My Commonplace Book: November 2020

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

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


It wasn’t until several days late that Maloin wondered why he hadn’t called for help. The fact was, he just hadn’t thought of it. When you imagine something dramatic, you think you’ll do this or that. But when you’re there, it’s different.

The Man from London by Georges Simenon (1934)


“If you’d only begin at the beginning!” pleaded Sobel.

“But that’s so hard, isn’t it? Because nothing ever really has a beginning. There’s always something before that and something before that and so on. That’s why modern authors always begin in the middle, though I do think it’s awfully confusing, and I never get the characters straightened out afterward.”

Dance of Death by Helen McCloy (1938)


Bram Stoker, c. 1906

Flo: These abstractions of the artist hold little interest for me, I’m afraid. I choose to live in the real world.

He: Ah, the real world, that vile dungeon of cruelty and hunger. You are welcome to it.

Flo: It must be a very heavy burden to think that of the world.

He: I never trust a thinker – to feel is the only calling. But without what we do as artists your real world would be less bearable, no?

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor (2019)


‘Yes, of course. One always regrets everything one hasn’t done. But it’s not that. I can’t bear totting up what one gets or doesn’t get out of life as though it were a commercial proposition.’

‘Surely one must try and get the most out of life and not miss any chances,’ Barney replied, in the voice of one who states the first article of a religion.

Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin (1924)


The others were heading back to the mob, which now seemed to me like a swarm of flies on rotten fruit. Was this what men do when they go into battle, I wondered? Must they become insects in order to survive? I felt no comradeship with them, no common cause. I was a different kind of man entirely.

The Butcher of Berner Street by Alex Reeve (2020)


Portrait of George Eliot c. 1849

It is an old story, that men sell themselves to the tempter, and sign a bond with their blood, because it is only to take effect at a distant day; then rush on to snatch the cup their souls thirst after with an impulse not the less savage because there is a dark shadow beside them for evermore. There is no short cut, no patent tram-road, to wisdom: after all the centuries of invention, the soul’s path lies through the thorny wilderness which must be still trodden in solitude, with bleeding feet, with sobs for help, as it was trodden by them of old time.

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot (1859)


Happily, we are not dependent on argument to prove that Fiction is a department of literature in which women can, after their kind, fully equal men. A cluster of great names, both living and dead, rush to our memories in evidence that women can produce novels not only fine, but among the very finest — novels, too, that have a precious speciality, lying quite apart from masculine aptitudes and experience. No educational restrictions can shut women out from the materials of fiction, and there is no species of art which is so free from rigid requirements. Like crystalline masses, it may take any form, and yet be beautiful; we have only to pour in the right elements — genuine observation, humour, and passion.

Silly Novels by Lady Novelists by George Eliot (1856)


Favourite books read in November:

Still She Wished for Company, The Butcher of Berner Street and Dance of Death

Countries visited in my November reading:

France, USA, England, Ireland

Authors read for the first time in November:

Georges Simenon, Helen McCloy


Have you read any of these? What did you read in November?

7 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: November 2020

Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.