I love books. I love reading. And I love talking and writing about both.
I worked in the books business for more than 20 years, ranging from book-selling in local stores, to buying books for an internet retailer, to starting and running a publishing group. When I quit that world a few years ago to a completely different kind of work, I was afraid I would lose my reading life. I have been surprised to find I’m reading and enjoying books now more than ever. I read a little bit of everything but I am especially fond of memoirs, contemporary fiction, nature writing, books about art and the making of it, a little bit of poetry, and a lot of what was once called business life books. I’m getting into YA — late to the game, I know!
One of my many creative obsessions is commonplace books. A commonplace book is a collection of knowledge. It’s a journal filled with everything from quotations, observations, and citations to formulas, facts, and figures–anything that’s worth remembering from anything one has read, heard, or seen. In a way it is a scrapbook, commemorating and keeping track of the things we have learned and the places we have been, figuratively or literally, via the media that passes through our lives: books, articles, poems, movies, songs, blogs, and so on. Commonplace books are kept by readers, writers, scholars, and students of schools and of life.
For the past few years I’ve been keeping a digital commonplace in Evernote, and from time to time I write an update on how it’s going and things I’m learning. In 2022 I read Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte, and then I watched a bunch of videos by other people who use the BASB system as well as something called Zettlekasten. I’m trying to incorporate these two concepts into my digital commonplace book now. Sometimes I write about that process here, too.