Notebook Addict of the Week: Kevin

This week’s addict is a writer who does much of his work in notebooks. He recently finished a novel consisting of “116,386 words, 472 pages (almost a ream of paper), and numerous books of hand written script.”


“I always write the first draft by hand, I find it more intimate than typing directly onto my laptop, my ideas seem to flow better, besides I love notebooks and pens. I can’t stop myself from going into every stationary shop I see and buying notebooks. The little book on top of the file is crammed with thoughts and ideas, also hand written research notes. Each one of my novels has one of these little books dedicated to it.”

Read more at My novels and other things: Manuscript, research notes and hand written notebooks..

Facsimile of John Wilkes Booth’s Diary

Wow, this is really cool– an amazingly detailed reproduction of the diary of John Wilkes Booth, reproducing all the interior pages, and housed in a painstakingly crafted leather exterior. I love how it’s a wallet and notebook all in one, with lots of handy pockets.


Lots more photos at I have a Booth diary! | BoothieBarn, and more info about the making of the diary here.

Big thanks to former Notebook Addict of the Month Paul for the tip!

Tennyson Note Book Cover From Shire Supply

A nicely understated, rugged-looking notebook cover:


Available in 4 colors, and comes with your choice of either a Moleskine cahier or a Field Notes notebook included. Buy at “The Tennyson” Note Book – From Shire Supply Company / ShireSupply.

Review and Giveaway: Castelli Notebooks

Castelli is an Italian company offering customizable journals, notebooks and diaries. They not only sent me samples, they personalized them with the name of this site! The samples I received are of a variety of sizes and colors and formats, and from the catalogs they also sent, even these are just a fraction of their options.


There’s a large 2014 planner with a removable cover and 2 pen loops, with pens included.


The medium size notebooks show some nice options– I like the dyed edges on the black/orange one, and the red one has a nice leather-textured cover with an interlocking double pen loop that keeps the notebook closed. The black/red notebook has an unusual binding style which makes the spine much more flexible. The slim red pocket size notebook is about the size of a checkbook, and the cover is removable. The pencils Castelli includes with some notebooks are a pleasantly chunky 3-sided design that is comfortable to hold.


My favorite was this little planner in my favorite size, 3.5 x 5.5″.


The week to page format with lined notes pages facing is similar to one of Moleskine’s planners, and I’ve always liked the way it gives you space to log appointments or other daily items while allowing some space for longer notes or journal entries.

Construction is solid, though the back pocket is all paper with no fabric reinforcement. One standout feature is the extensive info at the front of the planner. In addition to the typical yearly planner pages, conversion charts and international dialing codes, you get some extra fun stuff like a wine vintage chart and common phrases from Latin.


There is also a whole signature of unlined notes pages at the back, and a few alphabetized pages for addresses and phone numbers. Unfortunately, the paper in this planner is pretty thin. It is smooth and feels great to write on, but bleed-through and show-through were worse than average. (I did not test all the paper in the other notebooks, but a couple of them seemed to have a somewhat heavier paper in a bright white.)



Now for your opportunity to win your own Notebook Stories notebook from Castelli!

I’ll randomly select 5 winners from entries received in these ways:

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

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday June 20, 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.
UPDATED 6/17 with the correct web addresses for Castelli UK, not Castelli North America. All entries will still be honored.

Sketchbook Video by Ezequiel Canovas

I love videos showing drawing in process– you only get about 25 seconds of that at the beginning of this one, but the rest is a flip-through of the amazing results!

Via The Presurfer: Sketchbook

Wreck This Journal Everywhere

A new 4×6″ version of the popular Wreck This Journal book. I like the idea of having it in a more pocketable size!

Wreck This Journal Everywhere

Notebook Addict of the Week: Jesse Jarnow

This week’s addict is right in line with the rest of this week’s theme. He has quite a collection of those old reddish-brown notebooks and is desperate to find more! He mentions them being made by Oxford, which must be the brand they ended up with in more recent years after Boorum & Pease was merged into Oxford/ Esselte. The stock number seems to have stayed consistent, though.


a plea for oxford memo book 6096 1/2 | Jesse Jarnow

“Some people swear by Moleskine notebooks. Me, I’m all about the 6 1/8″ x 3 3/4″ 72-page Oxford Memo Book, stock number 6096 1/2. They look old school, age well after months in my back pocket, and never fall apart.

