Ever since I started keeping a journal, little black notebooks have slowly crept up on me with the stealth and pertinacity of a bad habit. Only, in this case they are a good habit. I’ve discussed the benefits of writing on paper before, and after noting some of my favorite pens, it is only natural to have a little talk about notebooks.
My habit began with a wonderful black clothbound journal from Borders. I used it for all my notes on sermons, Bible studies, and lectures. When it ran out I wasn’t able to find another, but fortunately I had received a gift from my dad right around that time of a Moleskine journal. If you don’t know about them, Moleskines are Italian-made black journals with creamy paper, sewn binding, and a whopping price tag of around $20 for the 5″x8″ versions. They have a fanatical following, but despite liking them enough to fill up a couple, I never quite understood the followers. My own opinion is that Moleskines’ pages are way too thin (I searched far and wide for gel pens that wouldn’t bleed through), and their price is too high for a notebook that I intend to use regularly. So I started searching for a little brown or black notebook with a good cover and creamy, thick paper at a reasonable price.
After several months, I made three discoveries. First, it is extremely hard to find a great notebook unless you pay tons of money (we’re talking $50 plus). Second, there are in fact a few out there worth noting (pun intended). By far the best website I’ve found about them is Black Cover, a site that describes itself as “dedicated to finding Moleskine Alternatives.” (I put it on my blogroll recently as part of a contest it’s having, but I did not break my unwritten blogroll policy of never linking to a site unless I read and enjoy most of its posts. It’s a great blog!) Finally, I discovered the Pentalic A La Modeskin Traveler’s Pocket Sketch Book. It has thick, creamy paper that none of my pens bleed through, it’s about $5, and so far it has proven durable and an excellent notebook. It has its drawbacks, notably a cheap cover, but I use it right now for most of my notes, from the trivial to the permanent.