Review: Leonardo Pocket Journal

I usually find the stationery chain Papyrus to be pretty slim pickings as far as notebooks are concerned, but one day I happened to spot this little gem sitting all alone on a bottom shelf: the Leonardo Pocket Journal.
It’s kind of funny that it has a musical theme– I mean, why didn’t they call it the Wolfgang Journal, or the Ludwig Journal?  Actually, there is a pretty good reason: the Italian company that makes it is called Leonardo Communication. But you’d think they might just put a DaVinci drawing on the cover instead of musical notes…

The packaging is more or less what we’ve come to expect: a paper band with the branding wraps around the notebook. Below is what it looks like without the band– I think they could have laid out the cover slightly better, perhaps– that white space running down the left side almost makes it look like it was misaligned and should have been on the spine.


The notebook is most comparable to a softcover Moleskine in size and general characteristics, as the cover is just stiff cardboard  rather than boards wrapped in paper or oilcloth. The outside has a slightly ridgy texture, like some fine writing papers. The inside covers are totally blank, and I was surprised to discover there was no inside pocket, which seems like such a standard feature these days.


The coloring is fun: the elastic band is a sort of speckled blue, and the ribbon marker is bright red. And the inside pages are a recycled paper with a greyish color. The elastic is very tight– any tighter and it might warp the notebook.


My notebook was a bit stiff in how it opened, partly because of an extra blob of glue that held the spine together a bit more at one end. But even without that, this wouldn’t be the most flat-lying or flexible notebook, as you can see below. If you want a notebook you can keep in your back pocket, you’ll prefer the Book Factory notebook or a Moleskine. The Leonardo is much more stiff.


I didn’t have high hopes for the paper in this notebook– when I see that greyish or brownish tone and the word “eco-friendly” I assume the paper will be sort of rough and with the kind of soft surface that makes pens feather and bleed through easily. But although it’s not as smooth to write on as the Moleskine, Markings, Piccadilly, Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks I’ve been writing in recently, it’s not as rough and draggy as I feared it would be. More importantly, this paper is actually one of the better performers I’ve tried in terms of bleed-through.

leonardo pen1leonardo pen2

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this notebook. The look of it is a nice change from basic black, but it’s still understated and not too brightly colored, though of course this is a matter of personal preference. Not having a pocket is a drawback, though.

I’m not sure where these might be sold other than Papyrus– the manufacturer’s website was pretty uninformative. Let me know in the comments if you know of other retailers who sell these.

Price: $8.95 plus tax

Made in Italy by Leonardo Communication

Piccadilly Stockpile?

I am really liking the small squared Piccadilly I’ve switched to as my current daily notebook.
piccadilly squared1
The quality is much improved from the first Piccadilly notebooks I bought— the elastic is tight, the back pocket works, and everything just seems solid. I like the paper, which is nice and smooth and seems to resist more bleed-through than others. It opens nice and flat. And the thickness and square spine are very appealing. And it only cost me $3.99 at Borders! $3.99!!!

When I bought this notebook, I almost grabbed two more, but I held off, thinking that A) I hadn’t used it yet and might not like it, and B) I had about a dozen other notebooks ready for future use, including 4 squared Moleskines that I managed to snag for about 50 cents each, and C) who knows what other exciting new notebooks the future holds? The minute I stock up on one thing, I might fall in love with something else!

I can be fickle with notebooks– though I generally know what I like, some notebooks’ charm can fade a bit after a short period of use. I loved my Markings notebook when I first started it, but then the back cover started tearing (below is how it ended up, way too soon after I started using it), and I never felt like the semi-leather cover broke in the way I wanted it to. I might have bought 5 of those based on first impressions, but now I’m glad I didn’t.
markings spine split1
I will be buying a few more Piccadillies soon– if Borders has them, that is. I think they buy large lots of them periodically rather than re-ordering in small batches, so the stock levels seem like they can be unreliable. And Borders as a company is reputed to be a little shaky, so what if they stop carrying them or their stores close? I could order directly from Piccadilly but that gets a bit more expensive. And if they lose Borders as a major customer, will they still produce these notebooks? There is always that paranoia that the perfect notebook will cease to exist, a fear that Moleskine has exploited nicely with the story of Bruce Chatwin’s Paris stationer ceasing to carry the type of notebook Moleskine later resurrected under their own brand.

How about you? Do you buy multiple notebooks when you find a type you like? Does it make you nervous not to have a few spares ready to be written in? How many unused notebooks do you have stockpiled?

iPhone x Notebook = Notepod

Cute! A notepad that looks like an iPhone!

You can order them from the Australian website– US$17.95 for a set of 3, with standard shipping to anywhere in the world included.
Notepod: The sketchbook for your app ideas.

Moleskine Monday: Make a Hipster PDA With a Moleskine Planner

Check out this tutorial on how to make a sort of Hipster PDA out of a Moleskine. I’m not sure how I’d like having those rings interfering with the front cover lying flat, but I like the way this adds a removable/ refillable element to the Moleskine, and the ability to flip it to the outside for quick jotting or reference is really nice.

moleskine hipster pdamoleskine hipster pda 3moleskine hipster pda 2

Moleskine pocket diary Hipster PDA.

Lifehacker’s Favorite Notebooks

Among their other favorite workspace tools, these are the top picks for note-taking:

Paper and Note-Taking Tools
Despite our zest for technology, pen and paper is still Lifehacker readers’ favorite note-taking tool. Let’s take those notes in style.

