A 14 Year Old's Commonplace Book

It is very helpful to read with a commonplace book or reading-diary, in which to put down any striking thought in your author, or your own impression of the work, or of any part of it; but not summaries of facts. Such a diary, carefully kept through life, should be exceedingly interesting as containing the intellectual history of the writer; besides, we never forget the book that we have made extracts from, and of which we have taken the trouble to write a short review.
Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason 

I’ve written about my son’s commonplace book (aka ‘Reading Diary’ or quotations book) here which he started when he was about 15 years of age. Moozle started keeping hers about 18 months ago when she was about 12 and a half.  As I wrote in the post just linked, I wanted these records of their reading to be something they would initiate, but as with many things, I started the ball rolling so to speak and encouraged them to continue. I listed it as part of their weekly schedule but I basically left it up to them to choose what they wanted to record.
Often they’d read something out to me that they found interesting or amusing and I’d sometimes suggest it would be a good thing to record it. This helped them begin a habit of keeping a diary of favourite passages.
Moozle also keeps a record of scriptures and hymn lyrics in a separate notebook but that’s just something she keeps as a sort of devotional diary and isn’t a part of her regular lesson work.

Some quotations that have found their way into my 14 year old girl’s Common Place Book lately:

‘Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices.’

‘It is a very silly idea that in reading a book you must never ‘skip.’ All sensible people skip freely when they come to a chapter which they find is going to be no use to them.’
(Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis)

She liked this one, being a very fast reader! C.S. Lewis features regularly in her commonplace book. Mere Christianity is scheduled in Ambleside Online year 8 but we used another book for that year so we’ve added it to Year 9.

‘Lady Penelope looked at Lady Binks with as much regard as Balaam may have cast upon his ass when he discovered its capacity for holding an argument with him.’
(St. Ronan’s Well by Sir Walter Scott)

Moozle has read a number of Sir Walter Scott’s books this past year. She has a love/hate relationship with his books but didn’t mind this one. Redgauntlet was the best in her opinion.

‘What is worth beginning is worth finishing and what is worth doing is worth doing well.’
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason

I’m still reading Ourselves aloud to her. it’s been a good book for discussion but I wouldn’t say she particularly enjoyed it. She doesn’t enjoy green vegetables either but they’re a part of her ‘eating schedule,’ regardless.

‘One of the things I learned during my tenure at Washington is that the civics book picture of government in action is totally inaccurate. The idea that our elected officials take part in a careful decision-making process – monitoring events, reviewing options, responsibly selecting policies – has almost no connection with reality. A more accurate image would be that of a runaway train with the throttle stuck wide open – while the passengers and crew are living it up in the dining car.’
– William Simon, former U.S. secretary, treasury

The above quotation is from Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security by Richard J. Maybury. I’ve scheduled this in place of the Richard Maybury book listed in AO Year 9 for Government & Economics because we already had this book & not the other. It’s been a good fit for her this year.

‘I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.’

(From ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost, 1874-1963)

We’ve enjoyed the poetry selections in The Art of Poetry curriculum from Classical Academic Press, as well as the lessons. I reviewed it here.

‘…the painters always followed the full dinner pail. As soon as they got their chance, the musicians did likewise. They tucked their unpolished cantatas and sonatas under their arms. They left their unpaid bills behind them. They took the road that led to the north. For that was where the pot of gold awaited them at the end of the rainbow of their high C’s and their unlimited hope and ambitions. ‘ (The Arts by Hendrick Willem Van Loon)

Mr. Van Loon can be quite sarcastic at times…

6 thoughts on “A 14 Year Old's Commonplace Book

  1. Commonplace Books are such good ideas. I wish that I had kept one in life. Having one seems like it would provide a great resource both into books that one read in the past as well as into oneself.


  2. I only started keeping a 'proper' commonplace a few years ago but I've copied quotations into random places like cookbooks or other books with blank pages since I was in my teens. It is so interesting to look back at some of the passages I recorded!


  3. I've never heard them called commonplace books, but my parents gave me a blank journal when I was a teenager that I recorded favorite quotes in.The Road Less Traveled is one of my favorite poems.


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