read in the future. Hopefully, by the time you read this both lists will be ready for publication, so look forward to those over the coming days.

What I’m Listening to

Although the fragment above is a short YouTube clip, it originally came out as a podcast episode. I read some of The Minimalist books, but I haven’t listed to their podcast in some time. Minimalism is one of the topics I was interested in the most when I first started this website. The video above reminded me of what drew me to that subject in the first place.

What I’m Reading

  • Quentin Tarantino by Ian Nathan: I had this book on my TBR for a few days now and I really wanted to read it… at first. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the book, I am. The author’s incredibly articulate, the book’s full of amazing pictures from the films, and it’s incredibly well-written. But I’m questioning some of my decisions surrounding the books I choose. I’ve enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s films deeply, so I have no regrets on that end. What will I get out of this book other than the idea that Tarantino’s an accomplished filmmaker? Didn’t I know that before reading this book? What can I learn from this book that can help me achieve my goals? Should I go to a book of this type looking for that? Again, I’m enjoying my time with this book. But I can’t shake the feeling that I could be reading something that helps me achieve my goals rather than something that distracts me from them. I guess this is something to take into consideration moving forward.

What I’m Watching

Although I don’t have much experience with high-quality notebooks, I’ve been thinking about getting Moleskines for quite some time now. For my writing purposes, I need three notebooks: a large notebook to summarize books, a smaller notebook for traditional journaling, and the same size notebook for bullet journaling. I tried combining methods so that I can get away with fewer notebooks, but that hasn’t worked out yet. I might get some Moleskines soon and the video embedded above helped me out with the different sizes.

This Week’s Quote

“This is what the best journals look like. They aren’t for the reader. They are for the writer. To slow the mind down. To wage peace with oneself.”

Ryan Holiday

Here’s a link to my personal website where I share chapter-by-chapter summaries of non-fiction books 

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