Posts Tagged ‘moleskine’

Why??? (My despair concerning leather notebooks)

I’m a vegetarian, buy products not tested on animals, eat free-range organic eggs (I couldn’t be a vegan; I really like chocolate chip cookies!), and don’t purchase leather products. I simply won’t support that industry (I will admit to caving once on a secondhand product that may or may not have been genuine leather; I still tell myself it wasn’t, but I really don’t have any idea), and won’t have some poor cow’s skin as my sofa cushion or, as is more pertinent here, notebook cover. It really frustrates me to find a notebook I like in the store, and then start reading the product details, only to find out there are animal products involved. It’s part of why I like Moleskines; the generic alternatives may be cheaper, but the Target version, for example (Markings notebooks, I think they’re called), has a bonded leather cover. It’s entirely possible to get very leather-like results without the animal death these days; that’s why I have to check the tags! So for me, leather notebooks are something that are entirely avoidable, and a positive not just for me, but for the companies, I think: a few people might put down a nice product because it isn’t genuine leather, but I’d say there are more who would put it into their shopping basket if no animal byproducts were involved, than would give up on something they liked just because it included a dead animal. Think on this, please, office supply industry!

My Notebooks In Use

Right now, I have five notebooks important enough to not be stored, important enough to spend time out on a table instead of in the box under my bed with all the not-currently-in-use notebooks. Reviews of all will be coming. When I’m in school, as I will be again in January, I obviously use more, but not in school, just five. These are the five:

1. Quotes. I don’t know if this really counts as currently in use, because all the pages have something on them, but I keep it out. Each page has one quote that is in some way meaningful to me or inspiring or something. I keep it out in case I need to find one, for whatever reason. It’s a Paperblanks book with a magnetic clasp called “Soul & Tears Mini” from Laurel Burch’s Spirit of Womankind collection.

2. Thoughts/quotes. This is the blank pocket Moleskine, and I use it to write down quotes, thoughts, poems–anything I want to remember, I guess, that fits on less than one of these pages. Brief ideas that I might come back to later, mine or someone else’s. Mostly someone else’s. Sometimes in my head I think of these as just “quotable” things. It’s new, since the old quotes notebook (see above) was filled, and I’m following a slightly different model here. I also write more than one item per page.

3. Bucket list. Rather than just a list of things I’ll do someday, I use a notebook. I write down one item per page, with the date I added it, and when an item is completed, I write in that date and an explanation how it was completed. This is a wire-bound notebook with a flower theme–they’re on the front, and printed as a pattern on the paper. It’s certainly not my style, it was a gift, but I found a use for it . I like it, though–the paper’s really nice, no show-through at all with my Sharpie pens, but it also doesn’t feel too stiff, like the black journal I just reviewed. I couldn’t find this anywhere online, but I posted a picture taken with my computer’s webcam (I’m currently camera-less). Sorry for the bad picture. Let me know if you know where to find this online! The back says it’s from Havoc Publishing (which I couldn’t find online), copyright 2003. I’ve copied one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes into the front: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

4. Focused journal. This is a 13x21cm Moleskine with squared paper. I guess I need to explain this concept a little, though. It’s a journal, yes, but I think of it more as a paper blog: I write only entries with a topic and a focus. The date and topic are written above the entry. it has to be at least one full page.  I actually keep a list of possible topics on loose paper in the back pocket. Topics include letter writing, blank notebooks, why I love photography, specific events in my life, observations of specific places I’ve been, cultural differences between the two places I live (the US and Germany), etc.

5. Rambling journal. I’m way less concerned with what I put in here; it can be random stream-of-consciousness, and I don’t worry about it. This one isn’t so much keepsake as ranting and self-therapy. This is a bound journal with a picture on it that’s apparently a fifteenth-century piece called ‘Persian Garden.’ It’s lined inside, and published by Galison. I found a couple of listings for it, all listing it as unavailable at this time, as it was published in 2001, but no pictures, so, again, you’ll have to make do with my webcam picture! This, for me, takes the pressure off of journaling to just write significant things–separating the significant from the insignificant.

What about you? How do you use your notebooks?

Pocket Moleskine Review

No blog like this one would be complete without at least a few words on Moleskine notebooks. These are famous, found at the front of every Barnes and Noble store in the USA, heralded as the notebooks used by legends like Picasso and Hemingway. They’re overpriced, but have devoted users, a bit of a cult following, really. They come in different sizes and styles, and I’ve used a few of them personally. Explore the website for everything available, but I can only talk about the pocket-sized plain notebook, large-sized squared notebook, and large-sized, squared cahiers.

First up, the original: the pocket-sized plain notebook. Or perhaps ruled is the original….Anyway, this one’s pretty basic, let’s leave it at that. It’s 9×14 cm,  black oilcloth-over-cardboard cover stamped with a discrete “moleskine” on the back. 192 pages, an elastic band holding it closed, a ribbon bookmark, and a pocket in the back for mementos, I guess. I use mine to collect interesting quotes, for the most part. I write in it with Sharpie pens.

The good: The size is perfectly portable, and I can take it anywhere, ready at a moment’s notice. It has any number of uses, and takes up very little space. The pocket in the back is nice–it feels pretty sturdy, a good place for loose scraps of paper, like ticket stubs or something. I also like the elastic; it’s flat, unobtrusive, and useful. The pages are a nice color and texture, good to write on. It’s also nice that it’s a serious, plain black notebook, and not leather–I don’t buy or use leather. They also lie pretty flat, which is nice for a hardcover notebook.

The bad: You’re out of luck if you like to write on both sides of your paper. My Sharpie pens show completely through to the other side of the page, and even, very occasionally, bleed through to the next page, which is pretty much unacceptable in my opinion. Still, if you only write on one side of the page, it’ll suit you fine most of the time. The binding, and the way it’s put together in general, feels a little cheap, which I wouldn’t mind if these notebooks weren’t so outrageously expensive–$10.95 from the US manufacturer! I don’t get the feeling that these are nicely crafted or durable–they feel like they were made on an assembly line in China. Which, they were, but the price shouldn’t be so handmade-in-Italy, for this quality. The cover is also really rigid–this detracts from portability and functional portability.

The ugly: I absolutely hate the bookmark. In concept, a bookmark is necessary, and I like flat, satin-ribbon type bookmarks. The moleskine’s bookmark feels sort of like a shoelace. I guess it’s functional, but for something so supposedly world-class, it just isn’t what I’d expect. The first and last pages are also completely useless, bound in such a way that they don’t lie flat separate from the endpapers.

The verdict: These notebooks definitely have their flaws. They’re far from perfect, and I don’t really understand their cult status. They’re handy, but shouldn’t be half as expensive as they are, for the quality.