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Noteworthy notebooks

I have a great love for stationery. Specifically, notebooks and pens, and I rarely go anywhere without my scribble-kit close to hand.

Electronic devices are incredibly useful but writing by hand seems a much more intentional experience. We think faster than we can write, and without spell-checker and editing prompts, we’re forced to slow down, maybe choose our words more carefully.

I like nothing better than to sit in a quiet café corner, with a coffee and my scribble-kit, thoughts and actions interspersed with elements of people watching.  

Apart from the obvious uses of note-taking, journaling, ‘to-do lists’ and story-writing, notebooks can serve a myriad useful purposes including paperweights, door wedges, and height-adjusters for keyboards.

My collection includes favoured A5 canvas-covered books with retro designs relating to cocktail parties, skiing and sailing; hardcovers with soft-touch velvety surfaces, fine pages, and pocket inserts; and glossy outers with suggestions of exotic places to travel with your notebook – Indonesia, Jamaica, Havana.

Often they arrive as gifts – a pocket-sized raw silk cover with recycled wood-chip paper, or 3D embossed elephants, proudly exclaiming the pages contain real elephant dung.

These are fun novelties, but they won’t make it to the ‘choose me’ category when next a notebook need arises.

I love the sensation of starting a new notebook, writing on the first clean, crisp page, and the prospect of where the journey will take me this time.

But I don’t put my notebooks on a pedestal – they must be everyday useable.

Pages get filled with neat handwriting, scribble, crossings-out, doodles, hand-drawn lines, lists and more lists, and occasional glue-stick snippets.  

Lived-in and treasured, they have served their best purpose when well-used, dog-eared and enjoyed.

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.

Jack London