Notebook Addict of the Week: Pepperguy

This week’s addict was spotted on the F***Yeah Notebooks and Journals Tumblr page, a good source for notebook eye candy! Pepperguy says “I have a bit of an addiction.” I’d love to see more beyond this tantalizing glimpse of Moleskines and Field Notes!


See more at I have a bit of a notebook addiction. #moleskine….

Notebooks from Paris and Amsterdam

Here’s the stash of notebooks I brought back from my Amsterdam/Paris trip. First, two little notebooks from a local newsstand/bookstore near where I was staying. They had a nice selection of school supplies, and other notebook brands such as Moleskine, but these two were inexpensive and not like others I’d seen elsewhere. The blue one is a basic wire-o memo book, with a textured cardstock cover. The black and red one, only about 2 1/2 x 4″, reminded me of the notebooks that used to be common in Chinatown shops, but it doesn’t say where it was made, and the label mentions a German company.

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At P. K. Akkerman in Amsterdam, there was another wide selection of notebooks, but I just bought this chunky little Bindewerk notebook, which has a layer of actual wood veneer on the front and back cover. It’s cute, thought I think the notches running through the top and bottom of each page might get on my nerves. At 14.50, this was pretty pricey, but I didn’t think I could find these in New York. Of course about 2 months after my trip, I did stumble across a store selling these (Goods for the Study).

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This small notebook doubles as an art book: blank pages are interspersed with full color paintings by the artist Marlene Dumas, whose retrospective was on exhibit at the Stedelijk museum.

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In Paris, I was very excited to find these Clairefontaine notebooks at Marie Tournelle. In the US, you can easily find their notebooks with covers like these, but they are usually in larger sizes, and they never have graph paper! These are the exact Clairefontaine notebook I had always wished I could buy. I’ve always loved Clairefontaine paper, and never understood why it’s so hard to get it in the squared style. Some of their larger plaid covered notebooks have squared pages, but pocket notebooks with the cloth spine never do. But it’s nice to know that they are available in Europe! I was surprised, though, to notice that these notebooks are now perfect-bound. The pages are just glued into the spine, rather than in sewn signatures, which is how these used to be made. I’m not sure when this changed. But the notebooks still open nice and flat. I’ve lost the receipt, but I think these were only about 3 or 4.

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This notebook caught my eye in the gift shop at the Centre Pompidou– it’s a small lined booklet inside a cloth cover. Various patterns and colors were available for the covers– I thought the pale green with red stitching looked great. The proceeds from these benefit Memisa, a healthcare organization. It was 9.90.

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And finally, this black Moleskine-ish notebook is from the Paris store Merci, and carries their brand on the back. It’s a soft/hardcover hybrid, as the covers aren’t wrapped like most hardcover notebooks, but they are thick and quite stiff. I love the dyed edges, and it’s nice that the pen loop folds down and tucks in if you’re not using it. I don’t plan on using it at all, but I’d be worried I’d lose my pen or pencil if I did, as it’s rather loose. This notebook was 9.90.

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Globalization may mean that shopping is more and more generic and it’s harder to find unique things when you travel, but I was happy to find a few new and different notebooks on my trip. I’m always looking for more suggestions for international stationery stores!

Artists’ Diaries at the Smithsonian

I was in Washington DC over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and thanks to a tip from a reader, I went to one of the Smithsonian museums to see a cool little exhibit on artists’ diaries: A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art. It’s not a huge exhibition, and the lighting and glass cases can make it difficult to actually read the diaries they have on display, but it’s well worth seeing nonetheless. Here’s some photos I snapped:

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There was another fascinating exhibition right next door on the artist James Castle. He was a self-taught artist who used whatever scraps of paper he had around the house to draw on. These two works kind of fit the notebook theme!

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The diaries exhibit will be on display until Feb. 28, 2015 in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at 8th and F Streets, NW– it’s in the same building as the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Open daily 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Life Renover Notebook Giveaway

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Life notebooks always catch my eye in stores. The covers look so elegant in a modern yet retro way. And the paper always feels so smooth and silky. This one above was a freebie from the generous folks at Notebook Maniac, who sell a variety of notebook brands, many from Japan, including Life, Midori, Tsubame, Maruman and more. I also reviewed Nuuna notebooks from Notebook Maniac in this post.
In the spirit of paying it forward, I’ll pass this notebook along to a winner randomly selected from comments on this post. Make sure to fill out the email address field when you leave your comment– it won’t be shared or used for any purpose other than contacting you if you’re the winner. Deadline to enter is Friday Dec. 19 at 11:59 EST.

Here’s to Life!

Peg & Awl Journals

Nice looking but expensive journals made with reclaimed leather and fabric:

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See more at Peg & Awl.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Krystina

This week’s addict was brought to my attention via an email from a reader named Reema. Krystina wrote about her life-long habit of journaling at her website, Baraka Birth.

