Friday, December 16, 2011

Keel's Simple Diary makes journal-keeping fun and easy

Who has time to keep a diary? TASCHEN, publishers of "Philipp Keel's Simple Diary, Volume Two" ($15, Nov. 2011, flexicover), have given a lot of thought to that very question. 

Keel's Simple Diary, Volume Two, pictured at left, is a delightful little tool that allows you to reflect on your day in just a minute or two. It's the followup to Philipp Keel's Simple Diary, Volume One (2009), and "alongside its predecessor offers structure for those who don't have time to wonder, making it easy to record life's moments," according to TASCHEN.

Per the publisher, "there are three reasons why most people, although they have tried, won't keep a diary today:

1. Not every day is very eventful.
2. It actually takes a lot of discipline to write.
3. In retrospect, many find what they have written embarrassing.

In a world where products are out as soon as they're in, however, where communicating without wires doesn't come without strings, and even our accessories need accessories, we need simple tools. A book that helps us look inside because we are overloaded outside. In June of 2009, internationally acclaimed artist and writer, Philipp Keel teamed up with world-renowned art book publishing house TASCHEN to create just that via the release of Philipp Keel's Simple Diary."  

Don't know what to write about? No problem. While staring at the blank pages of a diary can be intimidating, there are witty prompts in Keel's Simple Diary.  

Each page has just a few simple fill-in-the-blanks options, starting with the date, of course. The diary inspires you to write just a line or two - whether your day was fantastic or barely a blip on the radar. 

For example, one page reads "Your day was (only choose one): a yodel, a fiddle, a doodle." Then you are prompted to explain, in just a few words, why you made the selection that you did. And with those choices it's never "the usual" response.

There's a short quote on each page. (such as: "Pioneers have one pair of pants" and "One assumes, another blooms.") 

Sometimes frivolous or serious inquiries may also be included. Recent Vol. 2 exercises included: 

  • "Normally you are hiding behind these circumstances: __________________"
  • "A high risk you take into account on a regular basis: _________________"
  • "What makes one insecure?___________________________"
  • Common sense comes and goes (check one): Yes; come on.
The diary frequently contains multiple choice options,  word associations and sometimes even illustrations (see page examples at right). 
One recent  multiple choice question my diary asked me was:

If you don't get what you want:

a) you get extremely unpleasant
b) you shrug and smile
c) you go and get it somewhere else
d) you blame it on your upbringing
e) you stomp until you get it
f) you tell everyone that you never get your way
g) you didn't want it in the first place

(I chose "d" and "g" that particular day). TASCHEN's PR group kindly sent me a review copy of the latest version of the diary (Vol. 2) in red (my favorite color, pictured below, thanks). 

It comes in several color choices, both bright and neutral, and its silver-edged thick vanilla pages are filled with little word games and queries - some serious but most so far, not. For me, it makes keeping a diary fun. I'm never sure what I'll be looking at from day to day. And I'm still reflecting on my day, just not ad nauseum.

I'd wager there are some people out there who think of this as very lazy diary-keeping. But the majority, including me, seem to appreciate the fun format.

The first Keel's Simple Diary (Vol. 1) launched in June 2009 and since has become Taschen's No. 1 bestseller in the company's 30+ year history.  Some high profile celebs are fans of the little books. Actress Rachel McAdams and TV fashion personality Tim Gunn among them.

I liked my Keel's Simple Diary, Vol. 2, so much that I wanted to purchase a couple for holiday gifts. I tried to track it down at several local bookstores and chain,s to no avail. (However, they can order it for you at Towne Book Center in Collegeville as well as at Barnes and Noble in Devon).  

It's also available on for a slightly discounted price (Recently, most colors were selling for $10.96, lime green was $1 more, for some reason). It is also available directly from the publisher at for $15.

Additionally, TASCHEN has announced the upcoming release of a Simple Diary App for iPhone and Android. If you'd like to be on the email notification list for when the app is released, sign up at 

About the Author:

Philipp Keel is an internationally acclaimed artist and writer. He is the author of the best-selling "All About Me" series with more than three million copies in print. Collections of Keel's photography and editions have been published in Look At Me, in Color and in AISA – Images from an Imaginary Continent.


TASCHEN, founded in 1980, is one of the most successful fine art book publishers in the world. TASCHEN books are distributed around the globe and published in over 20 languages.

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