One of my goals for the last year, and something that I’m trying to continue in this one, was to give myself more time to read. Reading is one of the few things that allow me (sometimes) to “switch off” completely and just immerse myself into a different story, something that I seem to need even more during these pandemic times.
This year of intensified reading, often in genres quite outside of my usual “comfort zone,” was very stimulating for my English skills and woke up some of the latent love for words I had in me. I usually like to have one of my trusty dictionaries with me at all times when I read. Not so much to help me understand the contents—I can read most English books without any help—but to confirm the meaning of any words that I haven’t met yet or those I know only through context. Until now, I tried to save such words in the electronic dictionaries themselves or write them on random pieces of paper to copy them later somewhere safer (and immediately losing them, of course). However, when I found an article about the tradition of copying passages from books into a dedicated notebook called a commonplace book, I thought that I need something like this for my words! I already “lost” dozens of interesting ones, maybe forever!
For this task, I chose this delightful small notebook made by a Japanese company called Kunisawa. While looking quite fancy, it also has an outstanding quality paper that worked well with all my fountain pens and sturdy covers that should make it last. I want to take it along with me whenever I have a book, so the small and flat footprint also felt ideal for this. Of course, I like the gilded edges too—the notebook looks like it could contain some important words indeed!
The notebook has 40 pages which I decided to divide somehow to make it easier to write and then later look up words. I considered separating it similarly to a dictionary, thus making my personal dictionary in a way, but it’s hard to predict the page count for each letter. In the end, I went with somewhat more loose “Noun,” “Verb,” “Adjective,” “Other,” groups for now (mine are in Polish.) I’m also considering adding a separate “Idioms” category too.
I chose gold-colored self-adhesive tags to divide the book, using just the glue parts and bending them in half. I asked Kana to write the letters with a permanent pen.
I think this will be a neat tool to get familiar with some new, more rare, words by writing down their meanings or just memorizing those I want to check thoroughly later. I also customized the small book with my logo stamp above the motto that comes pre-printed.
And now the notebook is ready to go and collect words! I even filled it the first one: “fracas,” found in Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day.”