Notebooks, notebooks, everywhere!

I used to write quite a lot of posts about paper. Recently I’ve been all about the pens. Time to redress the balance. Let me give you a tour of the many different notebooks that have been across my desk recently. And boy, I’ve had a lot of paper.


But before that, let me cut to the chase:

If you want a recommendation for a great fountain pen friendly notebook for work, go buy a GLP Author from Amazon. You get Tomoe paper, a bookmark, rounded corners, durable covers, the works. £20 well spent. I’ve used up three of them in recent times, and they’re fantastic.

Work notebooks

I’ve filled 23 A5-ish notebooks in the past two years.

GLP Author: as I said, I’ve filled three. No complaints whatsoever.


LIFE: I filled a Pistachio exercise book with fetching grass-green grids on ivory paper, and a NOBLE NOTE 200-page ruled, with cream paper. Something didn’t gel with me — the paper was just that bit too smooth, too waxy, and it felt like my nibs were on the verge of misbehaving.

Graphilo: I used up three A5 exercise books, all with ivory paper, one lined, two with TINY grids. (One I used as a personal book/portable diary, the others for work). The paper has more tooth than Tomoe, and a LOT more tooth than LIFE. Good shading, good sheen, no feathering, no bleed, less showthrough than Tomoe, OK dry times. Very good paper, but expensive.


MD paper: I gave up halfway through an A5 exercise book of this stuff. I hate the paper. My broad and italic nibs just skate off without leaving any ink behind, and it makes an awful noise. Yuck.


Stalogy: I filled a B5 exercise book, lined in white. The paper feels very smooth. It has the tiniest amount of feathering, and actually a tiniest amount of bleed with wide, wet nibs. But it feels great under the nib, and it’s more reasonably priced, too.


SakaeTP Tomoe River: My current work notebook is a brute of a Tomoe notebook from SakaeTP, which I bought in Tokyo. It has immensely thick textured covers, opens totally flat, and has 368 dot-grid pages in a notebook 13mm thick at the spine. It’s great.

Off-Lines: Here’s the real foundation of my daily habit. Every day I fill in an Off-Lines A7 sheet as my to-do list, tucked inside the current page of my notebook. I write meetings at the top, and prioritise tasks below, ticking off as I complete them. At the end of the day I look at my calendar for tomorrow, write out a new sheet, and move over any tasks that I still want to complete the next day. Old sheets go in a stack. I couldn’t live without this system.


Personal notebooks

I keep a few notebooks on the go for various purposes.

GLP Author: pen meets. I keep an Author specifically for a scratchpad when I’m at pen meets — trying out pens and inks. It’ll last me ages at this rate.

Tomoe River pocket notebook: I’ve always got one of these on the go, kept in my Nock Sinclair as my home for to-do lists and quick thoughts. In a pinch I use it as a diary, too.


A5 exercise book: portable diary. I’ve started to take a Tomoe A5 exercise book with me on trips for personal thoughts and to serve as a diary. They’re smaller than my home diary, and because they’ve got fewer pages, I’m less worried about losing or damaging them. Right now I’m using one from Birmingham Pens.


Stalogy 365: main diary. I stopped using a Hobonichi Cousin A5 this year for my diary, when I realised I was only using it for the paper quality, not for any of the planner features. The Stalogy gives me a page-a-day feel and the same construction, but none of the extras, so it’s a lot slimmer.


Hobonichi 5-year diary. I’m about six months behind on filling this in. I have periodic bursts, but failed to make it a habit yet. I still love the concept of being able to look back on what happened this day over the past five years.


Taroko Designs: commonplace book. I’ve had a big fat cream-paper Taroko Tomoe River A5 notebook in a tweed case as my general “at home” writing book for ages now. I use it for writing through big decisions or events, as well as for blog drafts and other extended writing sessions. I’m not quite halfway through yet.


So to recap:

  • Anything with Tomoe is great.
  • Stalogy and Graphilo will serve in a pinch.
  • Exercise books are definitely more portable than fatter notebooks.
  • B5 is a great compromise between A5 and A4 if you need more room on a page.
  • Avoid Life and MD paper, especially if you like to write with broader nibs.

Thanks for sticking with me!

8 thoughts on “Notebooks, notebooks, everywhere!

  1. The GLP ones are very good, alright. I have had occasional problems with the ribbon unravelling and the elastic coming unstuck, but those are minor irritations

    Completely agree with you on B5 – the Mnemosyne ring bound ones are a firm favourite for me.

    Finally a shout-out to Fabriano who actually make decent fountain-pen friendly notebooks from recycled paper (their Ecoqua series, which you can get from Cult Pens). Pleasantly toothy, too, if you like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “If you want a recommendation for a great fountain pen friendly notebook for work, go buy a GLP Author from Amazon. You get Tomoe paper, a bookmark, rounded corners, durable covers, the works. £20 well spent. “

    I’m with you there. I bought one of these when my last Leuchtturm 1917 A5 notebook I use for work ran out. Love the size and soft cover (though had to add a Leuchtturm pen loop to fix my pen to).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Notebooks notebooks everywhere, nor any drop of ink”. No, that doesn’t apply in your case. Thanks for the great round up. The Tomoe River books on Amazon sound good. I am using Leuchtturm A5 journals, which have spoiled me from using anything inferior.


  4. This is great, a really useful reference. It makes me realise I really haven’t ventured far when a lot of what you discuss here is completely new to me. I’ll have to give Tomoe another go though, I was nonplussed when I used it initially, so much smoother and longer drying than my daily staple of Oxford Optik, I struggled with the show-through too.

    A pleasing recent discovery for me was Collins Legacy notebooks, they can be very good value. Maybe more appealing if you like a bit of texture/ tooth which I certainly do.


  5. This is a very interesting array of notebooks and journals, especially because half of them are unfamiliar to me or I’ve just heard of them in passing. Tomoe River paper, sure; but the binding companies, no. I have a Midori MD lined up to continue my journal next week when I finish the Webbie I am using now, so I hope my experience is better than yours. I use finer nibs, so maybe that will help.
    BTW, adorable pics of daddy and the puppy in your Off-Lines stack.

    Liked by 1 person

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