The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook

The Art of Manliness blog muses on the long tradition of keeping a notebook:

The idea of carrying around a pocket notebook has become quite popular these last few years, revived by the introduction of the current incarnation of the “Moleskine” into the market. It’s become so popular that I’m afraid it has come to be seen as trendy or faddish, and this is putting some men off to starting this important habit themselves. Some find the Cult of the Moleskine and its faux history understandably distasteful. The company shills their pricey Made in China notebooks as the notebook of Hemingway, Van Gogh, and Matisse, when the company that currently makes them only got into the business in 1997.

But don’t let the pocket notebook’s current image dissuade you from carrying one around. The truth is that you don’t need to use a Moleskine (unless you really like them)-even some note cards clipped together will do. And far from being a modern fad, the pocket notebook has a long, important, and manly history. Pocket notebooks were part of the arsenal of a long list of great men from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Edison (we’re working on an in-depth post of how these men used their notebooks for the future). The repositories of eminent men’s personal effects nearly always includes a pocket notebook full of their ideas and musings.

Of course, all of this can be equally valid for women too!

The best part of the article is all the examples he’s found of notebook use throughout history by different types of people, including “the farmer,” “the salesman,” “the minister,” and “the student.” Here’s an example:

The Boy Scout
“In one of the pockets there should be a lot of bachelor buttons, the sort that you do not have to sew on to your clothes, but which fasten with a snap, something like glove buttons. There should be a pocket made in your shirt or vest to fit your notebook, and a part of it stitched up to hold a pencil and a toothbrush….

No camper, be he hunter, fisherman, scout, naturalist, explorer, prospector, soldier or lumberman, should go into the woods without a notebook and hard lead pencil. Remember that notes made with a hard pencil will last longer than those made with ink, and be readable as long as the paper lasts.

Every scientist and every surveyor knows this and it is only tenderfeet, who use a soft pencil and fountain pen for making field notes, because an upset canoe will blur all ink marks and the constant rubbing of the pages of the book will smudge all soft pencil marks.

Therefore, have a pocket especially made, so that your notebook, pencil and fountain pen, if you insist upon including it—will fit snugly with no chance of dropping out.” The American Boys’ Handybook of Camp-lore and Woodcraft, By Daniel Carter Beard, 1920

Read more, including lots of readers’ comments on their own note-taking habits at The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook | The Art of Manliness.

Moleskine Monday: Juan Rayos

This is one of the most gorgeous examples of notebook art I’ve ever seen:

See more at Juan Rayos – Chinese Moleskine | Aqua-Velvet.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Mónica

Monica posted this nice stack of journals on Flickr:


There isn’t any commentary, so it’s hard to tell if she’s truly an addict, but I think anyone who photographs a nice, worn-in stack of notebooks so lovingly must surely qualify!
See more on Flickr.

Book: From Old Notebooks

Now here’s a book many of us might like to read! Or write ourselves…

From Old Notebooks is a memoir, a novel, a poem, an essay — a self-styled memoivel — which exemplifies how love of language and literature enriches our lives, and explores, often with great humor, the many pitfalls confronting a young writer and father on his journey to maturity. Each entry in From Old Notebooks is literally that — an idea written in a writer’s draftbook. Within this unconventional format, Lavender-Smith is able to tell us the story of his life while ruminating on subjects ranging from fatherhood to philosophy, art, football, music, politics, TV, teaching, fear of death, and everything in between. In the process, Lavender-Smith lays bare the day-to-day trials and tribulations of an artist confronted by the pressures of culture, family, writing, and, simply, being. Witty, original, poignant and deeply insightful, From Old Notebooks is a coming-of-age story, an ode to writing and reading, to living and loving — a celebration of “human thought in all its glory, all its mundanity.”

Find out more at Evan Lavender-Smith or buy at Amazon.

A Collection a Day, 2010: Day 228

I LOVE the “Collection a Day” blog. Vintage office supplies are often featured, and the other day she posted these old journals:
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A Collection a Day, 2010: Day 228

Moleskine Monday: One Hundred (and three) Notebooks

Imagine buying 100 at a time! From a Flickr user:

One Hundred (and three) Moleskine Notebooks

I have just finished writing my book on Moleskine notebooks titled “Moleskine: How to make use of the “legendary” notebook”.

I wanted to send a Moleskine notebook to each and every book reviewer and prominent reader of the book, so I bought a hundred of them.

It’s like Bruce Chatwin’s dream come true, isn’t it?

The book can be ordered here (in Japanese):

www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4478013268/

via One Hundred (and three) Moleskine Notebooks | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Notebook Addict of the Week: A Penchant for Paper

Heather at A Penchant for Paper asks How Many Notebooks Are Too Many?:

The true notebook addict would probably say that it would be impossible to have too many notebooks, but I am not so sure.  I have been feeling overwhelmed lately by the number of notebooks that I am currently using, as well as feeling the need to simplify and use fewer notebooks.  Here are all of the notebooks that I am using right now:
There’s lots more descriptive information about these in the original post.

“Little Notebooks Everywhere”

From the Huffington Post:

The thing about opening your mind up to a new story idea is that you once you do it, there’s no going back. All of a sudden, everything seems like it has to do with the new idea. Songs and lyrics and billboards and articles and movies and books and people seem to come at me, out of nowhere, non-stop. It can be hard to breathe. I grab at all these things and try to capture them before they are lost in the noise and shuffle of life, and I do this with little notebooks.

I keep little notebooks everywhere — in my purse, in my car, on my nightstand. My favorite notebooks are the thin, soft Moleskine notebooks that come in colors, now (green and red and pink!) but they are expensive. I reluctantly bought several sets of Moleskine knock-offs at Forever 21 last year for about $1 each, which are nowhere near as inspiring, but they are serviceable.

Read more at Jennie Nash: Little Notebooks Everywhere: How the Idea for a Novel Grows.

Top Opening Pocket Lab Notebook

Here’s something that struck me as unusual: a top-opening lab notebook.

It looks a bit like the Book Company lab notebook I reviewed, but that was side opening, as is every other lab notebook I’ve seen. Also, this one is different in that the pages are printed on only one side, which might appeal to notebook users who like a mix of lined and plain pages.
They’re $7.99 here: Scientific Notebook Company. Other styles are also available.