Notebook by Tom Cox

Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for Notebook by Tom Cox and published by Unbound.

About the Book

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.

About the Author

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.

My Review

Sometimes the most mundane of objects can be the most precious. Tom Cox found this out one day when his rucksack was stolen in a pub in Bristol. It was one of several that were left alongside the dancefloor and was probably the scruffiest and grubbiest of all of them there. Inside were £46 his debit card, a novel, car keys, phone and charger and a black Moleskine notebook. He had a fraught 24 hours sorting things out, getting back home for the spare car keys and having to rely on the generosity of friends.

The memory of the things that were taken have long since faded, but the thing that he misses the most, even now, was the notebook. In there were his most random and intimate thoughts about anything and everything that he considered worthy of committing to paper. Not only has he got a gap in all the notebooks that he has ever had, it felt like amnesia that he could never recover.

A solid cooking rule to follow is to remember that when recipes say ‘add two cloves of garlic’, it’s always a misprint and what they actually mean is six.

Whilst there wasn’t notes for a specific book in its pages, there were notes that might appear in some form or other in something that he was yet to write. He would often discover these musings as he flicked back and forwards through his notebooks and be able to expand on them for the book he was currently writing. A lot of the stuff he scribbles down though is not really for publication, but some of it is and this is what appears in these pages.

‘Weird’ very rarely means ‘weird’. A lot of the time it’s just a word that boring people use to describe people with an imagination.

Having a glimpse inside someone’s mind can be a thing of terror! Thankfully in the case of Tom Cox, the musings repeated in here are as random as they are wide-ranging. There is gentle humour and profound insight into that particular day’s observation. One moment you are reading about what he is going to do with the 3000 courgettes that he has bought back from his parents home, the next about haircuts. There are snippets on books, words, spiders, mugs, cats, February and maps. There is of course his dad in the note, as loud as ever, and his mum had created the art that prefaces the beginning of each chapter.

Drunk people rarely make good romantic choices. The problem is where the drinking takes place. Bookshops, that’s where people should drink.

Like Cox, I have a thing for notebooks too. I do have nine others that I have bought and not yet used. I am currently using a Star Wars Moleskine. Along with notebooks, I do have a thing for decent pens and pencils and I normally use a uni-ball eye micro and have a drawer full of Staedtler pencils. I must admit that I am a big fan of Tom Cox too, in particular his books on natural history and landscape that take a very different perspective on writing about the outdoors compared to other authors. This book is very different from those, but in lots of ways, it is the same. His unconventional way of looking at life is evident through those snippets they have selected for inclusion in here and it is a joy to read.

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour

Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here

My thanks to Anne Cater from Random Thing Tours for arranging a copy of the book to read.

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6 Comments

  1. Helen Williams

    This sounds so good, Paul. One to add to the wish list.

    • Paul

      I think that you’d like it

  2. annecater

    Huge thanks for the blog tour support Paul x

    • Paul

      You are very welcome, Anne. At least it was online this time which was last night’s worry!

  3. kaggsysbookishramblings

    As a fellow stationery addict, I’m intrigued!!

    • Paul

      Be aware that it is the random mutterings from his notebooks, rather than musings on particular notebooks. Still worth reading through, as if you have read some of his other books then you will get a feeling for how he develops his narrative.

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