How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book”

After absolute ages, I found an excellent, well-referenced, intelligent article in Thought Catalog. I want to share it with those of you who don’t visit the website, as well as those of you who have given up on it. 🙂

Thought Catalog

The other day I was reading a book and I came across a little anecdote. It was about the great Athenian general Themistocles. Before the battle of Salamis, he was locked in a vigorous debate with a Spartan general about potential strategies for defeating the Persians. Themistocles was clearly in the minority with his views (but which ultimately turned out to be right and saved Western Civilization). He continued to interrupt and contradict the other generals. Finally, the Spartan general threatened to strike Themistocles if he didn’t shut up and stop. “Strike!” Themistocles shouted back, “But listen!”

When I read this, I immediately began a ritual that I have practiced for many years–and that others have done for centuries before me–I marked down the passage and later transferred it to my commonplace book. Why? Because it’s a great line and it stood out to me. I wrote it…

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Become-Well-read-With-Only-100 Books-Challenge

This whole thing is based on this article that I read on Book Riot:

100 books to turn you well-read!

I have decided to read every book on this list, no matter how long it takes so that I may be truly well-read by societal standards.(“Well-read” for this person then has a number of connotations: a familiarity with the monuments of Western literature, an at least passing interest in the high-points of world literature, a willingness to experience a breadth of genres, a special interest in the work of one’s immediate culture, a desire to share in the same reading experiences of many other readers, and an emphasis on the writing of the current day.)

This isn’t because I have something to prove to somebody or I want to be pretentious about being well-read, but because I want new ideas for what to read, and i want to read outside my genre. 🙂

Some of these books are those that I’ve abandoned after trying. They’re the ones that scare me the most but I’ve made a bit of a dent in the list already, so that’s comforting. 🙂

Besides, there are a substantial number that I’ve read about a quarter or half of already so that’s good right? RIGHT?! Oh, I’m screwed, I know, but what’s the point of a challenge if it’s simple?

Here’s the list. I’ll strike out the ones I’ve read already.

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay  by Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  14. Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  16. The Call of the Wild  by Jack London
  17. Candide by Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  23. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  24. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor 
  27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  43. The Gospels
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  50. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad by Homer
  59. The Inferno by Dante
  60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  64. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury
  66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  72. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  73. The Odyssey by Homer
  74. Oedipus, King by Sophocles
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  79. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  81. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
  82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  85. The Stand by Stephen King
  86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  99. 1984 by George Orwell
  100. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

We Can Be The Writers We Want To Read

I really enjoyed this. i agree with every word. 🙂

Thought Catalog

We can be the writers we want to read. We aren’t sentenced to a lifetime of consuming; we can create. We can carve messages into the tree trunks and picnic tables that dot our landscape.

I really think you should start writing; yes, you. You right there. Start jotting down your deepest fears and anxieties, or reminisce about the greatest night of your life, or write a story where Regis Philbin kills a drifter just to see if he can get an erection. Hey, instead of writing your idea, maybe you’d rather make it into a song or a drawing or a movie or a stylish hat. Whatever you want – I chose writing because you don’t need cameras and guitars, or even pants or anything. Never underestimate something that can be done lying down.

Me, I started writing because I felt out of sync with the world. I spent…

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It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

I needed to hear this from somebody else. Intelligently written. 🙂

Life Scribbles

“So, what do you want to do with your life?”

THIS is the great existential question of our generation.

No matter how many times you ask me (mom, dad, strangers who pretend to care), my answer will always be the same.

“I DON’T KNOW.”

Why can’t the existential question of our generation be something simple.

Like, are you a dog person or a cat person?

Easy.

Dog person.

Or

“Orange juice or apple juice?”

Easy.

Apple.

But, no. Adults, teachers, peers, and anybody who can get a word in edge wise will ask you the same loaded question over and over again as if one day, you will have a satisfying answer.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I can tell you what I don’t want. I don’t want to constantly worry about figuring out what I do want. I don’t want to force…

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Poem: A Micro-blogging Website

Disclaimer: It isn’t very good, so bear with me.

It’s teeming with activity,

Constantly buzzing, updating, and changing.

Yet, on examination;

After digging a little deeper,

One can clearly establish that,

Though it is vibrant and alive,

And constantly churning things out,

It is unrefuted and not questionable

That is contains nothing of value.

Yes, there can be no doubt about this fact:

My brain has become a micro-blogging site.