Moon Memorandum 01: Notebooks to Adore & Destroy
While delirious with a truly evil stomach bug I decided to start a research project: A hierarchy of the blank journals I consider to be perfect in their varying forms and uses.
I like to have two notebooks going at all times. One short term — a keeper of day-to-day tasks, project or call notes, miscellaneous lists. The second holds a longer view — a place to jot “ideas” of all grandiosity; higher level reflection; things to remember; responses to Moon Lists prompts.
And while neither of these notebooks is particularly precious in form, the first is a beater, meant to go with me, to serve the present.
This list exclusively encompasses Notebooks Meant to be Adored & Destroyed™— assessed, collected, ranked, and approved by someone who is hyper-particular about…everything.
The criteria for selection:
• Size: A5 (5.8 x 8.2 inches) or B5 (composition-size, approx. 7.5 x 10 inches) only. I personally find B6/A6 or anything pocket-sized to be too small. Here is a guide to sizes should you be interested.
• Accessibility: Easy enough to obtain (ie: no ordering third-party through a German wholesaler with mysterious custom fees and minimum order of 50 books.)
• Price: Thrifty girls only. For this specific use, I think they must be under $25/each. (Thoughts on opulent notebooks coming in part 2).
• Binding: No spiral bound. No legal pads or reporter’s notebooks. (I hold the utmost respect for anyone who writes exclusively in a legal pad—very cool—yet for the purpose of this list I have to draw the line somewhere.)
My preference is always perfect binding, or anything that lays flat with ease. I personally do not like hardcover journals and have omitted most from this list because I find them a bit rigid and challenging to use.
• Design: No embellishments, velvet covers, or tiny pockets for holding individual paper clips. Solid colored covers only, in a neutral or organic palette.
• Page Count: I suggest the ideal length of a notebook to be about 175 pages or less. Maybe it’s psychology (the forever allure of beginning a fresh, empty, new journal) but if a notebook has too many pages I tend to lose interest in it.
• Paper: My preference is blank, options below include lined and gridded. No bullet journal, ever.
• Vibe: Arguably the most important category. In my mind, you go classic Americana, you go Japanese, or you go generational Italian/French/British. And that’s it, folks. In other words, there are one billion notebooks out there and why buy something that feels like a low-calorie version of something timeless? Friends don’t let friends buy a notebook made to target millennials with aesthetically bland-yet-pleasing packaging; subliminally underwritten pro-productivity subtext; et al. It’s just corny and I wouldn’t do that to you.
The viable contenders encompass 5 categories: