First of all, what is a commonplace book?

A commonplace book is a notebook (or other resource) that is used to record ideas, facts, quotes, and personal responses to information encountered while reading, studying, or just going about your daily life.

You can use it to record anything,from that deep, inspirational quote from your latest read to that hilarious thing your best friend said the other day over coffee.


Why keep a commonplace or reading journal?

The answer to this question is quite simply to have a record of your thoughts and learning for use later in life — whether that be next week or in 20 years. Great men and women throughout history have kept such journals, from Marcus Aurelius to Thomas Jefferson. I’ve even heard that Bill Gates keeps one.

There are many benefits to keeping one, here are some of the reasons you might want to consider keeping some sort of written notebook, reading journal, or commonplace book:

You are more likely to be able to recall something if you have written it down

Even if you don’t actually go back to reference the entry, writing something down is one of the best ways to retain information.

It helps you to focus and contemplate ideas

I know that when I’m taking notes, I’m unable to think about one thing while writing about another. It keeps the mind from wandering. Re-wording or summarizing also helps to make someone else’s ideas your own.

It keeps you awake!

How many times have you fallen asleep while reading? I’ve done it more times than I’d care to admit! You are so much less likely to fall asleep while taking notes or marking up a book.

It sets a good example for your children

It is so important for our children to see that learning and education is not restricted to children alone! If we want our children to grow to be lifelong learners, they must see that we are as well. My daughter refers to my notebook as mom’s copywork πŸ™‚

It keeps your brain sharp

The physical act of writing is a good cognitive exercise for keeping your mind sharp as you age.Β To keep your brain from atrophy, you need to exercise it!

It will be a great help to your biographer

Just kidding!

While the commonplace books kept by notable people are a wonderful source of information to us today,Β  yours may be a blessing to your children or other descendants some day.

What is a commonplace book? Why should you be keeping one?

Do you keep a commonplace book, or some other kind of reading notebook?
Living and Learning at Home

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