Category Archives: Leuchtturm

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!

Questions from Readers

Here’s some questions from readers that have come in over the last few months. Some of them are stumpers, for me at least, but I hope some other sharp-eyed readers will be able to answer!

From Chris:

Do you by any chance know what type of notebook/journal Bradley Cooper is using in the movie ‘Burnt’?

I haven’t seen the movie, so I hope someone else can chime in!

From Ernie:

Do you know of a spiral notebook that uses yellow pages like a legal pad does? I’m looking for a spiral notebook but the pages yellow like legal pad instead of white.

This may depend on whether you want top-opening or side-opening. There are definitely spiral bound legal pads that open top to bottom, like this one. I also found this side-opening notebook that is only 6×9″ but the pages are yellow with legal ruling on one side and squared on the other.

From Fuzzy:

I’m trying to find a sketch journal that has both lined and blank paper, lined paper on one side and blank on the other. I’m not looking for the journal where the page is blank at the top and lined at the bottom.

The Dialogue notebooks I reviewed have this feature. I also found this though I’m not sure what the quality would be like. The ArtTrails Nature Notebook sounds like an interesting option, as it contains alternating pages of recycled lined paper and unlined watercolor paper.

From Jenn:

I’m experimenting with fore-edge painting.  Acrylic paint sits on the outside of the page where I want it, so when I bend the pages the image can show, but it flakes after too many openings and when you separate stuck together pages.  Oil and wax bases stain the inner paper.  So far, water bases are either not opaque enough or stain the paper.  Of course, the type of paper is also an issue.  The pages of a watercolor pad would be too thick, but too thin paper would soak through to the next page, the finish on the paper is an issue, etc.  So maybe a fake gild edge that I can paint then shut the book and wipe off would be the answer.  This would need to be a plain blank book.  Everything online is expensive and/or has leather.  It would also have to be cheap enough to experiment with and throw away if it doesn’t work.  If it really does, I’d buy more.  Do you have any ideas of cheap, plain, fake gilt edge notebooks?

I have not seen anything particularly cheap with gilded edges. The Object Series notebook I reviewed is $16 with gilded edges but it does have a leather cover and might not be suitable for painting on.

From Frances:
I do lots and lots of note-taking and have been using 3×5 cards (cheap ones) since I have filled up entire shoe boxes with my notes (separated in small cheap envelopes with the content indicated on the outside). Using so many, I can’t justify those nice cards from Levenger at 10 cents a piece! But, the Oxford/EssLT card packs in stores here (middle of nowhere New Mexico) are so rough I can’t hardly stand to use them. Back when I was still working, I used the Levenger circa junior size paper/notebooks and some smaller sizes, but have not been buying those lately due to budget constraints. Have you found a ‘system’ that includes nicer paper AND is economical AND with refillable pages?
I haven’t tried the Staples Arc system notebooks, but they are said to be pretty comparable to Levenger yet lower priced. I wish I knew of a brand of index cards made from nice paper, but I don’t!
From Doug:
I have used the following sketchbook for a while, and generally like them… the Hand Book . I live in Canada however, and sometimes this can make it harder to find. Anyhow, I use it for art, sketches, etc. I like the buff colour (not pure white), and I like the slight tooth it has. Do you have any recommendations for similar style notebook style sketchbooks that are good for artists?

Check out the Art Alternatives Sketch & Draw sketchbooks I reviewed, or the Hahnemuhle travel journal. These both have very similar paper to the HandBook.

