Review: Dream Atlas

Recording one’s dreams is a common use for a journal. It’s easy to just take any blank page and write down a dream you’ve remembered. But the Dream Atlas is a specialized journal that has been created for people who really want to delve deeply into their dreaming. The creators are aiming to help people remember their dreams better, take advantage of insights from dreams, and even control lucid dreams.

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The Dream Atlas, which I received as a free sample, comes from the makers of DreamLeaf herbal supplement pills that claim to change your sleep cycle to enhance your dreaming. I can’t vouch for any of that, but the Dream Atlas should work whether you are taking pills to dream or just doing it the old-fashioned way!


The Dream Atlas notebook is at first glance quite similar to the larger size Moleskine. 5.5 x 8.5″, hardcover, with a ribbon marker and elastic closure. There is no back pocket, but you do get a pen loop. The actual feel of the cover reminds me of the Pen & Ink journals– the black cover material has a somewhat softer texture and slightly rounded spine. The whole notebook is less stiff than a Moleskine– you can bend it slightly, though it is not as flexible as a softcover. The front cover has an embossed Dream Atlas logo, and a smaller embossed logo and brand name appear in the  usual spot on the lower back cover.

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The distinguishing characteristics of this notebook are less in the outer form than in the inner content. At the beginning there are a few pages with advice on how to improve your dreaming and how to have lucid dreams.

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Then the body of the journal contains page spreads for recording each dream, with a section for describing what happened in the dream, recording symbols and their meanings, drawing an image from the dream, and making notes about your interpretation of the dream’s meaning.There’s also a checkbox for recording whether the dream was a lucid one, and each spread has a quote about sleeping or dreams, from authors such as James Baldwin, Erich Fromm, Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin, and many others.

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At the end of the notebook are a few pages for recapping common dream themes and signs and other notes.

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I didn’t do a full range of pen tests in this notebook, but I did happen to have a very appropriate dream to record in my sample notebook! I used a Uniball Signo RT 0.38 pen, and found the paper to be pleasantly smooth, with an average amount of show-through.

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I often jot down notes about dreams in my regular notebooks, so I found it quite fun to record this dream in more detail, and be prompted to look into its meanings. If you are really committed to recording your dreams, the prompts in this journal should be quite helpful, and it would make a great gift for any dreamer. You can buy the Dream Atlas on Amazon, or at the DreamLeaf website.

Christine Lagarde’s Notebook

Christine Lagarde is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, which makes her one of the most powerful women in the world of finance and politics. I was happy to see the photo below– looks she uses a pocket notebook to help keep track of things!

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Looks like a softcover Moleskine, probably…

Source: How IMF head Christine Lagarde convinces powerful men to make gender equality a priority – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW

Notebook Addict of the Week: Dan

This week’s addict has a You Tube Channel called A Sort of Interesting Life, where he posts a lot of videos about living on a narrowboat, for the most part, but he’s also quite interested in pens and notebooks. Take a look at his collection:

I think he also has the same ancient teddy bear as I have! Glad to see he has his priorities straight for what to keep with him in what must be tight living quarters on his narrowboat!

10 Notebooks to Celebrate National Stationery Week

National Stationery Week is 25 April – 1 May 2016 in the UK, and the Independent features 10 top notebook picks to celebrate. My two favorites below!

Atlas & I Personalised Map Leather Journal:From £38, Not On The High Street

“Simply provide a postcode and place name which means something to you, and Atlas & I will use an antique map of the location to cover the notebook.”  Buy now

Nuuna London Illustration Notebook: £25, Amara

“These German-made notebooks are some of the most striking we’ve seen. The most recent collection features bold graphic prints and playful slogans, as well as this intricate cityscape illustration…. ” Buy now


Source: 10 best notebooks | Arts & Books | Extras | The Independent

Limited Edition Luxury Notebooks by Inhedited

If you are looking to upgrade your notebook collection with something really high end, here’s something to check out:

“The Inhedited collection brings to the notebook market a limited selection of books claiming to be more than just that. Described as ‘a collectible object, a piece of craftsmanship, a travel and daily companion’, the new notebooks have been designed to respond to all of the user’s personal writing and travel needs….

A unique selling point with the collection is its guarantee that no two notebooks are the same. This certitude can be made due to a high-standard crafting process in which the notebook’s leathers were individually selected and the marbled papers specially hand-painted.”

The leather and marbled paper and gilt edges do look rather luscious. These are limited editions of only 260 notebooks in each style. The prices start at a jaw-dropping £258! Makes DesignY seem like a bargain!

Read more at : Inhedited’s hi-lux limited edition notebooks | Wallpaper* Magazine

Moleskine Monday: Smart Writing Set

Moleskine just introduced another digital/analog combo: the Smart Writing Set. For $199, you get a special “Paper Tablet,” a “Pen+,” and a companion app. When you write in the tablet with the special pen, your notes and drawings are immediately digitized into the app.

The thing that has me scratching my head is the way they designed the Paper Tablet:

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“The Paper Tablet feels like a notebook but is purposely designed with extended rounded edges to look like a tablet.” Huh? In my opinion, it looks completely ridiculous to have those rounded page edges bulging out on the open sides of the cover. There is just no good reason to make it that way, for design or for function.

