**UPDATE: I bought a scale and have added the weights of each notebook in the photos below. I have finally figured out my weigh threshold! Details below.
As you may have read in my Journal Evaluation 2013 post, in January I'm switching from using a dated day per page diary as my daily record and journal (as I've been using this year) to an undated notebook for more freedom and flexibility of use in a slimmer and lighter book. Whatever notebook I use has big shoes to fill, because I adore the Time Traveler day per page diary I've been using this year. The soft cover and white paper are so pleasing to me.
So I started going through my enormous notebook stash to choose which one I would use first. I want something that I will enjoy using as much as my Time Traveler diary.
I'm stumped. Of all the notebooks I own, none jump out at me as The Perfect Notebook. Cue new quest!
First of all, I already have such a ridiculous number of notebooks I really cannot justify purchasing another one. And anyway, half the reason to use a notebook instead of a dated diary is to start using up my stash. So my choices are limited to my considerable selection of notebooks already on my shelf.
But, please post comments with your notebook recommendations for future purchases! I'm always on the lookout for a better notebook. Please keep in mind I'm in the UK and I try to avoid ordering from other countries because the import taxes and fees are outrageous.
Here are my criteria for The Perfect Notebook:
1. Size: it must be between 5 by 7 inches and 6 by 8 1/2 inches. Bigger is too big, smaller is too small.
2. It must have a sufficient number of pages to last at least a few months, but not so many pages that the book is too thick and heavy.
3. I must enjoy the paper. Bonus points for white, smooth and thick. Points removed for too dark paper, and pen bleed-through.
4. I must enjoy the cover. Interesting, attractive, and nice to hold. Bonus points for soft, I love soft-feeling covers.
5. At this point I am only considering bound books, no spiral binding (of which I have several) and absolutely no ring binders (of which I have many).
6. It must stay open on its own! It doesn't need to lie dead flat, but it must stay open on a surface without self-closing.
7. It can't be too heavy. That's why I decided to stop using a dated diary, so half the point of a notebook is to use something that's easier to carry around.
8. Line ruling between 5.5 and 6.5 mm. Wider wastes page space, narrower cramps my handwriting.
9. It can't be too expensive or too difficult to replace. This is the notebook I'll use for everyday stuff. I can't feel like the notebook is too precious to write as much as I want in.
***UPDATE: 10. I finally bought a scale and weighed all of these books. After some weighing and experimenting I discovered my threshold of how much weight I want carry for my notebook and planner combined is 700g. My weekly Plannerisms planner weighs in at 324g, which means my notebook ideally will be below 376g.
Surely that's not asking too much, is it??
Below are the notebooks in my stash that come closest to fitting the criteria above, but shockingly none of them fit all the criteria. I have shown my 2013 Time Traveler diary in the top left for size comparison. The Time Traveler is 6 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall and is the upper limit of what I want to carry.
*Update: my Time Traveler daily diary weighs 503g, so the weight of it combined with my Plannerisms planner totals 827, above my threshold of 700g. (Incidentally, I also weighed my A5 Filofax, which tipped the scales at 1039g. So for those of you who wonder why I don't use an A5 Filo instead of my bound books, that's why.)
All of these notebooks are *almost* perfect, but miss the mark somehow. Here's what I mean:
First up: the large Moleskine Hobbit notebook.
The large Moleskine notebook is the perfect size, in my opinion, so I will use it as scale for the other notebooks. And at 342g it is well below my threshold of 376g. Below I have shown it next to my Time Traveler diary to show it is slightly narrower. And of course since it is a notebook with fewer pages than the day per page diary, it is less bulky.
More things I like about it: It lays flat. I like this Hobbit cover. It has my favorite ruling, 6mm. I like the layout of the page with space at the top and 30 lines below. It wins points in all categories except for the paper, which has a lot of annoying show-through and even some bleed through with my pen of choice (Uni-ball Signo RT 0.7).
I haven't filled up a page with writing yet to see how much the show-through would annoy me. And because Moleskine's paper tends to change, it's not much use to try it on a different Moleskine notebook to test it. But below you can see where I used this pen to start numbering the pages. Not only is the 3 annoyingly visible from the opposite side of the page, but so is the 2 from the previous page.
