The Perfect Notebook

reflections on the best possible journal

Shelf of notebooks
We are living in the golden age of notebooks. So many types, style, and pricing tiers.

In one of my previous posts, I briefly discussed my desire to create the perfect notebook, but I wanted to just spend a little bit more time to fully flesh out my thoughts on the perfect notebook.


Before I continue, let me say something so I won't get in trouble. This is all personal opinion. I really don't like saying saying this, but it needs to be said: My idea for a perfect notebook is personal opinion. I don't know why people get offended at a post about personal interests. For the most part, this ENTIRE blog is personal opinion. And if I do have an belief that is absolute whose infraction requires jailtime and a swift whipping, believe me, I'll tell you. (Maybe people mistake my enthusiasm with castigation.)

My questions about why others do what they do or buy what they buy is general curiosity, not an an abashment. If I like something and tell you why I like it, I'm not trying to force you or shame you into becoming an accolyte of my eccentric niche interests. My interests and discussions are a bubbling forth of enthusiasm.

If you like hardcover fountain pen friendly notebooks, great. Do ya thang! If your perfect notebook is smearing poop all over your aparment wall, all the power to you!

But for me, I like soft bound saddle stitch notebooks.

Gosh, hatemail from internet strangers are strange.

Qualities of a Perfect Notebook

Whew. Now that that's over, a good notebooks—for me, in my own personal opinion, after consulting with the Minerva (the greek god of wisdom, war, art, schools, and commerce)—serves three purposes: Catharsis, Cataloging, and Crafting. Additionally, a good notebook needs to be cheap.


When I think about ideas, they rattle in my head, and subconciously my mind continually rehashes the same thought over and over again because it doesn't want to forget. When I finally write it down, my mind magically just lets go of the thought because the thought is physically stored somewhere for future reference. It's hard to describe that feeling—it's as if breathing again after hold my breath for a long time.

Writing thoughts down makes them less terrifying and less complicated. There are many times when I am worried about some issue, but when I tell someone about it, when I actually vocalize the problem, it sounds well... silly and impuissant. Same thing with writing it down. When I fully flesh out the problem-even cumbersomely-this looming abstract conundrum turns into a solvable hindrance.


Small thoughts are the building blocks for larger thoughts.

Ooh! I like this saying. I'm going to frame it like an pinterest inspirational post.

I'm forgetful. However, a book won't forget. A post won't forget. It can only be lost or destroyed. That is why I write my thoughts down.


And pen on paper. The rough paper. The lightly sweet smell of the paper. A plush comfortable chair. Elegant lines of ink that loop, twist, and turn on pulp. In the morning with steaming tea or at night under a dim light. There is something real, intimate, and calming about the routine of writing.


In Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, she talks about whenshe buys expensive journals (and I'm paraphrasing), she feels like she needs to have expensive thoughts. This slows down her creativity because she feels as if she has to be extremely careful about what she writes.

Her solution is quite simple. She buys cheap notebooks so she can write cheap thoughts. She exhausts her thoughts until she has nothing left to say.

I agree with this. Buying an expensive notebook is counterproductive. If I wanted something polished and neatly worded, I'd buy a book. A notebook should be messy. Usually when I get a new notebook, I'd scribble all over the first page. This sobers my conciousness to take my writing less seriously.

Why Softbound Notebooks?

Well, I don't baby my notebooks. I throw them, bend them, rip pages out, spill coffee all over them. (Please don't treat your babies like I treat my notebooks.)

I just don't view my journaling scribbles as my magnus opus. They are just a first draft to much deeper thoughts.

That is why I like soft-bound staple-bound B5 notebooks. I can comfortably carry them around. They fit in my pants pocket and conform to the shape of my fat thighs.

I also frequently fold the pages of my notebook back. If I did this with a perfect bound notebook, the glued spine would crack, and the papers would fall out. Also, the design of a perfect bound notebook prevents the books from laying down flat resulting in loss of writing space.

Everything Else

Other than what was described above, the properties of a notebook depend on the situation. Size, paper material, cover material, and all that other stuff is dependent on the situation.

What do you think? What is your "perfect notebook"?

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