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.
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.
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!