You may remember from my post late last year that I intended to use this notebook as my journal this year, but later decided to use a dated day per page instead. So, I've been excited about this book for a year now and would like to use it. Despite the paper, it wins in all the other categories and is a contender for the notebook I will start using in January.
The other major contender for my January notebook is the Alwych 5 by 8 inch notebook:
|5 by 8 inch Alwych notebook 328g|
The paper is nicer than Moleskine paper, and I like the colored page edges. This would be perfect, but heartbreakingly it doesn't stay open on its own! I don't know if it eventually would with training.
The next runner-up is the Daycraft Signature notebook I got recently. I used one of these a few years ago as a self-drawn planner and really enjoyed the soft cover and smooth paper.
|Daycraft A5 Signature softcover notebook 325g|
used another Daycraft Signature notebook last month, the Inspiro, and as much as I enjoyed it I would like to use something new, like the Hobbit or Alwych. Still, this would be a safe one to use as a trial because it's easy for me to get another one here.
Here's one that's so close but missed the mark: the Rhodia Webnotebook. It's the perfect size, the soft cover feels nice, and the paper is smooth and thick. But here's where it falls down. A minor issue is the prominent branding on the front. Come on Rhodia, put this on the back cover at the bottom please.
|Rhodia large Webnotebook 364g|
Below are two Paperblanks notebooks I love: the Ultra Darwin journal (left) and the Midi Lindau journal (right).
|Paperblanks Darwin Ultra journal 574g, Lindau Midi journal 284g|
The Ultra journal on the left measures 7 by 9 inches, too big to carry with me everywhere. Update: when I weighed this book I discovered it's 574g! Definitely over my weight threshold of what I'm willing to carry around. The Midi journal on the right is 4 3/4 by 6 3/4 inches and only 284g. As nicely portable as that is, I need a page size of about 5 by 8 inches each day so this is too small. I have shown the large Moleskine in the middle as the just-right size.
Below is the large Moleskine next to a Leuchtturm notebook I partly used a few years ago. Leuchtturm paper is superior to Moleskine paper by miles, and has the added advantage of numbered pages and an Index already built into the book.
|Moleskine (L) 342g, Leuchtturm (R) 391g|
Below you can see the width difference with the Mole:
I used Leuchtturm dotted notebooks as my self-drawn weekly Plannerisms planners before they were published, so I know I enjoy using these notebooks. This particular notebook is unlined, but in the future I may spring for a soft-cover ruled Leuchtturm. That just might become my notebook of choice.
Here are some Clairefontaine notebooks that are so close yet so far away. Below I have shown them with the large Moleskine again for scale.
|Clairefontaine A5 harcover (L) 421g, Fabric bound (R) 295|
First of all, the hard cover one on the left is too big. I measure it at 6 3/4 inches wide and more than 8 1/2 inches tall, which makes it bigger than I want to carry. *Update: at 421g it's definitely past my threshold of 376g.
What I want is a Moleskine or Rhodia-like cover. Rhodia is made by the same parent company as Clairefontaine, but I've already discussed why I don't like the Rhodia's dark paper. Exaclair, please put white Clairefontaine paper in a Rhodia webbie cover! If that existed, it would be my perfect notebook.
The Habana notebooks come close. The covers are wonderful but the notebooks are more expensive than I want to spend for my everyday notebook, and size is an issue: the large is too big (6 1/4 by 9 1/2 inches) and the small is too small (4 by 6 inches).
So, you see my dilemma. I have a lot of excellent notebooks, but none are exactly what I want.
I haven't yet decided on which notebook I will start using in January, but I will let you know when I decide. I need to choose the right one, a notebook I enjoy and that works well for me. I'm afraid of my notebook experiment failing because of using a notebook I don't really enjoy or that doesn't fit my needs well enough, causing me to stop using it.
Do you know a notebook that fits my criteria above? Please post a comment so the next time I'm notebook shopping I can check them out!