Moleskine Notebooks: We take our note-taking very seriously around these parts, so it’s no surprise that we’re fans of the high quality Moleskine line of notebooks. They come in all shapes and sizes, they’ve got thick, durable binding, and they just feel good in your hand.

Field Notes: Like to do a lot of back-pocket note-taking? The pocket-sized Field Notes memo books are just the right size for the job, are flexible but durable enough to survive your pocket, and come in graphed, ruled, plain, and mixed flavors. (Original post)

Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper #3 Coming Soon!

The third edition of the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper will be here before you know it, this time hosted by Office Supply Geek on Tuesday October 6th. Submissions are due by 5pm EST on Sunday October 4th.

The Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is a traveling monthly collection of the best blog posts about notebooks, pens, pencils, paper products and anything else deemed relevant by the editors. More information about the carnival here and here. If you’re unfamiliar with blog carnivals, they’re a great way to build community and awareness among blogs that share similar subject matter. Bloggers and hosts can get more exposure for their posts, and readers enjoy an edited collection of posts and can discover new blogs they might not be aware of.

Submission guidelines:

Submit your post using this form no later than 5pm EST on the first Sunday of the month. Submissions must relate to the subject matter of the Carnival. One submission per blog per Carnival. All posts are included at the editor’s discretion and any considered inappropriate, off-topic, or of sub-par quality may be rejected.

All participants whose posts are selected for must post a link back to that edition of the Carnival within one week of its publication, also including a link to the Carnival home page at

Notebook Addict of the Week: Carol

A reader named Carol sent me a really nice email a couple of months ago and I’m finally getting around to making her an Addict of the Week. Here’s some of what she had to say (I’m blushing as I write this!):

I love you, I love your website, and I love all the other people out there who love notebooks.  I used to think I was the only one!  No more….

First a shot of my lifetime in notebooks, kept on and off since I was twelve (I’m 48).

Then my current stash.  The top three are in use, the others are lying in wait.  Their number is smaller than usual because I just gave a pile of rejects to a thrift store.

Currently coveting: another Miquelrius, Rhodia ePure, Bob’s Your Uncle Do-Doodle.

I asked Carol about the small green notebook in the lower left corner of the second photo, as I really liked the look of it and hadn’t seen anything quite like it:

The little green notebook is old, though I have no idea how old. Someone gave it to me, it’s made by a company called Warwick, and it’s actually called “Album of Snapshots” with heavy paper for mounting pictures (the pages are perforated, and the instructions say to remove every other one, I guess so the book will keep it’s shape once the photos are in), but I figured it would work for collage, drawing, etc. too.

Finally, here’s a question Carol was pondering. I’ve often wondered the same thing, and I’ll bet many other readers have too:

Has anyone ever put forward a psychological theory as to WHY we love notebooks so much? I mean, I understand the need to be creative and remember things and make lists and whatnot, but loving the actual physical notebooks, keeping empty ones around and still buying more, always looking for a better one?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments…but it may just be one of those mysteries of the world that we’ll never understand!

A big thanks again to Carol for sharing her notebook addiction!

Daisy Yellow’s Top Picks for Art Materials

For a nice list of recommended materials for “art journaling, doodling and beyond,” check out this post at the blog Daisy Yellow. Among lots of other fun supplies, these notebooks are mentioned:

Moleskine Notebooks ~ I use the sketch lined or unlined Moleskine for doodling, making lists, planning trips, drawing mandalas.

Moleskine Watercolor Notebook ~ I use these for neocolor II crayons (wet/dry), doodling, watercoloring, drawing mandalas, acrylic paint, anything. The watercolor paper is beyond fabulous. I’ve painted on the back/front of the same page without a problem! No bleed-through. Expensive but a worthwhile luxury.

Hand Book Artist Journals ~ Great for sketching, doodling, writing & journaling. The paper is so enjoyable to use, and they come in a lot of fun shapes and sizes. Love the square notebooks. We use Hand books as travel journals.

Purse Notebooks at That’s So Cuegly

“Cuegly,” for those who don’t know, means “ugly enough to be cute.” I’ll let you be your own judge of where these fall on the attractiveness scale… but they’re quite unique! And at the link below, you can learn exactly how to make one.


The Pleasures of Back to School Shopping

From Canada’s National Post, a nice appreciation of the pleasures of notebooks, pens and other supplies: Move over Moleskine.

Oh, how I longed for that pack of Prismacolor pencils! Yet every year my consolation prize was a plastic pack of Laurentiens and, if I was lucky, a fruit-scented eraser. But the gold-tipped deep red Prismacolor box is what I remember most from the annual August school supply shopping of my childhood. Hilroy notebooks, Berol HBs, Elmer’s Glue and Pink Pearl erasers, maybe a Trapper Keeper. But certainly never the Prismacolor or the fancier-still Faber-Castells.

I got all excited for a minute, thinking ” ‘Hilroy?!?!?’ A new notebook brand I’ve never heard of!” But they’re actually pretty dull-looking, along the lines of Mead notebooks. Further along in the article, Moleskine, Rhodia, Field Notes, Canteo, Whitelines, Clairefontaine, Rite in the Rain and other brands are mentioned. And I liked this quote at the end:

The beauty with having a notebook is that you write anything random down. You can always cross it out later.