From Richard:
Years back I bought a 7 x 10 notebook from a company called writers block. The paper was lightweight and had a dot grid. The book weighed only four oz.   It fit well alongside my iPad I’ve been searching high and low for something similar.
I am guessing you mean the Writersblok notebooks from Kikkerland. They have changed their offerings in the last few years, but their recent Writersblok notebooks are quite nice. The larger ones are the size of an iPad Mini. If you want something closer to the size of a regular iPad, the Extra Large size Moleskine Cahier might be a good fit. But neither of these options comes with dot grid paper. If you want dotted paper, Leuchtturm might have some options for you, particularly the medium or large softcovers.
From Dmitri:
I was planning to buy a Moleskine Hardcover, Plain, 5×8.25 notebook, but had heard the pages were very thin, which is something I am trying to avoid because I am planning to use pens, paints, glue, etc. in my journal. What I’m really looking for is a plain notebook around the size of 5×8.25 with pages thick enough for me to freely use whatever media I would like and sturdy enough so it can withstand thick pages and last a good amount of time.
You could try the Moleskine “Art Plus” Sketchbook in that size, as it has heavier pages than the regular “Classic” plain notebook, though they may still be not quite heavy enough for some kinds of pens and markers. HandBook Artist Journal would also be a good option, as they come in portrait and landscape versions in 5 x 8.25, as well as pocket and square formats. If you need something even sturdier, Stillman and Birn has lots of options for different papers and sizes and bindings. You can find a guide to their paper types here.

From Brent:

I have been looking for some notebooks I used to get at Target that I just loved.  They weer about 3×5 or maybe slightly larger and had a cardboard cover, were spiral bound (which was big enough to carry a pen in …. the main reason I liked them), and some had an elastic closure (the second reason I really liked them).  I used to get them all the time about 10 years ago, but have been unable to find them recently.  Are you familiar with these and if so, do you know where I might be able to purchase them?

I don’t have the opportunity to shop at Target very often so I’m not sure what these might have been. Hopefully one of our other readers might have an idea!

Thanks as always to our readers for sending in questions, and helping answer questions!

Notebook Addict of the Week: William

This is one of my favorite notebook addict submissions, because these notebooks are truly full of stories!

“My name is William, last November marked 20 years for me as a ships agent. Indirectly my notebook habit began in the US Army. A very instrumental part of infantry basic training is you are required to keep a pen and one of those green government issued memorandum pocket notebooks with you at all times. After the Army in 1995 I began working in shipping as a ships agent in the Port of Baltimore. At the time, we had these great bound pocket notebooks in the supply closet. Before smart phones, PDA’s, emails, and heck a 56K digital rolodex which cost $89 back then and was considered cutting edge, there were notebooks. During the course of my duties as a boarding agent, I was required to keep track of an array of numbers, times, dates, ships water drafts, bunker oil, water and cargo quantities, and coordinate with a never ending trail of issues that required jotting down phone numbers and details on the go. Common to those in this field, either ships mates, or cargo surveyors, a pocket notebook to keep up with all the details of the job is fairly standard issue. Time is money in shipping and each and every figure has a dollar figure significance to the report or document it will ultimately be transposed into. In some cases, a wrong time, or missing time, could ultimately cost someone 1000’s of dollars if recorded wrong by the ships agent.


Somewhere in my parents attic is the first 5 years of pocket notebooks I used then. Around late 1999 I began working with a new fleet of Norwegian vessels, I really liked the European notebooks the vessels officers used and would occasionally barter some new ones away for a magazine or a quick shopping trip in trade. As I moved up in the ranks, with more administrative duties building, I moved to larger notebooks, first composition, then Red & Blacks, next Moleskines, and currently Leuchtturm is preferred, but have added in a new mix of Clairfontaine and Rhodia pads. Aside from the possibly missing boarding notebooks of the earlier years, I have yet to throw even one of them away.


My boarding notebooks hold a wide record of ships passing in the night, ETA’s to far off places, phone numbers of overseas contacts, biographical details of sailors, stowage plans, and cargo quantities of large shipments of oils, grains, coals, and ores. Once and a while, even a ships official stamp was placed as a souvenir of the time onboard.


