September 12, 2019

"Major points for surviving 60-plus years and actually being functional, and very cool that Rad & Hungry sells authentic Uruguayan notebooks..."

"... but the novelty wore off quickly. The sepia-singed pamphlet — it only has 16 pages — feels more suitable for a school-age child practicing cursive than a functional notebook you would take to a meeting. I docked it major points for flimsiness: When I flipped the cover over and back, the paper separated from its stapled binding. I’m not sure what we can fairly expect from 60-year-old staples, but shuffling around a stack of loose papers defeats the whole purpose."

The Uruguayan Vintage Libertadores Notebook comes in at #86 on "The 100 Best Notebooks, As Tested by Strategist Editors From spiral-bound to linen-clad to 1950s-era" (New York Magazine).

I'm a big consumer of notebooks, so I was fascinated by the sheer scope of this ranking and also to see where my various notebooks ranked — the Clairefontaine Classic Wirebound Notebook is only #79?!! — and what I might want to try in the future. Thanks to New York Magazine for figuring all this out.

52 comments:

Danno said...

New Yorkers or people who write for their print/online media would be the last people I would trust to evaluate notebooks.

JohnAnnArbor said...

If there's enough demand for writing notebooks in this era to make a list like that possible, are people still learning shorthand?

rehajm said...

Moleskin Volant is me! That leuchttterm whatever is what my wife uses for her bullet journal. Number one does look nice...

Spirals are right out for me- left handed. My classmate freshman year was also left handed but he got around that by writing his notes backward- right to left. It turned out perfect on the page. Freaked everybody out. When he got bored he took notes in pentameter....

pacwest said...

When faced by important decisions like which notebook to buy I always ask myself 'which notebook would DJT use'?

Yancey Ward said...

The only notebooks on that entire list I have ever used are the Meads (#88, I think the number was)- they were the stock scribbling notebooks my employer used.

The best notebook I have ever had was one I picked up my freshman year in college- it was spiral bound, had really thick covers made of some very sturdy paper composite, was college ruled paper, and had 300 pages. I wish I had bought 100 of them that day since I haven't been able to find it again in 35 years.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I always ask myself 'which notebook would DJT use'?

Someone else: "Hey, write this down..."

Black Bellamy said...

Create new note, call it my autobiography. I was born in the house my father built. Period. New paragraph. You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more. Exclamation point. And that's how I take notes now. Period. By speaking them. Period. Because voice to text is really smart and easy now. Period. I have a bunch of notebooks, comma, made out of paper, comma, all blank, period. Save note.

Fernandistein said...

They didn't follow their stated criteria and methodology for rating their top notebook:

"1. Public Supply Soft Cover Notebook
...this notebook from Public Supply came out a little further ahead for a few reasons: First, Public Supply donates a portion of every sale to public-school classrooms throughout the U.S."

Fernandistein said...

In the late 1950s, partly because of a worldwide decrease in demand for Uruguayan agricultural products and partly because of a notebook shortage, Uruguayans suffered from a steep drop in their standard of living, which led to student militancy and labor unrest.

Phil 314 said...

Now I’m curious, does the Professor do Bullit journaling?

As for notebooks:
- I prefer the Leuchtterm
- I still end up feeling disorganized with a journal no matter what note taking system I use
- Evernote has become my disorganized virtual journal
- want to transition to electronic with iPad noting but the feel of a notebook keeps calling me.

Francisco D said...

This comes close to being a fountain pen post, Althouse.

What do you write with?

Michael said...

Jetpens.com has best selection of Japanese notebooks. The Japanese are crazy for notebooks. See Itoya store in the Ginza.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

One of the things I love about the internet are these comprehensive and, face it, slightly demented, drill-downs into prosaica. I look forward to reading the whole thing at leisure.

Laslo Spatula said...

Notebook paper is just toilet paper for wiping the ass of your mind.

So: 2-ply.

I am Laslo.

Ken B said...

For most writing, which for me often involves a bit of math or such, I like a good old style mechanical pencil with a thick lead you sharpen. Staedtler Mars is a good one.

Kevin said...

This was very useful. I bought the Moleskin Volant and bookmarked the list for the future.

Fernandistein said...

Here are the Herro Kitty notebooks which nymag.com was AFRAID to include in their comparison even though you no longer need to be able to write or draw in Japanese to use them.

ALP said...

I LOVE Clairfontaine notebooks - write in one daily. I am surprised to find that one so low on the list. Also have Rhodia and Tomoe River paper notebooks. Basically the Holy Trinity of fountain pen paper.

traditionalguy said...

Loved the 3x5 spiral top all weather. Perfect for trial lawyers witness interviews.

Wilbur said...

"One of the things I love about the internet are these comprehensive and, face it, slightly demented, drill-downs into prosaica." The Cracker Emcee Refulgent

Wilbur agrees completely, refulgently.

richlb said...

The Moleskine Cashier books are my go to for creative notes and sketching.

Traditional composition books suck. They never lay flat.

readering said...

Large price variation!

FrankiM said...

The best paper for fountain pen is Tomoe River. Drawing stick figure rats on expensive paper seems like a waste though.

reader said...

I never really used notebooks. Pee-chees rule!

Fernandistein said...

I never really used notebooks.

I used one for a while to keep a list of things I wanted to forget, but I left it somewhere.

Narr said...

As a librarian-archivist working with personal papers and organizational records, I learned that all that stuff gets old and dirty, dusty, crusty, and rusty, and the metal can be a bitch. OTOH it will probably be readable in 100 years--it was better to get those than the
collections with a lot of the last few decades of stored data . . .