Unfortunately, the dude at the stationary store told me that they are being discontinued in that size. I, for one, am having a cow.”


I know we all sympathize!

Read more at a plea for oxford memo book 6096 1/2 | Jesse Jarnow.

Another Retro Style from Boorum & Pease

Here’s another simple notebook style from Boorum and Pease, and this one still seems to be available, at least in this size and format: Boorum & Pease Handy Size 7 x 4 3/8 Inch 96-Page Bound Memo Book with Stiff Tan Cover (6559)

Below is from a post by Andy at Woodclinched (a blog about wooden pencils) looking at his father-in-law’s old notebooks:

“My father-in-law built a boat. We all thought it was an improvised affair; with PVC pipes lashed to two-by-fours and duct tape. But he’s apparently been planning it for quite a while. In fact, he has a whole notebook where he planned it out and documented his project…”

Read more at Boorum & Pease | Woodclinched. Andy’s father-in-law also had a nice engineer’s field book by a company I’d never heard of, Keuffel and Esser. Andy also provides a link to this history of the Boorum and Pease company.

Boorum & Pease/Esselte Black Notebooks

Here’s another old-time favorite of mine:


These are pocket sized notebooks made by Boorum & Pease and Esselte in the 1980s, with lined pages and a textured black hard cover. I look at these now and see them as a sort of proto-Moleskine. I was always looking for a nice “little black book,” in a pocket size, with an unadorned cover. For a while in the late 1980s, these were it for me. I just adored them. I still think their size and thickness is very appealing, though I hate all that huge cover overhang, and nowadays I never use lined notebooks since there are more options with plain and squared pages. (If these had been available with squared pages, I would have died and gone to heaven back then.)

It’s interesting that some were made with squared corners, and some round. Quality control was a bit of an issue– you can see that there’s a huge gap in the spine of one of the notebooks– it came that way when new, it’s not just that the pages are coming loose. Some of the paper in these is getting rather brown with age– not acid-free, I’m guessing!

Shown below with a pocket Moleskine and my other ’80s Boorum & Pease notebooks for size comparison:

I haven’t seen these black notebooks in stores in quite a long time, but I’m happy to report that they are still available online! Right here in the Notebook Stories Store: Pocket Size Bound Memo Book, Ruled, 3-1/4 X 5-1/4, White, 72 Sheets

Boorum and Pease Brown Taped-Spine Notebook

A reader recently wrote to me with the following question:

“I have been looking for a particular kind of notebook for quite some time. I see them more in movies than anything, and examples include JFK and the most recent Captain America movie (see pic below). It’s very similar to the one you have posted for Samuel Beckett. It’s got a brown card stock soft cover, ruled pages, and I believe stapled or stitched binding with a darker color tape (?) placed along the bound edge for reinforcement. They look like the sort of thing that would only cost a dollar or two. I’ve looked everywhere and cannot find them. Do you happen to know where I might find such a thing?”
matthew question

I get so many questions about notebooks where I am completely stumped, but this time, I had some answers! I had a few of these notebooks in my own collection:


I bought these in the 1980s, in various stationery/office supply stores. Mine were made by Boorum & Pease, stock # 6086 1/2. Other brands may also have been available back in the day, perhaps in other parts of the country– Boorum and Pease was a NY/NJ-based company for many years, so these may have been more common in the Northeast. It’s rather quaint to think of regional stationery brands in today’s globalized world, isn’t it! But at least in the area where I grew up, these notebooks used to be pretty common and inexpensive. I loved the look of the reddish-brown cover with the black tape on the spine. The square corners could get beat up, but other than that, they were really handy little notebooks, and it’s a shame they seem to have gone out of fashion.

In searching for a contemporary version online, these were the closest things I could find: Oxford Side Opening 48 SHT Memo Book 5″ x 3″ – # 6080 1/2 and Roaring Springs Sewn Memo Book Item # 76096. There are similar ones on Amazon under the brand names Wilson & Jones and Adams Manufacturing. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t the same pocket sized version as mine– I mainly found listings for larger sizes. I’ve collected all the ones I could find on Amazon (plus some other fun stuff) in the Notebook Stories store under “Retro Style Notebooks.” If anyone else can suggest places to buy these notebooks today, please let us know in the comments!




Blog Widget by LinkWithin