A peek inside my Tolkien Commonplace Book

Some time ago, I received this beautiful pocket Moleskine Limited Edition with the map from The Hobbit and I treasured it for years because I couldn’t find the “perfect” way to use it. I didn’t want to use it for my day-to-day tasks and notes (bullet journaling) because I wanted to be able to have a purpose for flipping through the pages in the future as well. I didn’t want to use it as a personal journal because my entries tend to be very stream of consciousness heavy and I never go back re-read them. So, it stayed in my closet until I decided to copy my friend Maria and jot down a perpetual calendar of Middle-earth events.

I was very excited about it. I decided to keep it very simple and use a ballpoint pen (hence my crappy handwriting) since the Moleskine paper doesn’t handle fountain pen ink very well, but also to remove the pressure to have the most Instagram-worthy pages ever. However, once I was finished, the pages used were only 46 and I had no idea on how to use the rest of the notebook. Another year passed and my Moleskine remained unused in my desk drawer until a couple of months ago when I finished my thesis.

Suddenly, a huge sense of relief made me want to start studying again the things that passionate me the most, so I decided to turn my Moleskine in a Tolkien-themed Commonplace Book.

This is something I always wanted to do because I wanted to get back into the First and Second Age to dust off my knowledge about the events before the release of the upcoming Amazon TV show.

I decided to simply number the even pages (so lazy, I know!) and create a simple index at the end (bullet journal style), not the typical index by topic/letter you’d find in a proper Commonplace Book.

When I start a new entry, I usually add a simple title or keyword at the top left corner and frame it to make it stand out more. Then, I write my notes in bullet form or copy some quotes from books and articles. I usually write in English in my notebook but sometimes I write in Italian too, but there isn’t a specific rule in my mind.

This is not a proper academic research, so I don’t have a bibliography at the end of the book nor correctly formatted citations, it’s basically a “just for myself” notebook to keep my notes and thoughts somehow organized. So far, I’m really enjoying it and I’m planning to use the other pocket Moleskine Limited Edition I have in the same way, once this one will be finished. It would be nice to build a small library of pocket Commonplace Books!

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10 thoughts on “A peek inside my Tolkien Commonplace Book

  1. What a beautiful notebook! I’m the same way with a few leather-bound notebooks that I have. My daily journalling and notes feel far too messy to soil those beautiful pages. But I did manage to dedicate one to sketches and took it once to the Egyptian Museum to draw some sketches with an artist friend of mine πŸ™‚ They didn’t turn out very well, but it felt good to be productive and to finally crack it open.

    I’ve never read much Tolkien but it sounds like such a rich landscape to dive into.. I think you’ve found the perfect use for your notebook and yes it feels great to know it doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy.

    Dee ~ Vanilla Papers

  2. Love it. That’s a beautiful notebook and you found a cool way to use it. I have a couple notebooks that don’t have anything written in them. Still waiting for inspiration to strike.

  3. I had never heard the term “commonplace book” before, but after reading up on it I can say I love the concept! And making a Tolkien-themed one sounds like the perfect project! πŸ˜€ I like that you’ve written a timeline. That must be very helpful to get an easy overview of when and in which order events occur. I definitely need to brush up on Middle-earth history too – and figure out how Amazon Prime works before the show starts…

    Also, that book is beautiful! I always have a hard time using very nice notebooks if I don’t have a “proper” use for them. There are currently two big notebooks with nice faux leather covers on my desk and they honestly intimidate me a bit. πŸ˜… But now I have some inspiration! It would be fun trying to make a commonplace book of my own. πŸ™‚

  4. What a great way to fill a special notebook! I’ve never heard of a commonplace book before, but now that I have I realize that I recently started one on Buddhism. I have been listening through the Secular Buddhism Podcast and am taking notes on the episodes in a special notebook.

    I am feeling inspired now to keep notebooks of knowledge about everything lol. I have a very nice Harry Potter notebook with a Ravenclaw crest that will be the perfect commonplace book about the series and all it’s lore.

    1. So glad my post allowed you to discover Commonplace Books! It’s an amazing practice and way to use notebooks. A Harry Potter one sounds great!! There are so many spells, names and places to remember from the books.

  5. I am huge Tolkien fan too! Well… I’ve only read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit… but I’ve been a huge fan of them since I was a kid and own a ton of various LOTR themed stuff. I definitely want to read more Tolkien work sometime!

    I love this idea you had for the moleskine notebook! Now you can look back on it in the future and it won’t be filled with random notes or have pages torn out (like most of my notebooks…haha). Also, your writing is super neat! Mine is such a mess, haha.

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