Random Giveaway! Today Only!

Just for the heck of it, I’m going to give away 3 totally random notebooks today, to 3 random people selected from comments on this post, which must complete the sentence “The best notebook I ever had was….”

No particular brand is being offered, I’m just going to pick a few from my stash and give away one notebook each to the 3 lucky winners. So if you like notebooks and surprises, leave a comment on this post completing the sentence  “The best notebook I ever had was….” to enter. The deadline for entry is 11:59PM EST tonight.

Good luck!

[now closed to new entries, thanks!]

David Mitchell’s Notebook

I wasn’t familiar with David Mitchell’s books, but there was an interesting article about him in this past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine:

Since the appearance of his debut novel, “Ghostwritten,” in 1999 — a fifth, “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,” is being published this week — Mitchell’s writing has been compared with that of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Twain, Sterne, Joyce, Nabokov, Pynchon, Salinger, Chandler, DeLillo, Murakami, William Gibson and Ursula K. LeGuin — a baker’s dozen that begins to suggest both the heights of hyperbole scaled by Mitchell’s admirers and the Hydra-headed nature of his novelistic output. Mitchell’s novels have featured a global and historical sweep unusual for writers of his generation.They are set everywhere from contemporary Japan and London to the 19th-century South Seas to California in the 1970s to dystopic distant futures — sometimes all in the same novel.

I definitely want to check out his books now (especially The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which just got a great review from Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times), but what I’d really like to see are his notebooks, from which these images are taken:

Notebook Addict of the Week: Missy

This week’s Addict emailed me this photo of her stash– I love the variety, from simple spiral notebooks and composition books to large journals and looseleaf binders. (It’s interesting how some notebook addicts have a lot of repetition of the same notebooks, and others use many different kinds…)

Here’s what Missy had to say:

I love reading your blog. Attached is my stash…..glad there are others out there obsessed like me….and even more so. I love the photos of other peoples notebook collections and also your product reviews with the photos and the tests you do….all of it!

Thanks Missy! I love all of it too!

Notebook Stories on Facebook

I’m now on Facebook, with an official Notebook Stories page. I hope this will be a fun place for readers to discuss their favorite notebooks and share photos, or you can just use it to keep track of Notebook Stories via your Facebook newsfeed. I’m having a little trouble getting it to pick up my feed of blog posts, but stay tuned, I hope to get that working soon!

Review: Piccadilly Primo

As I’ve often mentioned here, I’m a fan of Piccadilly’s little black notebooks. I’ve probably bought 8-10 of them by now and I have used 4 of the small ones as my daily notebook. I haven’t paid as much attention to the rest of their product line, but when I saw the small Primo Journal at a Borders store, I decided to buy one and give it a try.

The Primo is a very different product, with some things I like, and some I don’t. Let’s take a look!

Packaging is similar to the regular notebooks: it’s shrinkwrapped in the store, with the removable horizontal paper band. The first obvious difference is the horizontal elastic wrapping around the notebook.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

The back has an embossed logo, as usual.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Below you can see how the cover sticks out a bit beyond the pages. It’s flexible enough that the elastic would bend it, but there is a little notch cut into the edge to prevent that. The cover has a sort of rubbery feel with the dots giving it texture. I noticed that it almost seems to pick up dirt like an eraser– after taking these photos, I had the journal knocking around in a bag for a few days and the bright red cover picked up a lot of very obvious dirt smudges.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

You can see below how the cover on my notebook was already curling a bit at the corners just from being in the shrinkwrap. You can also see that the spine is rounded and sticks out quite a bit. I wish the cover was trimmed more closely to the pages, and that the spine was more squared-off.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Compared to the standard black Piccadilly notebook, the Primo is quite a bit thicker, with 288 pages of 100gsm paper. It’s still approximately 3.5 x 5.5″. I love the chunky shape of the Primo, it feels great in your hand.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Here’s one of my major beefs with the Primo– once you undo the elastic, it just flaps around on the spine. Vertical elastics can be tucked around the back cover if you don’t want to use them, and I really prefer that. The only possible benefit I could see for the elastic being this way is that maybe you could stick your wrist through it to hold the notebook more securely and not lose it while you’re on a rollercoaster or something. But you know, that really wasn’t something I was too worried about!