Some unique memories in these books, boarding the M/v “Tampa” on her return trip after rescuing 100’s of refugees off Christmas Island which resulted in an international standoff between the Norwegian and Australian governments. Emergency contacts collected after the passing Hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans communications. Arrival details of the “Scotia Prince” which was chartered by FEMA to house emergency service workers in the devastated St. Bernard’s Parish. They contain details of 100’s of ocean going vessels sailing to and from ports far around the world. Hopefully my wife is not reading,  they may even include a few phone numbers of wild nights gone by. These notebooks were always in my pocket as it’s a 24 hour job and your always on call, they were in smoky ships offices with taking times from Pakistani officers, engine rooms, bar rooms, restaurant tables, dropped in the mud, carried in the rain, up ships ladders, even written in while sitting on the toilet.


These days I regretfully don’t board a ship very often, I am now vice president of the company and we grew from 2 offices, to 18 offices and now attend about 4000 port calls a year. But when training new young agents, I always explain to them, despite all the technology, wireless devices and cloud based systems available to today, no better organizational tool exists then a pocket notebook and I make sure a quality supply of them remains in our supply room for them today, just as there was 20 years ago for me. Today my notebook as a mix of to-do lists, daily planning, conference call notes brainstorms, employee reviews, and meeting notes from here in Houston, to NYC and far as away as Geneva.


Being left handed, I always required some sort of bound notebook and my handwriting style is that of a doctor. First with mechanical pencils, now a new love of fountain pens, ultimately it was proved my notebook habit was best served by better quality paper. I am not a “in the lines” type mind and prefer blank or gridded pages. Despite best efforts to keep in a particular direction, depending on the stress level of the day, the pages contain a wide away of chicken scratch, rough calculations, lists of times, phone numbers, neat and structured meeting notes, or rapid shorthand and even some timeless scribbles from my kids who love to grab them and leave their own mark on my day.


I do however still keep a pocket notebook with me at all times, be it the waxed canvas cover with Field Notes for weekends, or the leather cover and Moleskine combo I use on those few occasions when get to board ships, or the pocket Leuchtturm that I use when traveling to keep addresses and arrangements quick at hand. Despite being a HUGE Evernote addict, the paper notebook is first and foremost, often pages of which are scanned into Evernote for easier archival access –vs- the old box in the garage where they ultimately get placed to rest.


The world is an increasingly fast paced driven by electronics, apps and phones get smarter. The ability to organize and collaborate get easier, or does it ? Nothing replaces the mind-clearing peace, or retains the moments of the day exactly like placing pen and pencil to paper.”

A big thank you to William for sharing both his notebook addiction and his adventures in the maritime world!

Moleskine Monday: Sketch Album Review

I’ve had this Moleskine Sketch Album for quite a while and haven’t gotten around to reviewing it, mainly because I knew I’d probably be disappointed! Moleskine’s quality has been waning for years, and though their regular sketchbooks have been my favorite notebooks for a very long time, I’ve refused to buy any of the currently produced ones because they just aren’t the same anymore. Luckily, I have quite a stockpile of old ones! (After this post where I inventoried my spares and worried they might not last until I was in my 90s, I snagged quite a few more on eBay so now I probably have twice as many!)


Anyway, when the sketch album was first announced, I thought it was a good thing– I’d actually thought Moleskine should make a softcover sketchbook, thinking it could be a good alternative for on-the-go use. But the Sketch Album turns out not to be Sketchbook innards with a soft cover– it’s more like a Moleskine Cahier with upgraded paper.

When you open the shrinkwrap, you’ll notice the cardboard cover, which is just like the Cahiers, not the soft faux-leather used on the softcover notebooks. As usual there is stitching on the spine, and a pocket in the back, which is too tight for tucking much more than a few small sheets. When you remove the paper band, you’ll see that the back has been designed with some reference info and tools. I’m not sure how useful these are to most people.



