Sure, sex is great, but have you ever cracked open a new notebook and written something on the first page with a really nice pen? The story behind Notebook starts with a minor crime: the theft of Tom Cox’s rucksack from a Bristol pub in 2018.
In that rucksack was a journal containing ten months worth of notes, one of the many Tom has used to record his thoughts and observations over the past twelve years. It wasn’t the best he had ever kept – his handwriting was messier than in his previous notebook, his entries more sporadic – but he still grieved for every one of the hundred or so lost pages. This incident made Tom appreciate how much notebook-keeping means to him: the act of putting pen to paper has always led him to write with an unvarnished, spur-of-the-moment honesty that he wouldn’t achieve on-screen.
Here, Tom has assembled his favourite stories, fragments, moments and ideas from those notebooks, ranging from memories of his childhood to the revelation that ‘There are two types of people in the world. People who f*cking love maps, and people who don’t.’ The result is a book redolent of the real stuff of life, shot through with Cox’s trademark warmth and wit.
Wordsworth got it right lots of the time. The thing that always stood out to me in his writing was the idea of ‘spots of time’ He explains it a lot better than me here:
There are in our existence spots of time which with distinct preeminence retain a fructifying virtue, whence, depressed by trivial occupations and the round of ordinary intercourse, our minds, especially the imaginative power, are nourished, and invisibly repaired.
Tom’s wonderful book is full of these little moments that you can dip in and out of always coming away that bit more restored. reflective and revitalised. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare to lose something that they know that they can never get back. I dropped a favourite bag off a bridge over 20 years ago and even though the things in it weren’t financially valuable – some letters, a necklace a book Ioved and had read a million times – they were worth a lot to me and I think that’s why I got such a lot out of Tom’s beautifully eclectic treasurebox of a book when I read it over the last few weeks.
I have read all of Tom’s books and follow his delightfully original musings on social media too. I was full of curiosity to read this book as I felt like it would almost be the reading equivalent of going through somebody’s drawers when they were out – happily it wasn’t exactly like that, but I do feel that I now know Tom and his family a lot better than I did before the lockdown. It’s a bit like they run a virtual Air BNB that I’ve had the chance to go and stay a weekend in and I’ve come away feeling like part of the extended family now…
What I loved about the book was the feeling of getting to know Tom in a wholly different way from his other writings, through being able to turn the pages and read snippets of his journals and hear his inner thoughts and feelings through all the different parts of his life and experiences. The illustrations really add to it and it’s like being lost in a riotously messy bookshop, where you just don’t know what corner you’l turn next and what you will discover
I absolutely loved this intriguing and original book that has a little bit of everything, family relationships, nature, philosophy and everythig else in between You do not have to be a notebook addict yourself to get drawn into this book but i think if you’ve ever kept one (or it’s kept you) then you will find much to connect with, think about and delight you here. I kept reading little bits of it aloud and turning the page to a random section which made me feel so liberated and joyous about reviewing ir, rather than a traditionally linear book…
If you are intrigued by my review of Tom’s writing and would like to read more about his life, his thoughts and his unique take on emptying his mind in his own inimitable way, then definitely buy yourself a copy of this fascinating read. It’s simply magical and I can’t recommend it highly enough
Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me along on this unforgettable blog tour, it’s been the reading highlight of my spring season so far and i’ll be recommending it to anyone who’s lost their reading mojo, to get them back into enjoying reading for reading’s sake once again.
Writer On The Shelf
Tom Cox lives in Norfolk. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling The Good, The Bad and The Furry and the William Hill Sports Book longlisted Bring Me the Head of Sergio Garcia. 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize, and the titular story of Help the Witch won a Shirley Jackson Award.