Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper

Allen, Roland


2 in stock

2 in stock

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.

Review: ‘A notebook is evidence, process and inspiration, and Roland Allen captures it all in this sweeping survey of ideas and inventiveness. For everyone who ever bought a Moleskine and then wondered how to fill it’ – Simon Garfield

‘Transformational … it’s inspiring me to write longhand in a real paper notebook again’ – Victoria Finlay

‘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

‘Meticulously researched and intensely readable … a tantalising glimpse into the private thoughts of artists, voyagers and medics, from pre-Renaissance Florence to a Covid-filled intensive care ward’ – Giles Minton

Format: Hardback
Pages: 416
Imprint: Profile Books UK
Publication date: 02/11/2023