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Live & Learn: Real Life Journals

Designing & Using Handmade Books

Keeping a journal can be fulfilling and creative—whether you’re recording your daily thoughts, documenting your travels, trying a new hobby, or gaining new understanding of your life through written expression. And when you design your own journal, you can enrich the whole experience. “We all reach a point in our lives when we realize that we know better than anyone else just what we need and want,” says author Gwen Diehn. “After all, only you can know how you want to use your journal and what you want it to do for you.”

Live & Learn: Real Life Journals, the second book in AARP’s Live & Learn series, shows how to design and make a custom journal that you’ll really want to use—from a flexible notebook you can roll up and slip into your back pocket to an satin-covered journal with elegant paper. This book is loaded with practical tips, inspiring photos, and how-to advice.

In Live & Learn: Real Life Journals, author Gwen Diehn covers the entire process of creating a journal from design to completion.

First, complete the “Design Inventory” to get a clear idea of how you want to use this journal. The choices you make (such as book size, binding, paper, and cover) will be used to design your book.

“Choose Your Own Bookbinding Adventure,” using the 32-page booklet stored in the envelope inside the front cover, to help you determine the type of journal that will meet your needs. You’ll then be directed to one of 16 book forms and 10 covers that will best work for you.

For inspiration, go through the design process with nine people who wanted to a journal for very different purposes. Read their stories and see their results, along with examples of their journal pages.

Follow the bookbinding 101 instructions to make the book of your choice. A handy removable foldout, “Bookbinding Essentials,” stored in an envelope inside the back cover, gives basic instructions needed for every project. Keep it on your worktable and refer to it as needed.

Although anyone interested in journaling and making books will enjoy this unique book, this activity can be especially meaningful for the 45+ audience. In the second half of life, we are better at knowing our own needs and wishes—and what better way to spend time than to travel, learn new things, and reflect on what’s important in our lives. AARP’s Live & Learn: Real Life Journals invites you to make and use various kinds of journals to broaden and enhance the adventures of the coming years.

180 pages, all in color.