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The Notebook

A History of Thinking on Paper: A New Statesman and Spectator Book of the Year

Roland Allen



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07 November 2023
The Notebook has shaped the world for eight hundred years. In medieval Italy, the blank ledger transformed international trade, and enabled the intellectual artistic advances of the Renaissance. At sea, the invention of the logbook expanded horizons on the journeys of Magellan and fellow discoverers. Artists from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso, thinkers from Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein, writers from Chaucer to Henry James: all created work forged in their notebooks.

In The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper, Roland Allen follows a trail of ideas, revealing how the notebook came to be our most durable tool for thinking. He tells the stories of its development through table-books and diaries, common-placing and journaling, and the lives of those who relied upon it: from Darwin hatching the idea of evolution to Clara Nguyen creating a restaurant business from family recipe books. Along the way we meet sailors and fishermen, musicians and engineers, travellers and politicians. We hear how Bruce Chatwin inspired Maria Segrebondi to create the Moleskine, how Agatha Christie plotted a hundred murders and Bob Dylan drafted Blood on the Tracks, how bullet-journaling can combat ADHD and patient diaries ease the traumas of reawakening from a coma.

There is a bigger issue, too. In this age of AI and digital overload, a blank notebook and the act of moving a pen across paper can change the way we think.

Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 236mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 38mm
Weight:   760g
ISBN:   9781788169325
ISBN 10:   1788169328
Pages:   416
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Roland Allen is a publisher and author who lives in Hove. He studied at Manchester University and works in book (and notebook) publishing. He has written about subjects as diverse as bicycles and bread, kept a diary for decades, and enjoys stationery a little too much.

Reviews for The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper: A New Statesman and Spectator Book of the Year

A glorious celebration of my all-time favourite object from its earliest incarnations to its funkiest forms. In his always interesting history of thinking on paper, Roland Allen has confected a scintillating cornucopia of notebook miscellany -- Sara Wheeler, author * Glowing Still * When something significant happens in the development of human ideas, , the same simple object is employed, humble and unassuming, yet endlessly versatile and powerful: a notebook. It allowed the quick-witted, fast moving young Beatles-to-be to capture their spontaneous inventions, just as it allowed Einstein to grind through mathematical operations of horrific complexity on his way to elegant breakthroughs -- Roly Allen * The Notebook *

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