Piccadilly Primo Journal

The inside front cover is blank. So is the inside back cover, except for a small logo and barcode. There’s no pocket.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Despite the thickness of the notebook, it opens nice and flat.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

The paper is great– smooth and heavy, and most of my usual test pens didn’t bleed through at all.

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Piccadilly Primo Journal

Bottom line, I like this notebook but I don’t love it. I find myself turning it over in my hands, just enjoying the shape, but the minute I un-do that elastic, it bugs me. I may try to do some surgery on the notebook to see if I can remove the elastic– I think I’d rather just have a couple of small holes in the spine. Other factors to consider are that the thickness and the dirt-attracting properties of the cover might not make it the best notebook to carry around, but it is certainly a pleasure to write in, so it might be good for a stay-at-home journal for longer writings.

I neglected to record exactly how much I paid for the notebook at Borders– I think it was $5.99 or $6.99. You can also buy Primo Journals in small, medium and large, in blue, red, and orange, at the Piccadilly online store, for $8.95 small, $12.95 medium, or $14.95 large.

Kids Who Love Notebooks

I always love coming across stories about kids using notebooks:

My son commented that he needed more notebooks. I asked him why. Didn’t he have several notebooks that weren’t full? Yes, he said, but one was for thoughts on his school work, and the second was about the environment, and the third one was for our trips. He just started a new topic in the last one he owned, and he wanted to have a blank one in reserve, for the next topic that was bound to surface.

I went over and looked over his shoulder. Beautiful rows of assured, second-grade English-style cursive lined the pages. He was writing about Antarctica. Geography, science, penguins. Whatever interested him.

Bravo! Sounds like the start of a life-long habit…

Read more at SwissMystery: Notebooks.

“My boyfriend keeps reading my journal”

Have you ever had to deal with a problem like this?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 10 months, and we’ve grown extremely close to each other. He’s a wonderful guy, and we’ve talked seriously about marraige. However I have a small problem: he’s read my journal twice now. The first time he read it, he’d found an old one, and read something I’d written about an ex. We had a little fight, but I thought we’d worked it out. However a couple days ago, he began asking questions.. ones that concerned particularly topics that I’d written about a week ago in my journal. I knew he’d read it again, and I asked him about it….

Read more about this dilema, and the interesting dialogue in response at CafeMom.

I’ve had some major issues with this myself– my mother and sister both read my journal when I was going through some difficult times in college, and when I argued with my mother about the invasion of privacy, she basically said that it was her duty to know what was going on with her child, and that I shouldn’t have written anything down that I didn’t want others to read.
I also had a relationship with someone who read my journal more than once. The first time, I didn’t mind, because it ended up helping resolve some doubt about whether we were actually interested in each other, so the journal was actually what got us together. The second time, I’d written something that was so blown out of proportion that it led to us breaking up! I think for that reason, I’ve had some periods of time during certain relationships when I tended not to keep a journal, or perhaps to leave things out of it that I knew could be difficult to read. I’ve also had phases where I kept two journals, and kept the one with the super-secret stuff in my office where I knew my partner couldn’t read it. I’m glad I don’t have to do that now– as the comments at Cafe Mom point out, it’s all about trust, on both sides. I trust my partner not to look, and there’s nothing in there that I’m ashamed of anyway.

Does anyone else have any stories to share about others reading your notebooks?

Moleskine Monday: Pressed Flowers & Leaves from Mt. Hood

Moleskinerie linked to these beautiful images and I liked them so much I had to share it too: Mt. Hood Moleskine Journal.

I love the look of the pages with the light wash of color and pressed-in plants. I haven’t tried to save plants in a notebook like this since I was a kid and don’t really remember if there’s a trick to doing it– how do you make sure they stay in, other than lots of pressure on the notebook? How do you keep them from sticking to the facing page? Are certain kinds of paper better for doing this? I’m inspired to try it and would love some tips!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Snarky’s Machine

This week’s addict blogs about office supplies at Does This Pen Write?, and based on the photos below, she’s been testing her pens in quite a few notebooks, especially Rhodias. She’s also fond of basic black sketchbooks, Clairefontaine, Ecosystem and others. You can read more about her various notebooks in these posts on her blog.