Hunting for the perfect notebook

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2017

Great ideas deserve a great notebook, but how do you choose one if you are a notebook geek who has trouble choosing only one because you want them all? Maybe you keep one for sporadic ideas, one for short stories, one for articles, and one for each of your travel projects. Plus a few more to suit your moods. Maybe you want to jot down your memoir notes in notebooks durable enough to be kept in a box in the attic for your descendants to discover them decades from now. Or how about a notebook that can be used in the shower or emptied in the microwave?

Writing advice #1: Write. Writing advice #2: Always carry a notebook and pen with you. Ideas pop up when you least expect it, everywhere. If you don’t grab them as they pass by, they might fade away and move on in search for another author – maybe one who does carry paper and pen and writes the story you were supposed to write.

So far I haven’t found THE one perfect notebook. On a daily basis, I use a simple reporter’s pad for quick notes, and several small notebooks for article ideas and big thoughts. Functionality and cover matter:

  • The notebooks must be small and thin enough to fit in the bag.
  • They must open flat, without the annoying bump in the middle, so I can use the whole page.
  • They should have an elastic band that keeps the book neatly closed in the bag.
  • The cover helps spark the inspiration. At the moment I’m in a black/white mode and was thrilled to find two retro style notebooks from Go Stationery, one with dots and the other with stripes.


Time to take it to the next level, but what should I choose?

Not a bad word about Moleskines, but they are everywhere and I want something else. I have checked out five alternatives and think I have found two favorites: Leuchtturm for functionality, with numbered pages and a table of contents page. Paperblanks with inspiring covers, perfect for the Great Novel.

With their slogan “Details make all the difference,” Leuchtturm offers a functionality perfect for my everyday needs: quality paper, numbered pages and a blank TOC page, a sticker for labeling and archiving, and several perforated, detachable sheets. It has the elastic enclosure I always look for and opens flat. With sizes from A4 to A7 to choose from, I’m considering one in A6 pocket size and one a little bigger in A5 in anthracite or emerald, complete with a pen loop. Pens tend to disappear, only to reappear in unexpected places.


Baron Fig
Easy on the eyes and easy to use, Baron Fig says about their notebooks. They open completely flat. Choose for instant a Confidant with hardcover or a Vanguard with softcover, both available in small, medium and large. The smallest size fits in the pocket.


Opens flat

Field Notes
The standard product is a 48-page memo book that measures 3.5 by 5.5 inches (9 by 14 cm). Comes in 3-packs for less than 10 USD.


Another popular Field Notes option is Expedition, which boasts waterproof and tear-resistant paper that withstands the elements. It has been tested on an expedition to the South Pole and back.

High-end leather notebooks that can even be used with fountain pens. Take a look at Ciak, available in nine colors.


Artistic notebooks featuring stylish covers with classic patterns, as if tailor-made for creative writing. Available in various sizes and different types of closures: elastic band, magnetic strap/wrap or metal clasp. Opens flat and bump-free. Below: ornamental Azure, Serenade in art deco style, and Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes.


Empty the notebook in the microwave or take notes in the shower

Rocketbook Wave
When you use your Rocketbook Wave with a Pilot FriXion pen, you can save the content in the cloud using a smartphone and then put the notebook in the microwave for 30 seconds to erase the content and make the book ready for another cycle of use. Boil a cup of tea water at the same time. See the video below.

Not only water but also ideas flow freely in the shower – and they disappear as quickly as anywhere else. AquaNotes is a waterproof notepad that attaches to the wall in the shower. EpicReviewGuys has taken it for a test ride:

See also:

The Pocket Notebooks of 20 Famous Men
Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci always carried a notebook with them.

Notebook Stories
Facebook page for serious notebook enthusiasts


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