Since Moleskine started labeling various notebooks as an “Art Plus” collection, they’ve started noting paper weights on the packaging, hoping to appeal to those of us who care about these things. The Sketch Album is 120 GSM. That sounds good compared to most upscale pocket notebooks, which tend to be in the 80-100 GSM range, but it’s a lot less than the regular Moleskine Sketchbook, which is 165 GSM. The difference is obvious– the paper in the sketch album feels thinner and floppier. Each sheet is perforated.


When I did my pen tests, I noticed that the sketch album paper actually feels softer to write on– I could hear the pen tips tapping more audibly on the regular sketchbook. The comparison below features an old “Modo e Modo” Moleskine  rather than a current production sketchbook. You can see right away how much worse the show-through and bleed-through is on the sketch album, with just a couple of exceptions. The album wins on how much the Accu-liner marker spreads when it is held on a spot for 5 seconds– the Modo sketchbook soaked it up and made a much bigger dot. And the Super Sharpie seemed to soak into the old sketchbook more too. But otherwise, the album did not do well at all, with fountain pens bleeding and feathering and lots more show-through. I tested some watercolor paints too– Moleskine does not claim that either of these notebooks is meant for watercolors, but I use them in the sketchbooks quite often. In the sketch album, the watercolors seemed to pull up the paper fibers more, creating a speckled texture that is much more noticeable than in the sketchbook.



So would I use this “Art Plus” sketch album for actual art? For pencil sketches, or perhaps fine pen & ink drawings with Pigma Micron pens, yes, I might use it. But I’d be much more likely to use it as an upgrade to the Moleskine Cahier or softcover Reporter Notebook. The sketch album is nicely flexible and pocketable, and the paper feels great to write on with fine point gel ink pens. The paper is a nice step up from regular lightweight Moleskine paper– not enough of a step up to make fountain pen users happy, but others will enjoy it for daily jottings. But if you are an artist who likes the regular sketchbooks, stick with them.

To buy: Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbooks and Albums on Amazon. They also have interesting alternatives like the Leuchtturm Hardcover Pocket Sketchbook Black, which has 180 GSM paper, and the Pen & Ink Heavy-Weight Blank Sketch Book— make sure you get the heavy-weight one which has 145 GSM paper– read the full description.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Lukas

This week’s addict hails from Malta, where he’s amassed quite a collection! Here’s his photos:

lukas2015-07-06 18.49.06lukas2015-07-28 17.50.54lukas2015-07-23 09.49.02

I love seeing them laid out so neatly in rows, and beyond the obvious Field Notes and Rhodia and a few other brands I recognize, I think there are some European brands here that are less common. I’d love to know more about them!

Thanks for sharing your addiction, Lukas!

Notebook Addict of the Week (Again): Olia

Olia was previously an addict of the week about a year ago. Since then, she’s found a new love!

“I’m obsessed with pocket notebooks and have found that the perfect one for me is the soft cover Leuchtturm notebook. Your blog inspired me to test these Leuchtturms and I’m really glad I had! I’m afraid the obsession has moved to a whole new level. I like these so much I collected quite a few to make sure I never run out of my favorite notebook.”

Leuchturm notebook-extra pocketBlank notebooksLeuchtturm soft cover white notebook

Leuchtturm Softcover Notebooks

Thanks again to Olia for sharing her growing addiction!

A Soccer Broadcaster’s Notebooks

I love notebook pages that are dense with information. These ones below, belonging to BBC Radio soccer commentator Nick Barnes, are just packed with writing, color and data– sometimes even little flags for the countries the players are from. All this information could have been captured in a less elaborate way, I’m sure, but Barnes has made each soccer match a work of art.

One of the notebooks seems to be a large size Leuchtturm.


All photographs by Henrik Knudsen for Eight by Eight.

