Take a Tiny Tour of my Commonplace Notebook
Plus, word-eaters, (re)learning how to read, microjoys, and more.
Last weekend, I pedaled to a local bookstore and searched for a five-year diary. I discovered — and bought — the “Celestial One Line a Day Diary” by artist and designer Yao Cheng. It’s a beautiful diary! I love the cover and the gilded page edges. Also, it's published by Chronicle Books; one of my favorite publishers.
I’ve been using the diary to write down a meaningful quote each day. It's my new commonplace notebook. (I got the idea from Austin Kleon). I’m having fun with this notebook, so I wanted to share some of it with you.
One the first page, I included a quote by Dwight Garner. He is a book critic for the New York Times. A few years ago, Garner wrote a wonderful article about commonplace books. He said:
“… Like Montaigne, I quote others only ‘in order to better express myself.’ Montaigne compared quoting well to arranging other people’s flowers. Sometimes, I sense, I quote too often in the reviews I write for The New York Times, swinging on quotations as if from vine to vine. It’s one of the curses of spending a lifetime as a word-eater, and of retaining a reliable memory.”
As a fellow writer and reader, the line about being a “word-eater” made me laugh.
In a recent entry, I included a quote from Cyndie Spiegel's new book – Microjoys. She said:
"Friends become our mirrors and show us who we truly are; they are also our memory keepers as life flows and we forget the moments that made us. When we are lucky enough to have them, friendships that shift and grow with time are soul-fueling. So whenever possible, show kindness, assume love, and forgive most things."
Nurturing my friendships is important to me, so Spiegel's words felt timely.
After I wrote the quote above in my notebook, I connected with a friend that I’d lost touch with. We had a lovely chat on the phone. Hopefully, I’ll get to spend time with her in the spring!
Later in the year, I’ll write a follow-up essay about my commonplace notebook. I’m curious to see how this project evolves.
With that, here’s what sparked my creativity and curiosity recently:
1.) A Brief Guide to Keeping a Commonplace Book was fun to reread. Charley Locke's article—Commonplace Books Are Like a Diary Without the Risk of Annoying Yourself—is excellent, too!
2.) So good: On (re)learning how to read.
3.) Last week, Cyndie Spiegel’s book — Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay — arrived in my mailbox. I devoured the book quickly! It’s delightful and helpful.
4.) Loved this: How to Cultivate Friendships Without Spending Money to Go Out.
5.) I enjoyed Nic Antoinette's round-up of “what’s working,” and all the helpful links she shared.
6.) An informative, hard, and heartbreaking conversation about the American Academy of Pediatrics new guidelines for “childhood obesity:” Doctors Have a New Plan for Fat Kids.
7.) Here’s my latest article for Be More with Less: A Simple Digital Declutter Checklist.
Thanks for reading!
Below are a few simple ways to support my work:
If you enjoyed this letter, hit the heart button below.
Share my letter with a friend.
Thanks for reading Letters from Tammy Strobel! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
Love that quote from Microjoys! One of my favorite things is to find a photo in Google Photos from years ago (ideally an entertaining one) and send it to the friend who was there. So easy to forget what we've done or experienced, so it's always a cool way to connect with someone.
I've been reading you for years and I do remember one of the first times you mentioned a commonplace notebook. How time goes by! I'd never heard of them of course, together with so many things you've brought my attention to. It's easy to forget how many enriching and rewarding things the Internet can bring us when used right.