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The Best Notebooks for Putting Pen to Paper

For those of us who are active participants in today’s gig economy — where any coffee shop, library, or city park can be our office — our portable gear becomes our personal statement. That leather laptop sleeve is our substitute for a Herman Miller Aeron Chair;  a minimalistic electronic accessory bag, our Artemide desk lamp. Looking around at fellow coworking coworkers, the other must-have analog throwback is a classic notebook. Although a black hard-cover number with an elastic band is the go-to; you can now contribute to your personal space statement with expanding color options (“Let me see … that meeting happened in my blue period.”) and — especially strong right now — metallic finishes. Sustainability spreads its influence into this area, too, with great options for recycled and recyclable paper notebooks where you won’t have to sacrifice a forest for great style.

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Moleskine Year of the Rat Limited Edition

Moleskine Year of the Rat Limited Edition

We took a minute to catch up with Moleskine Chief Marketing Officer Roberto Lobetti. The 22-year-old company’s iconic notebooks seem much older than they are because they are based on diaries used by artists like Hemingway, Picasso, and Van Gogh. “This notebook is the natural heir to those,” says Lobetti. “It’s about connecting their creative journey to ours, and encouraging professionals to achieve their creative and productive potential. We think of our product as less of a ‘something,’ and more of a ‘someplace’ to let your ideas grow.”

This limited edition notebook celebrates the Year of the Rat. Although rats generally get a bad rap; the little beasty is the first sign of the Chinese lunar new year zodiac cycle, and represents the start of a new day. It’s also a sign of wealth and surplus, and those born under it are said to be optimistic and energetic. Sounds like a perfect combo for the start of a journaling practice. The notebook’s design features golden, decorative knots for good fortune, and includes two lucky red envelopes.

Field Notes Matching Metals

Field Notes Matching Metals

Part of the Field Notes quarterly limited edition series, this three-pack of minimalist white notebooks is decorated with the colors of precious metals, featuring metallic hot-foil stamped covers in copper, silver, and gold. The books feature gilded page edges and matching staples and ink; as well as a dot-grid pattern in the matching metallic ink. Choose to subscribe to Field Notes’ quarterly releases, and the brand will also include a handy triangular desk calendar, also printed in metallic ink on handsome black cover stock paper.

Field Notes National Parks

Field Notes National Parks

We’re sorry, but yeah, we had to geek out a bit over Field Notes’ many varieties, showing a second offering from the brand that celebrates the National Parks Service. There are four 3-packs, each pack featuring three different parks; from Yosemite to the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone … who can decide? They feature the work of a variety of artists, too, so it’s like having a portable art gallery of your own. Each features a brief history of the park, a place for the National Park Passport Stamp, and, best of all, five percent of the purchase price is donated to the NPS.

Poppin Gunmetal Soft Cover

Adding a heavy metal option to all your note-taking or journaling needs, the Poppin notebook comes in a wide range of colors, but we like these gunmetal, gold, or copper versions. The flexible, lightweight cover means it’s easy to carry, shove in a pocket, or toss into a bag. The notebook features the classic elastic loop to keep things together and a handy pocket to stash receipts or mementos.

Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover

Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover

Fans of the Bullet Journal method will recognize the Leuchtturm brand, a company founded in Germany in 1917. The fourth-generation family-run company is now well-known for applying it’s Teutonic precision to office supplies, and, along with accommodating your preference for ruled, grid, dotted, or plain pages, there are as many as 21 colors on offer. (We like this handsome Army green.) The thread-bound book opens flat, which is especially nice when referencing notes; and each features the de rigeur gusseted pocket and elastic closure; as well as stickers for labelling and archiving.

Pantone Color of the Year 2020 Classic Blue

Pantone Color of the Year 2020 Classic Blue

This year the internationally renowned color matching system declared Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue to be the color of the year for 2020. “Hinting at dependability, trustworthiness, and blue skies ahead. Suggestive of the sky at dusk … (the color) highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era,”or so goes the corporate press release. Hey, we’re always big fans of a great shade of blue, and with the clean, graphic design of this notebook, we’re tempted to color coordinate our whole year.

Rhodia R Color Premium Treasure Box

Rhodia R Color Premium Treasure Box

Not sure which notebook really works for you? Need a little one to tuck into a pocket for days when you’re out and about, but prefer something larger to use at your desk or for meetings? Rhodia has you covered. The Treasure Box, features one lined 3 1/4″ x 4 3/4″ pad, two lined 6″ x 8 1/4″ pads, and two matching Rhodia pencils; available in poppy, purple, sapphire, or turquoise. (Order orange if you’d prefer graph paper.)

Decomposition Book

Decomposition Book

Decomposition by Michael Roger features a range of cover art for all of its notebooks, sketchbooks, greeting cards, and tote bags … you’re sure to find one that suits your personal style. But most importantly, the books are all printed with soy ink on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper. Many feature a versatile spiral binding, but there are also sewn versions. Each purchase helps support an industry that saves thousands of acres of forests, so you’ll feel just fine if you realize all your brilliant note-taking … just belongs in the bin.

Tru Red Ruled Journal

Tru Red Ruled Journal

Another version of the iconic elastic closure band notebook, the Tru Red (available exclusively at Staples) offers a sturdy hard cover in purple, teal, or blue; with 96 sheets of narrow-ruled paper, and two page markers to keep track of notes. There’s a handy built-in card-holder, too; so just slip your business card in for easy identification.

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