The book is laid out like a diary with 1800ish entries from 170 diarists spread throughout the year. Some contributors are very famous diary-keepers such as Benn, Pepys and Waugh but others are more obscure (although that could just be me!) and the dipping in and out of such a wide variety of lives being lived across several centuries is where the real joy of this book comes from. There is a useful, albeit brief, biography section at the end of the book which I have already used several times. Occasionally it is frustrating to read an entry when you don’t understand the context but luckily there is a solution…
I Wrote On The Pages!! I’ve seen the “do you or don’t you?” topic debated before and I felt that this was a good choice of book to test my nerve on. I am happy to report that it’s been a very liberating experience and I have enjoyed scrawling in the margins such illuminating notes to my future self as “more context” and “Who is she? Find out.” So far the writing is in pencil as I just could not bring myself to write in pen but we’ll see how that rule fares when I don’t have one to hand.
I look forward to my daily dose of this book throughout the year and I already have plans to dig out my copy of Waugh’s collected diaries (that I had forgotten I owned) and to buy several others…. Does the booklist ever stop growing?
Oh – and in case you are wondering where the title comes from (as Mr B and I were): “A diary is an assassin’s cloak which we wear when we stab a comrade in the back with a pen” – Willian Soutar, 1934.