Of Commonplace Books: A Simple Guided Tour

One of my older sisters first introduced me to the idea of a commonplace book. I thought it was a wonderful idea so the next week I began my own. Now I have had it for a couple years and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would give a short little step-by-step guide to starting your own. (:


First of all, what is a commonplace book?

Well, it’s simply a notebook purposed for the filling of quotes.


How to keep your own:

Step 1: Pick out a notebook.

That is one of the special things about the commonplace book. Instead of writing quotes here and there depending on the closest resource, they are all kept together, in one spot, for easy use.

Technically, you use any kind of journal, but I would encourage to use something more beautiful than a 90 cent spiral-bound notebook. This is something you will be able to use throughout your life, so you will want something that can last. (:


Step 2: Begin to fill it.

Write down quotes from books or movies or speeches, lines of poetry, bible verses, and prayers. Basically, any beautiful, funny, or touching handful of words that you really like and wish to treasure away. I’ve even written down one or two things a friend has told me, because it impacted me so much.

You can doodle around the quotes, illustrate them, or just write them down. There are many possibilities, so be creative if you want. (:


Step 3: Revisit it.

The point of the commonplace book is not to store away quotes and just forget about them. Every once and while, pick your book up again and read through it! Sometimes you can find fresh inspiration, or suddenly appreciate one of the quotes even more than before.


Step 4: Share it!

Feel free to just show friends and family your book. Or maybe included a quote at the end of a letter you write. Maybe you write one out on a piece of paper for a friend you’ve been thinking about. You could even start exchanging one quote every month with someone you know who also keep up a commonplace journal.


And that’s it! Pretty simple, right?

But before I go, I’d like to share a couple of my favorite selections from my commonplace book. Feel free to add them to yours. (:


  •  “It’s better to live life as you will want to have lived, rather than spend your time worrying about the end.” – Ember Falls by S.D. Smith


  • “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I’ve made them right.” – The Book Thief


  • “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” – Mark Twain


  • “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process.” – E.B. White


  • “Pain is God’s megaphone.” – C.S. Lewis


  • “True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written and writing what deserves to be read.” – Pliny the Elder


And finally a quote from Dr. Seuss that I doodled:



What about you? Have you ever kept a commonplace book? What are your favorite quotes? Do you have one for me to add to my commonplace book?


15 thoughts on “Of Commonplace Books: A Simple Guided Tour”

  1. This idea is so awesome! I actually have one that I started a couple years ago and I love it so much! Although I had no idea they actually have a name.
    I couldn’t bring myself to only give one so here’s 3 of my favorites:

    “Few pleasures are as basic and satisfying as hearing a good story-unless it’s the pleasure of writing one.”
    – Margaret Lucke

    “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.” – Lousia May Alcott

    “You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
    – C.S. Lewis

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! I have had a commonplace book for a couple of weeks now, only I just called it my “quote book.” Here is two of my favorite quotes:
    “…We should never wish our children or friends to do what we would not do ourselves if we were in their position. We must accept righteous sacrifices as well as make them.” George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie.
    “‘So long as we keep eating, we don’t have to wash the dishes,’ said Royal.” –The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! PursueWisdom here from SE!

    Lovely idea! I appreciate those examples you gave us above!
    I actually recall reading about a “Commonplace Book” by Jefferson in a biography last year. The biographer included some excerpts like these from Homer’s Ilaid – transl. by Alexander Pope. I found them to be truly sublime (much better than the prose translation I read originally of Homer):

    Death is the worst; a fate which all must try;
    And for our country’ t is a bliss to die.
    The gallant man, tho’ slain in fight he be,
    Yet leaves his nation safe, his children free;
    Entails a debt on all the grateful state;
    His own brave friends shall glory in his fate;
    His wife live honour’d, all his race succeed,
    And late posterity enjoy the deed!’


    If, in the melancholy shades below,
    The flames of friends and lovers cease to glow,
    Yet mine shall sacred last; mine, undecayed,
    Burn on through death, and animate my shade.

    Anyway, here I go to find an appropiate journal book to start scribbling!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have one of these! I didn’t know it had a name though. My favorite quotes from it are:
    “Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes’” ~ Elizabeth Elliot
    “Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.” ~ C.S. Lewis
    “If you want a child to know the truth, tell him the truth. If you want a child to love the truth, tell him a story.” ~ Andrew Peterson.

    Liked by 1 person

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