Daily Dispatch

Why You Should Be Keeping a Commonplace Book

Out of all the habits or hobbies I have adopted over the last five years, reading has by far had the most significant impact on my life. This is due to the sheer amount of knowledge I have acquired through both reading and studying hundreds of books. I do believe that there is a substantial difference between studying a book and merely just reading one. The difference I think lies in retaining the information as well as being able to apply it to one’s life.

Retaining the information we have collected from books was for me, the most challenging part of actually putting what I had learned into practice. Like many, I make highlights and notes as I go, but this isn’t all that useful unless I go back and re-read them on a regular basis. The best way that I have come across to collect your favorite ideas or take-aways is a commonplace book. I’ll let Ryan Holiday explain to you what a commonplace book is, as well as how to keep one in his complete guide.

Just to give you a quick preview, below is a brief excerpt from the article, explaining what a commonplace book is:

“A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.

Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books. Marcus Aurelius kept one–which more or less became the Meditations. Petrarch kept one. Montaigne, who invented the essay, kept a handwritten compilation of sayings, maxims and quotations from literature and history that he felt were important. His earliest essays were little more than compilations of these thoughts. Thomas Jefferson kept one. Napoleon kept one. HL Mencken, who did so much for the English language, as his biographer put it, “methodically filled notebooks with incidents, recording straps of dialogue and slang” and favorite bits from newspaper columns he liked. Bill Gates keeps one.”


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