A reader named Marjorie wrote to ask how my notebook collection started. It’s hard for me to remember exactly, because I’ve loved notebooks since before I can even remember!
My parents have said that when I was about 3, I was already folding pieces of paper in to little booklets to scribble on. A few years later, I was given one of those free calendar booklets that Hallmark stores or drugstores used to sometimes give away. I remember having a few of these– with at least one of them, I cut it down from a squarish shape into a more pleasing rectangle, so that would have been my first attempt at notebook alteration. These earliest notebooks I’ve just described are almost the only ones I don’t still have today.
By the time I was about 8, I started sometimes using my 25 cents a week allowance to buy a 3 x5″ spiral notebook. I think one of the first ones was the green memo book you can see in the center of the top row of notebooks in the header photo of this blog. My obsession with these caught the eye of my aunt, who started giving me the diaries she got for free each year as a member of the Harvard Coop– you can see 4 of them at top left in the header, but I have even more than that. These were the first notebooks I truly adored and I carried one with me everywhere. When it was obvious how much I loved the first one, my aunt dug around in her drawers to find older ones she’d never used and gave me those too. The way the notebooks were made changed slightly over the years, and I remember comparing them closely– whether the plastic cover was glued onto the pages, or whether they slid into a detachable cover, whether the texture of the cover was smooth or leather-like, etc. After those notebooks, I still bought lots of spiral notebooks and other styles, but I think they instilled a long-lasting affection for the “little black book” form that was later reawakened by Moleskines and other similar notebooks.
I never got rid of any of my early notebooks– I just started stashing them in my desk or in shoeboxes and the collection kept growing. Many were stored at my parents’ house when I left for college, and many more continued to accumulate. In 7th grade, I had a notebook I really liked that was lost or stolen, and I’ve never forgotten it, because I don’t think I’ve ever lost another one, and because I was never able to find a replacement just like it. So the collection I have now is truly a lifetime of notebooks.
How about you, readers? Tell us how your collection started!