How to Keep a Commonplace Book: Background information when reading Why We Broke Up

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Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2011, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2013, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
How to Keep a Commonplace Book

Min's narrative-through-objects reminded me of a "commonplace book" I kept in high school at the urging of my (wonderful) 10th grade English teacher. Commonplace books became very popular during the Renaissance, used as a kind of intellectual filing system, whereby one collected poems, proverbs, quotes, and other material around a particular subject or theme.* Over time, the idea expanded to encompass a more modern combination of a scrapbook and a diary filled with sketches, photographs, articles, mementos, even mathematical equations.

Commonplace Book Freed of the aesthetic demands of a traditional scrapbook, or the literary expectations of a diary, the rules are yours to make and break. I was never good at keeping up with a diary, but I loved my commonplace journal. I would select a seemingly unimportant artifact from my day, paste or tape it into my journal, and use that as a jumping-off point for reflection. I'd pocket an empty sugar-packet and pair it with reflections on a conversation I ...

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