Thanks, Shelf Improvers

I started this blog in late October and today we passed a milestone. Well, not really “we.” More like “you.”

This blog has been seen by readers more than 1,000 times. Yay you. Or maybe, Yay, me.

In  honor of this occasion, I’m going to offer a special gift to those who visit this page: A peek inside my Commonplace Book.

My what? Well, my Commonplace Book is a collection of quotes I’ve really liked that I’ve come across. There are so many things that are so beautifully written or so insightful, that I want to remember them and where they came from. So I bought a blank book and write the quotes inside. Sometimes it’s a great line from a mediocre book. Othertimes it’s a poem I discovered or something else that has touched me.

I’ve read that Commonplace Books were commonplace ages ago and in some cases are the only place a poem or a passage from a longer work exists, especially in the work of the ancient Greeks.

When I read my book, I am often surprised at the melancholic nature of the quotes inside and the various ways writers have expressed the same thought. Am I that sad an navel-gazey? At times, I am. But who isn’t?

Enough navel-gazing: Here is the gift for today, one silly and one profound. You decide which is which.

From “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis: “[T]here was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.”

And one of the most beautiful sentences ever, from E.B. White in “Stuart Little:” “In the loveliest town of all, where the houses were white and high and the elm trees were green and higher than the houses, where the front yards were wide and pleasant and the back yards were bushy and worth finding out about, where the streets sloped down to the stream and the stream flowed quietly under the bridge, where the lawns ended in orchards and the orchards ended in fields and the fields ended in pastures and the pastures climbed the hills and disappeared over the top toward the wonderful wide sky in this loveliest of all towns Stuart stopped to get a drink of sarsaparilla.”

Do you have a Commonplace Book? Even if you don’t, share the words you find worth remembering.

4 thoughts on “Thanks, Shelf Improvers

  1. Pingback: A peek inside my sad, sad brain – Shelf Improvement

  2. cbernas

    My Grandmother Ament kept a “silly book” in which she wrote qutoes, poems, lyrics, addresses, recipes, clipped articles and pictures she wanted to keep. My dad gave Eleanor one awhile back and she keeps it on her desk. I am always tempted to peek inside but I feel it is too close to being like a diary and deserves privacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peggy Ptasznik

    Congratulations on the milestone to you and your readers. One of my favorite quotes comes from Willa Cather: ” There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they never happened before.”


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