“I’ve been keeping a journal since 1991, when at age nine I was a gap-toothed kid tearing up the playground in New Delhi, India. That first book, a black plastic bound lockable book (the key long since lost, the lockable bit cut off), took me all the way through 8th grade. It chronicled not only those years as a little kid (“Dear Diary, Today we got a puppy!”) but also my first period, my first love, my first experiences of isolation and loneliness in middle school, the dreams I had of boys and movie stars whom I’d rank with drawings of hearts and lips….”

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Read more, and see more photos, at My Life in Journals.

Midori Spiral Ring Notebooks

Midori’s Traveler’s Notebooks are so widely popular, they seem to be almost the only Midori products you ever hear about. But they also make this lovely line of spiral notebooks named after animals (and an insect). From the descriptions at the Miscellaneous online store:

Midori Spiral Ring Notebook is a series of notebooks with a beautiful kraft paper cover with the spiral “woven” into the kraft paper cover, available in five types: Camel, Polar Bear, Kangaroo, Bee and Elephant

The Elephant edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 20 thick grey carton sheets. Beautiful for scrapbooking your last trip, or just to write something down.

The Bee edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 12 kraft envelopes with window. Just as a bee collects nectar from flowers before they store it in their hive, you can now store all small items of rememberance in these envelopes.

The Kangaroo edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 32 sheets with “pouches”. These pockets will provide you with lots of room for “fast administration”; store your receipts month-by-month, the business cards of your favorites spots you collected during your last trip by city and/or neighborhood or simply just store small desktop items like paperclips/stamps/bands and other paraphernalia.

The Camel edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 80 kraft paper sheets. Beautiful for scrapbooking your last trip, or just to write something down.

The Polar Bear edition has 100 snowwhite sheets. White, crisp and fresh pages at your disposal to pen down your Nobel prize-winning thoughts, to do lists, or just some doodle drawing whilst chatting on VOIP.

Each design is available in these sizes:

A5 Spiral Ring Notebook measures 218 x 130mm
A6 Spiral Ring Notebook measures 154 x   95mm
B6 Spiral Ring Notebook measures 130 x 193mm
B7 Spiral Ring Notebook measures   90 x 130mm

You can buy some of the designs/sizes at Amazon.

Papercup Design Journals

I jotted this brand down after seeing one of their products somewhere– I don’t remember where or when, or what I saw, but their website offers some lovely letterpress journals in various designs:

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See more at Papercup Design.

Review and Giveaway: Penroll

I tend not to review very many notebook-related accessories on this site. There are various pen-holders and notebook covers on the market but I am not usually interested in them, as I like to keep my notebooks pretty simple and unencumbered. But when I first spotted the Penroll, I was immediately attracted to it and contacted the maker for a sample. What made this item change my mind about accessorizing a notebook? Let’s take a look.


The Penroll is part notebook cover, but mainly a holder for pens, pencils or brushes, and an eraser. It is made of sturdy stitched canvas, with small metal clips at the sides that clasp onto your notebook. The design is very simple and un-fussy, with just a subtle tag with the Penroll name on it, and it doesn’t interfere with or damage the notebook– you can still use the elastic closure and back pocket.


The Penroll is made in sizes to fit typical Moleskine formats– small and large, and the large even comes in a landscape format too. Because the portrait format Penrolls don’t cover the full height of the notebook, they’ll also adapt to the slightly taller Leuchtturm, or any other brand with a similar width and thickness. The colors and texture of the canvas also look nice with HandBook Artist Journals, though their slightly thicker size makes for a snugger fit.


The Penroll adds significant bulk to your notebook, especially when it’s full of pens, but I actually like the thick and chunky feel of the whole bundle. That said, for me, this won’t be a cover that I’ll keep on a notebook I’m carrying in my bag 100% of the time. I see it more as a ready-to-go art kit that you can keep stocked with a few favorite pens and brushes, and then snap onto your sketchbook when you’re heading out for a drawing session. I think the Penroll really shines as an urban sketching tool– you can hold your notebook and spare drawing instruments in one hand, so you can easily switch between pens without having to rummage in a separate pen case. It won’t prevent your notebook from opening flat while held in your hand, though it might be a little awkward if you’re setting it on a flat surface.

This red one is a keeper for me– I know it will come in handy for sketching on some of my travels. The Penroll is definitely worth checking out if like to keep a variety of pens with your notebook, and makes a great gift for anyone who likes sketching out in the field, urban or otherwise. You can buy Penroll at their online store here as well as at a few retailers in Europe.

I will be giving away the large landscape Penroll in black and the large portrait Penroll in blue. I’ll randomly select the two winners from entries received in any of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Penroll” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page  and post something containing the words “Penroll” on the Notebook Stories wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Penroll” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday December 12, 2014 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Moleskine Monday: Emily Weiss

Emily Weiss, the founder of the beauty website Into the Gloss, counts Moleskines among her favorite things:

“My most treasured possessions are my Moleskine notebooks, which I have gravitated away from using at the moment. But when I founded Into the Gloss in 2010, I used them all the time to sketch the site’s layouts and sections. I love having those memories in these books.”


Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss on Her Cultural Touchstones

Read more at Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss on Her Cultural Touchstones.

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