Have you ever read a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, that caused you to catch your breath and think I can’t lose this, I’ve got to hold onto it somehow, preserve it, remember it when I need it or want to share it’ because those words you just read moved you with their beauty or insight, brought tears or laughter, or reached right down into your soul in a flash of self-revelation? I have. I think every reader has.
For as long as I can remember, as long as I have been reading, I’ve defaced my books with underlining, starring, circling, scribbling in margins, on back pages, title pages, spilling over to scraps of paper, random notebooks, furiously trying to hoard every word-treasure I came across. It all piled up in this or that corner of my life. I worried that I would never be able to experience again a certain unique moment of transcendence because it could only be re-lived through that one perfectly-worded written expression – that I had lost.
So – I have begun this virtual commonplace book. I want to gather up as many of my memorable readings as I can and save them (and savor them again). If I am diligent about it, I think it will be interesting to look back on myself through the prism of the books I’ve read and the authors who have spoken to me.
But above all, these posts are thank-you notes for which I have no mailing addresses (or for occupants long gone). They are notes of a grateful fan, notes of appreciation for readings that entertain me, awe me, teach me, inspire me, and, so often, restore me. May they never let me go.