My Commonplace Book: January 2021

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

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


Before he could rise to his feet, Baldwin spoke first. ‘Is there not a danger, my lord count, that Saladin will use this truce to strike at his Muslim enemies – the amirs of Aleppo and Mosul and the Assassins?’

Raymond looked surprised. ‘That is indeed a risk, my liege. But that is always true when truces are made. It is a sad truth that in times of peace, men continue to prepare for war.’

The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman (2020)


Henry will never abdicate. Nor will Marguerite. Nor will Richard be prepared to compromise. All Richard can hope for is to take up the position of Lord Protector again if Henry should slide into mental turmoil. But how is it possible to uncover such a rats’ nest of claim and counter-claim, then re-cover it, allowing it to linger and fester, the rats to grow in strength? A rats’ nest must be destroyed by a fierce ratter, for the good of all but the rats.

The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien (2020)


Astrolabe of Jean Fusoris, made in Paris, 1400

As long as science is a human activity, it will have human flaws. In this respect, perhaps the many mistakes of the Middle Ages can teach us some helpful humility, and motivate us to identify opportunities for improvement in our own day.

The Light Ages by Seb Falk (2020)


He knew that a man may live in close proximity to things he does not yet see correctly. What he must try to do is to be vigilant and attentive to all that surrounds him, in order to find the path he should follow.

Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain (2020)


“No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t tell a soul.”

“People who use that phrase are always the last to live up to it.”

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (1942)


One day, if you join polite society, you will certainly experience injustice, against which you must be forearmed. The best defence would no doubt be to match insult with insult, calumny with calumny, to fight injustice with injustice, but this way of dealing with iniquity is not within the scope of people like us. So when you are afflicted by it, withdraw and turn in upon yourself. Feed off the substance of your own soul and you will know happiness.

The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki (1810)


Semper Augustus tulip – anonymous 17th century watercolour

My mother always told me to value the beauty of nature. I remember us spending endless summer days on our hands and knees, studying plants in her garden, she explaining each flower in loving detail. I learned to appreciate the simple perfection of each bloom.

Rags of Time by Michael Ward (2019)


“If they condemn you as a sorcerer and burn you for it, then you are, for all practical purposes, a sorcerer, whether you began as one or not. Fear doesn’t need to make sense in order to have consequences.”

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (2019)


His heart flew upward like the hawk. He felt around him the seamlessness, the one-ness of the world, alive everywhere; only people with their different words for things, their different gods, broke it all to pieces.

The Soul Thief by Cecelia Holland (2002)


Frances Griffiths with the alleged Cottingley fairies, 1917

Mrs Hogan noticed the book I was carrying. ‘Black Beauty. One of my favourites. I’m glad to see you’re a keen reader. You can never have too many books or too much laughter in a house. Isn’t that right?’

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (2017)


I looked at my cousin and once again couldn’t believe that we shared the same genes.

‘If one person is missing, Marie, the world is lost.’

Ashes by Christopher de Vinck (2020)


Favourite books read in January:

The Land Beyond the Sea, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa and Rags of Time

Places visited in January:

The Holy Land, England, Borneo, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium

New authors read in January:

Seb Falk, Jan Potocki, Michael Ward, G. Willow Wilson, Christopher de Vinck


Have you read any of these books? What did you enjoy reading in January?

6 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: January 2021

  1. Judy Krueger says:

    You certainly got around the world this month plus found new authors. There are a couple of books you read that I would like to read. My favorite book read in January was Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. I posted a review of it yesterday. Happy reading in February!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I’m pleased to have read about so many different countries in January, as well as trying some new authors. Happy reading in February to you too!

  2. FictionFan says:

    You had a busy month this time! Happily the quote I like best is the one from The Manuscript Found in Saragossa – I say happily because I added it to my next CC list after your review. 🙂

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    Out of these the only one I have read is The Cottingley Secret which I really enjoyed, although it didn’t make your January favourites, I glad you were able to read it and hope you enjoyed it too. I read five books in January, which is a great start to the year for me, and my favourites were The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. Happy reading in February! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I did enjoy The Cottingley Secret, even though there were other books I read in January that I liked more. I should be posting my review in the next week or two. I’m glad you’ve had such a good start to the year!

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.