My Commonplace Book: October 2020

A selection of words and pictures to represent October’s reading:

commonplace book
a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.


“It must have been her peak period,” Stephen smiles. “People sometimes go through their whole lives without ever reaching the moment when they are exactly the person they want to be.”

As he talks away, building upward and outward like a sleepy child with bricks, I think about the hidden talent or uniqueness of character that lies sealed within most of us; how it is like the work of a sculptor who sees within a block of marble a trapped masterpiece and must chip and grind until it is released.

Every Eye by Isobel English (1956)


Replica East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company

The downtrodden yearned for stories to explain their misfortunes, though what they really wanted was somebody to blame for their misery. It was impossible to set fire to the blight that had ruined your crops, but a blight was easily summoned by a witch, at which point any poor woman or man would do.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (2020)


‘Ridiculous. They ought not to allow so much to be printed! Why, if you read a hundred pages a day, which is more than anyone ought to read – that would be thirty-five thousand a year – say a hundred thousand in three years, a million in thirty years. If you started to read on the day you were born you would have read this library – just once, mind you – when you were between a hundred and twenty and a hundred and fifty years old. Fiddlesticks.’

The Ghost It Was by Richard Hull (1936)


‘Yes, sir, although I shouldn’t really, you know. It’s bad for servants talking about their masters outside.’

This seemed to voice the well-known below-stairs ethics of bygone days. You mustn’t, if you were in service, talk to your ‘betters’ about your employers, although, to your equals in similar jobs, you could say as much as you liked.

Dead March for Penelope Blow by George Bellairs (1951)


St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

There had to be a flaw, since there is no such thing as perfection, in life or art or anything else. Perfection tempts fate. I remember reading that ancient Japanese potters always worked a tiny flaw into each pot they created, for fear of angering the gods…

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson (2008)


Favourite books read in October:

Every Eye and Dead March for Penelope Blow

New authors read in October:

Isobel English

Countries visited in my October reading:

Indonesia, England, Morocco


Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy reading in October?

8 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: October 2020

  1. Judy Krueger says:

    You have been reading many books that interest me. My goal each day is to read 100 pages. I did not do well on that this past week but my month was good overall. Happy reading in November.

  2. Lark says:

    Love the quotes you chose! Especially that first one about “reaching the moment when they are exactly the person they want to be.” I think I’m still waiting for that moment in my life. 🙂

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    I haven’t read any of these books, Helen and as you know, I only read two books myself in Otober, although they were both great reads! Happy reading in November and take care in this new lockdown. 👋📚🙂

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