35 luxury notebooks to organize your life

I’m a list keeper. I used to keep lists on stray pieces of paper around my office. Whatever was within reach would get a list on it — backs of envelopes, stray receipts, post-it notes. After I got the iPhone, my random paper list-making decreased significantly. The Notes application and I become fast friends.

However, I’ve once again found myself looking to good ol’ pen and paper to write down some of my ideas. Instead of turning to scraps of paper that will eventually clutter up my desk, I’ve decided to buy a notebook.

In my pursuit of finding the perfect notebook, I have discovered that there is a gigantic market of luxury notebooks out there. I honestly had no concept of how large it is. So, if you’re in the market for a good notebook to keep your ideas in one organized location, these are the brands to explore:

I made my decision about which to buy based on reviews I came across on a couple of notebook blogs. The blog Black Cover has pictures and reviews of some of the little black notebooks. And the website Notebook Stories has reviewed 19 different brands.

Are you a traditional notebook aficionado? Is there a brand or style that didn’t make my list? Please let us know about it in the comments!

55 Comments for “35 luxury notebooks to organize your life”

  1. posted by Melissa A. on

    I like notebooks, but tend not to buy them because I don’t really use them. Weird huh? I often make lists on scraps of paper and then just put it in my pocket/purse/notbook until I need it, then recycle it. I do however have a Moleskin style notebook, which is actually made by Deserres and sold next to the Moleskin at the Deserres shop. Much cheaper. Initially purchased as a travel log, but I tend to just use it to note important things and to store notes in.

  2. posted by Shalin on

    after 3-4 pen/paper journals, I would love to have an e-journal tablet if such a product (hardware or software) were available.

    I have a ~5×8″ moleskin now, my first. I felt like a real yuppie for buying it, but I do find it a quality made journal. I’d still be fine with a canvas covered hardback journal though, if I could find them. I rarely use the little pocket in the back flap, but it’s a nice little feature.

    The other thing I use is a 2.5×4″ pad/pen combo unit with a spring loaded metal cover – very pocketable and discreet.

    Best,
    Shalin

  3. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    This is a great list of notebook p0rn! I, too, like to keep my random notes together in some kind of notebook rather than on scattered sheets all over the place, and a nice notebook makes all the difference to get me motivated to do so. I’m looking forward to checking all these out.

  4. posted by Michaela on

    I adore Paperblanks, especially their calendars. You should definitely check them out.

  5. posted by Will on

    I use any number of nice, leather-bound notebooks from D’vyne Wrytes (http://dvynewrytes.com/). Their hard (‘traditional’) bound books are great for the purpose, if a bit large, and they’re beautiful to boot.

  6. posted by Loren on

    I have a wire bound 8.5′ x 11″ sketch book with plain unlined paper and plain black cover. I use it for everything from writing down directions to sketches for designs to taking notes in class. It is about twice as thick as a normal.
    I’ve gone through about 3 of them so far, they last me a year and a half or so. Don’t know if I’d use anything else.

  7. posted by Kate on

    I usually use cheap mini spiral notebooks for lists and stuff. That way, I don’t feel bad about tearing pages out once I’m done with them, plus I go through them so quickly and toss it around in my purse so much, I don’t feel the need for something fancy.

  8. posted by Beth on

    I don’t use notebooks much these days, but when I do, I love Clairefontaine. Lovely, smooth paper, but not so expensive or fancy I can’t rip out pages at will. There’s a variety of sizes and styles.

    I also like the Circa line of products from Levenger — also a good smooth paper, and the pages can be easily moved around.

  9. posted by Karolina on

    Also take a look at Levenger. Their Circa notebook has the huge advantage that you can re-order the pages.
    Disadvantage is that the circles make it harder to write if you’re left-handed (a bit like in a spiral-bound notebook).

  10. posted by Michele on

    I’ve been a fan of Clairefontaine notebooks for years and years. The paper takes fountain pen ink particularly well and is a dream to write on.

