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The journal for the person who can't write

June 4, 2009 |  3:01 pm


When I was a kid I tried to keep a diary, but after a few weeks of "went to school, went to Girl Scouts, went to ballet class, read," I realized that my life was far too uninteresting to bother writing down.

That was before the birth of "Keel's Simple Diary" from publisher Taschen. About the same size and shape as a Moleskine notebook, in candy colors, the diaries are full of pages that have been started for people like me. Mad Libs-style, each page has a space for the date, a thought or emotion and multiple-choice prompts. And the bits and ideas that spread out on those pages are actually interesting. Such as:

( ) You cope. ( ) You hope. ( ) You dope. ( ) You know.

Who gets away with it? __________________________

Exposed to harsh criticism, people make an effort to respond a) with irony. b) too soon, too seriously. c) shocked. d) as cruelly as you let them. e) with fake detachment. f) with a forced veneer of understanding.

Remember to: 1. make it easy. 2. give it all. 3. spit it out. 4. get it done. 5. rub it in. 6. let it go.

Author Philipp Keel, according to his website, likes palm trees so he lives in L.A. -- except when he's in Zurich. He says it's his response to "having too much information and not enough meaning." Because these starter entries fill the book, they encourage a bit of thought, although not a lot of words. "It gave me structure and a way to turn off the noise of everything being too much, and hear what I really thought," Keel says.

Taschen notes that it's the company's first book to "feature" text -- leaving just enough room in the margins for the hopeful diarist to begin to work out her own ideas. And to prompt something more interesting than "went to work, went to the store, read the Internet."

"Keel's Simple Diaries," one of which landed in our book room some time ago, go on sale June 14.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image credits: Taschen