Source: Cheat Sheets I: The Art of Commentary With BBC’s Nick Barnes | Eight by Eight

Notebook Addict of the Week: JournalJoy

This week’s addict emailed me some lovely photos of an extensive collection!

image_1 image_2 image

In her own words:

I have been writing since I was 13 years old and have had passion for journals ever since. A good notebook inspires me and tickles my creativity, makes me wanna express myself on it’s crisp untouched pages. It’s always there, nudging me to explore life and to dig a little deeper.
I mostly use Leuchtturm 1917, along with Moleskine, Ogami, Rustico and many more.
About a year ago I started a YouTube channel called Journaljoy,
where I mostly do notebook reviews and comparisons, like this one:

I am looking forward to watching some of those videos so I can see this collection in even more detail! Thanks for sharing your addiction, Journaljoy!

Shopping for Notebooks at Book People

I recently went to Book People, a great independent bookstore in Austin, Texas. They have a huge selection of gift items and stationery, including lots of notebooks from Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Miquelrius, Michael Roger, HandBook, Paperblanks, Rhodia, Field Notes and many more.

Here’s what I had to snag for myself, as I’d never seen these in a store before:

map notebook32map notebookmap notebook 1

It’s not the most practical notebook, but I loved the design! A variety of map designs were available. Some were only on the front cover, but others had maps both front and back. The edges of the paper are rough-torn and seem like they’ve been dipped in something to artificially age them. The overall effect is quite attractive, though I’m a little worried that the binding won’t be very durable. There is no branding anywhere on the notebook, so I have no idea who makes them. BookPeople’s price label says “Worldbuyers Blank Books” but a Google search hasn’t turned anything up.

The other new discovery for me was some Field Notes-like 3-packs of notebooks in themes for Grumps and Introverts. A fun gift item for sure! They’re made by Archie McPhee.

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Review and Giveaway: Penroll

I tend not to review very many notebook-related accessories on this site. There are various pen-holders and notebook covers on the market but I am not usually interested in them, as I like to keep my notebooks pretty simple and unencumbered. But when I first spotted the Penroll, I was immediately attracted to it and contacted the maker for a sample. What made this item change my mind about accessorizing a notebook? Let’s take a look.


The Penroll is part notebook cover, but mainly a holder for pens, pencils or brushes, and an eraser. It is made of sturdy stitched canvas, with small metal clips at the sides that clasp onto your notebook. The design is very simple and un-fussy, with just a subtle tag with the Penroll name on it, and it doesn’t interfere with or damage the notebook– you can still use the elastic closure and back pocket.


The Penroll is made in sizes to fit typical Moleskine formats– small and large, and the large even comes in a landscape format too. Because the portrait format Penrolls don’t cover the full height of the notebook, they’ll also adapt to the slightly taller Leuchtturm, or any other brand with a similar width and thickness. The colors and texture of the canvas also look nice with HandBook Artist Journals, though their slightly thicker size makes for a snugger fit.


The Penroll adds significant bulk to your notebook, especially when it’s full of pens, but I actually like the thick and chunky feel of the whole bundle. That said, for me, this won’t be a cover that I’ll keep on a notebook I’m carrying in my bag 100% of the time. I see it more as a ready-to-go art kit that you can keep stocked with a few favorite pens and brushes, and then snap onto your sketchbook when you’re heading out for a drawing session. I think the Penroll really shines as an urban sketching tool– you can hold your notebook and spare drawing instruments in one hand, so you can easily switch between pens without having to rummage in a separate pen case. It won’t prevent your notebook from opening flat while held in your hand, though it might be a little awkward if you’re setting it on a flat surface.

This red one is a keeper for me– I know it will come in handy for sketching on some of my travels. The Penroll is definitely worth checking out if like to keep a variety of pens with your notebook, and makes a great gift for anyone who likes sketching out in the field, urban or otherwise. You can buy Penroll at their online store here as well as at a few retailers in Europe.

I will be giving away the large landscape Penroll in black and the large portrait Penroll in blue. I’ll randomly select the two winners from entries received in any of these ways:

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

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday December 12, 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.