When I started running the department I utilized whatever 8 X 11 college-ruled spiral-bound notebooks were available in the supply room, or bought whatever was cheap. Tracking on paper, the traditional way, was the only way I could stay abreast of the full spectrum media assault.

Narr
Don't miss any of that

Fernandistein said...

librarian-archivist

That's what I want to be in my next carnation. (Not kidding!)

Ralph L said...

My 8th grade Theology teacher, an Episcopal priest and dope, made us keep 2 spiral notebooks for all classwork, one everyday and a pretty copy for grading. PITA for the left-handed. At the end of year I had a ritual sacrifice in the backyard.

Dave Begley said...

Expensive!

My favorite notebook is the Creighton University Bluebook. Last used by me in 1982.

FWBuff said...

For those of us who are left-handed, any notebook bound (or spiraled) on the left is difficult to use. Writing pads or notebooks bound at the top are the way to go.

madAsHell said...

College ruled or Quadrille graph??

Our hostess likes to draw. I'll bet she is.....unruled!!

SDaly said...

Left-handed people are capable of learning to read and write? When did that happen?

SDaly said...

Quadrille graph is much better for pattern-doodling during lectures.

Wince said...

Which one would go best with my scarf and sweater as I preserve my most profound thoughts for the ages while eating brie and baguette at an outdoor cafe in Paris?

MikeR said...

"Major points for surviving 60-plus years and actually being functional" Hey! I did that. Kind of.

Francisco D said...

The best paper for fountain pen is Tomoe River.

It's good paper, but a little thin.

Rhodia is a nice standby, but its more about which paper to avoid with fountain pens.

Phidippus said...

I like the ruled marble-cover bound composition books they sell for $0.50 at the supermarket during the Back To School sales.

Pages never fall out, and there's lots of them in there between those stiff cardboard covers.

Occasionally some joker would bust me about them at work, but if I'm buying them, I'm content to be thrifty.

The Minnow Wrangler said...

They don't really mention the size of the pages. I prefer small pages as I write small and usually use the pages to make lists. If I want to draw something larger I'll use a sketch pad. If you have the right pen (Pilot G2 .038 Extra Fine) the paper doesn't matter very much.

ALP said...

FrankiM said:

"The best paper for fountain pen is Tomoe River. Drawing stick figure rats on expensive paper seems like a waste though."

Well that depends on the type of nib and ink used to draw said stick figure rats. Use a fude nib and a nice sheening ink - that there is some fancy pants stick figure rats!

Tomoe River paper is a bit lost on those that only write. You need to draw in various colors to really appreciate it - IMHO. The same drawing done on crap paper with fountain pens is positively radiant on Tomoe River, especially with shading or sheen inks. For color drawings I always reach for Tomoe River. If I'm going with simple black or a one color image - basic drawing paper.

Narr said...

After a longer look, the listicle is dopier than I thought. They evaluate page quality but say nothing about the acidity or otherwise of the paper itself.

Here's an irony of the marketplace. Recycled paper's best use is for heavier forms--for boxes etc.--but resources get wasted on the production of recycled high-end "environmentally-friendly" paper for notebooks and personal stationery. Nothing friendly about it.

Narr
Plus, the Chinese are cornering the market.

Narr said...

After a longer look, the listicle is dopier than I thought. They evaluate page quality but say nothing about the acidity or otherwise of the paper itself.

Here's an irony of the marketplace. Recycled paper's best use is for heavier forms--for boxes etc.--but resources get wasted on the production of recycled high-end "environmentally-friendly" paper for notebooks and personal stationery. Nothing friendly about it.

Narr
Plus, the Chinese are cornering the market.

Bill Peschel said...

I'm a lefty and never had a problem using spiral notebooks. I wish I was as brilliant with my words.

I write in Egyptian-made notebooks, 140 x 108 mm, 200 sheets, narrow ruled.

From Staples.

They work well with felt-tip pens, except when they get wet. With pens they can be a pain because parts of the page refuse to cooperate. It's like getting through a field of landmines without blowing a foot off.

tcrosse said...

As a right-hander, I find it easier to write on the verso page of a notebook by turning it upside-down. Maybe left-handers could do that to make it easier to write on the recto page? If the notebook is for one's private use, what difference does it make?

Josephbleau said...

I use Gold Fiber computation books, gridded. Each page has a page number stamped on it so you can’t rip pages out if your calcs turn out to be wrong in the future.

John Borell said...

I bullet journal and I love the leuchtturm1917

madAsHell said...

I guess I'm a piker. My notebook is a Meade 5-star with quadrille rule. I buy them at the drug store in UVillage.

Freeman Hunt said...

Any list that has Moleskine above Leuchtturm is wrong. (I don't bullet journal.) I like Moleskine fine, but Leuchtturm is like a higher end Moleskine. I once left a black Leuchtturm at the library, and the librarians were cooing over it when I returned.

Freeman Hunt said...

Number one is invalid because they're taking into account charitable donations. That's marketing for morons. If you want to donate to charity, do it. Why buy something so someone else can do it and take the deduction.

Freeman Hunt said...

For pens, I like the Pilot Hi-Tec-C, Le Pen, or, oddly, a particular medium fountain pen made for children.

Mitch Sondreaal said...

I obsess over notebooks like this list. I burn through them. I work as a furniture designer and I struggle over quick meetings, needing to sketch pieces at scale. This list is great. I've researched notebooks with schedules and calendars. This list was very helpful. Thank you Ann!

Mark Leavy said...

Quadrille 3x5 cards and a binder clip.

stlcdr said...

Molskine gridded for me. Fits in the top right pocket, with pens in the left pocket.