The concept is similar to Livescribe– I haven’t used Livescribe, or the Evernote Moleskines, so I don’t have much to say about the practical uses of these digital tools, but I’d love to hear from others who have tried them! What do you think of this new product?

Notebook Addict of the Week: Tim

This week’s addict is another stationery blogger from Germany. Tim emailed me these photos and some thoughts about his notebook collection:




“Since I was a great fan of notebooks and the series “Notebook Addict of the Week” for a long time, I want to give you a glimpse of my notebook collection and show you how I use them. I prefer to write with all imaginable varieties of ultrafine fountain pens or very fine gelpens. Japanese notebooks are therefore the best for me. I like Apica, Midori, Leuchtturm or selfmade notebooks. My notes include everyday impressions, ideas, appointments, lists, collections and I often write concepts for work. I always have multiple notebooks with me wherever I go. Perhaps it sounds a little strange, but I rarely read old notes. My usage is more present and helps to sort my thoughts.

The journals on the pictures include the year 2015 – but not all of them are completed.

A few sentences about myself: I am 36 years old, living and working in Berlin (Germany). In my spare time I take care of two cats who live with me and write a blog about stationery and analog life: (German).”

Many thanks to Tim for sharing his addiction, and I hope to see more on his blog!

Writers’ Notebooks

I love these photos, from a blog post by Jackie Morris where she’s collected a wide variety of images of writers’ notebooks:
David Almond‘s notebook for Counting Stars:

Robert MacFarlane’s notebooks:

See lots more at Writer’s notebooks in pictures.

Landscape Art in Notebooks

I love the art and the art supplies on display at the blog of Nathan Fowkes:

See more at Land Sketch. He offers online classes too!

Review and Giveaway: Archer Planner

Here’s a new entry in the growing market for highly formatted planners. The Archer Planner from The Active System Co. comes in a 3-pack of stapled booklets. The 3 notebooks are differentiated by the colored block that wraps around the spine, in red, yellow or green, but they are otherwise identical.

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Each notebook is designed to be used as a planner for a single month.  The outside of each notebook has space at the top where you can date and number it. The inside front cover has space for a sort of index of project codes or abbreviations and quick reference notes. Then you get a 2-page month-to-view spread where you can lay out events or deadlines for the month ahead. Then you have a few monthly log pages that have space for notes or sketches, as well as lists for things like “cities,” “restaurants,” “books,” “sports/games,” “people met.”

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Then the main body of the notebook has 2-page spreads, each for one day, subdivided into spaces for tracking all sorts of things. You have slots for appointments– these are numbered rather than broken up by specific hours, which will work well for people who don’t keep 9-5 hours. Some of the suggested items for logging are rather amusing, like “hair” in a section with circles to tick to rate each item from worst to best. There’s also a box for “vices,” to force you to track your consumption of cigarettes or alcohol or worse! Other items are more typical– expenses, meals, weather, action items.

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At the end of the book are a couple of blank pages for notes, and a page where you can recap the past month with some prompts.

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The design of the notebook is really nice– very clean and straightforward. It seems uncluttered despite having a lot of items on each page. The 6×9″ size is lightweight and portable while being large enough to lay out on a desk and fill with lots of daily items.

The paper used inside is a bright cool white. It feels great to write on with fine point gel ink pens– but these and pencils may be the only pens you’d want to use– I found that many of my other pens bled through. Even my pH test pen bled through, which I don’t recall seeing on any other notebook! But other than that, showthrough was average with the pens that didn’t bleed.

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This system will undoubtedly work well for some people but not others. I like the idea of being prompted to log certain things, but for my personal needs, the formatting would be overkill. The advantage of a totally blank page is that each person can use as much space as they need for the things that matter to them– once you’ve got lots of boxes to fill, the ones that are irrelevant to you will just be wasted space. But if you really want to log your life in great detail, there’s not much that this notebook leaves out!

My only other complaint was the number of page spreads. There are 20 2-page daily planning spreads per notebook. The makers say that is enough for a month’s worth of working days, but what about weekends? If you are committed to tracking your hair and meals and exercise, etc, why would you only want to do that on weekdays? And a 31 day month would have more than 20 weekdays. And if you are going to use a monthly planner booklet, it’s probably easier to have one notebook per calendar month rather than having to start a new one a few days before the end of the month because you ran out of pages.

I couldn’t help comparing this to the Moleskine Color a Month Planner that I reviewed several years ago. Monthly planners are nice when you don’t want to carry around the bulk of a whole year’s worth of daily pages, but they work better as log books rather than forward-looking planners where you’ll have to copy a lot of stuff forward into the next month’s booklet. The Archer notebooks will probably work better for backwards-looking logging unless your career and life are more ruled by short-term planning than longer-term scheduling and appointments. Given that they have included a feedback page at the back of each booklet, I hope the makers (who sent me these free samples to review) are considering improvements and updates that might address some of these concerns.

You can buy the Archer planner 3-packs at Amazon. And if you want to try one out, you can also enter my giveaway! Two lucky winners will be randomly selected and each will receive one Archer notebook. Enter in any or all of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Archer Planner @theactivesystem @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @theactivesystem

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Active System page and post something containing the words “Archer Planner” on the Notebook Stories page.

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

The deadline for entry is Friday April 15 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.


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