Tuesday, January 10, 2012

8 Pens, 1 Notebook, and a Stack o' Books

When my favorite black pen died, I could have bought just one to replace it. Instead I bought the colorful 10-pack, even though I didn't need any of the colors for anything special.

The leather-bound notebook was a Christmas gift a few years ago. It was buried in a box because I could find no worthy purpose for it.
The stack of books I want to read soon...ah, the books! I never need a reason to buy another book.
(Disclaimer: It just so happens, however, that three of the books in this stack were purchased under the expenditure category of "preview for future school use". Just so you know.)

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but those pens have finally found a use of their own and the notebook now has a purpose, all because of books like those.

I've started what some call a Commonplace Book, which is simply a collection of note-worthy quotes that I have copied from the books I read. I use a different color pen for each book, partly for easier reference, but mostly just because it's fun!

I've noticed two things about keeping a Commonplace Book. One is that I read more slowly and deliberately (a hard thing for a natural speed-reader!), and often re-read passages as well, because I don't want to miss anything worth writing down. I have also noticed that the books that I've chosen to read since I started my Commonplace Book have (for the most part) been more challenging and more thought-provoking than books I've chosen in the past.

Which leads me to make a confession: I have not made a lot of exceptional "literature" choices in the past few years. In fact, much of what I've read over the last decade can hardly be called literature at all! (I have called it many things: "fluff", "mindless", "just for fun", "a quick read"...and now, honest with myself at last, I'll call it "junk".)

But that's behind me now. I've turned over a new leaf...of notebook paper.
In the back of my Commonplace Book, I've started a list (color-coordinated to match my quotes from each book, of course!) of the books I have read in 2012. There's only one rule...no "junk" books allowed.

Some of them may be short and/or easy to read, some may be borrowed from the kids' bookshelves, and some may be challenging to read or perhaps simply thought-provoking, but I am determined that they will all, for whatever reason they are chosen, be worth reading.