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A Book About Notebooks

A Book About Notebooks
It's hard to believe, but up until now, we have never really had a comprehensive history of where, why, and how the notebook evolved and became what it is today. Enter Roland Allen and his new book The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper.

The Overview

We see notebooks everywhere we go. But where did this simple invention come from? How did they revolutionize our lives, and why are they such powerful tools for creativity? And how can using a notebook help you change the way you think? In this wide-ranging history, Roland Allen reveals how the notebook became our most dependable and versatile tool for creative thinking. He tells the notebook stories of Leonardo and Frida Kahlo, Isaac Newton and Marie Curie, and writers from Chaucer to Henry James; shows how Darwin developed his theory of evolution in tiny pocketbooks and Agatha Christie plotted a hundred murders in scrappy exercise books; and introduces a host of cooks, kings, sailors, fishermen, musicians, engineers, politicians, adventurers and mathematicians, who all used their notebooks as a space to think--and so shaped the modern world.

In an age of AI and digital overload, the humble notebook is more relevant than ever. Allen shows how bullet points can combat ADHD, journals can ease PTSD, and patient diaries soften the trauma of reawakening from a coma. The everyday act of moving a pen across paper can have profound consequences, changing the way we think and feel, making us more creative, more productive--and ultimately happier.

About the Author

Roland Allen grew up in London, UK, and studied English at Manchester University. After a couple of false starts, he started keeping a regular diary in his mid-twenties; this sparked an interest in journals, sketchbooks, and notebooks of all kinds and eventually prompted him to ask the question: where do notebooks come from? The answer surprised him, as did the dawning realization that notebooks had played a more important role in history than he had suspected. He has two children and lives in Brighton, UK, with his wife, son, and dog. He probably enjoys stationery a little too much.

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