  11. posted by Kelly on

    I am a list maker, but tend to use scraps of paper or boring note pads. But for lovely notebooks, I like to search places like etsy for a number of reasons. For one, I love the idea of supporting an individual rather than a large company. And, as a fellow artist-of-sorts, I really appreciate the care put into a handmade notebook.

    Sharilyn at lovelydesign has beautiful notebooks. She includes touches of whimsy in them that I love, things like glassine envelopes bound into the notebook.
    http://www.lovelydesign.com/lo.....urney.html

  12. posted by kris on

    I can’t believe there are blogs just about notebooks and paper.
    [saying this with light humor and not to be mean to anyone]

  13. posted by Sarah on

    For the obsessive list-maker, Miquelrius (and Clairefontaine) make great notebooks that have colored sections. I find them extra useful to divide up to-do lists. Add a paperclip or tape flag on top to divide up the categories. Work, home and personal lists can all be in one notebook where you can add more to each list without having to skip pages or lose track of where each list is.

    For someone very picky too, I find that having one “luxury” notebook is less waste–it’s a lot harder to decide you “just don’t like” a notebook after a while when you paid $8 for it. I have stacks of “cheap” notebooks that I have done this with (likely spending way more than $8 total on those).

  14. posted by Shefaly on

    I am a fan of Magneto notebooks. When you finish writing in them, they shut with a finality and I feel confident that my little slips of paper somehow won’t slip out (they don’t). I buy teNeues in bulk. They aren’t too expensive either. I do however recall buying some pretty notebooks from Mai Do, a Japanese stationery store in Santana Row in San Jose, CA. But scarcity value means I am yet to use them (they were also frightfully expensive).

  15. posted by L. on

    I fell in love with journals from Michael Roger Press (http://www.mrogerpress.com/) when Borders used to sell them. The ones I bought weren’t beautiful but they functioned so perfectly. They had a simple brown (“kraft”) outside and a perfectly done ring binding (“double wire-o”) that allows you to position the pages any way you want, even “folding” the journal in “half”, if that makes any sense–rather than having to have it lie flat. You can also remove pages. The spacing of the lining on the pages is just right and the paper is heavy. I used to use these all the time for all sorts of random notes and they were so useful that I would keep and revisit them. They were much better than any electronic gizmo I ever had.

    Borders stopped carrying these a couple years ago and I just recently found out who made them. I’m planning on stocking up now! Turns out they also have some very pretty Florentine and other covers if that’s important to you.

  16. posted by Michel on

    The corrupiola notebooks seem nice: http://migre.me/WyV

  17. posted by infmom on

    I can’t believe Circa notebooks aren’t on that list. They are absolutely the most versatile notebooks EVER. Every size page is interchangeable with every other size page, so if I happen to scribble some notes in the 3 x 5 size I carry in my purse, I can just snap it right into my “desk size” idea notebook when I get home.

    They’re a little pricey, but the paper is top quality and Levengers is a great company to buy stuff from. :)

  18. posted by martha in mobile on

    I am also a big Circa fan. The “foldover” feature is a requirement for me, as is being able to take out pages and put them in a different place/notebook. I use the calendar pages, as well as smaller pages for my lists.

    You can save $$ by waiting for a sale at Levenger’s and combining that with one of their frequent coupons (get on the mailing list). Levenger’s has great customer service, too.

  19. posted by chris on

    I’m a HUGE fan of the tabbed Moleskeine Info Book with a back pocket.

    I created my own categories, using sticky-labels to cover the five preassigned tabs. Mine are: To Do; To Buy; To Plan; Research; and Remember. The little pocket is great for tucking business cards, my eyeglass prescription, etc. Also of course, the stray bits of paper I jot down notes and lists on.

    Sample items in To Do are “convert website to css pseudo-frameset” and “renew passport.”

    To Buy: “laundry detergent”; “birthday gift for Elena.”

    To Plan: “Godfather Trilogy/pasta night with C” and “June trip to California.”

    Research includes items like “accordion lessons/prices” or “selling online prints at imagekind” or “replacing cellphone early.”

    Remember includes book/music/etc. recommendations: “House of Muse,” William Elliot Whitmore,” “varieties of disturbances,” etc. It’s useful for when I’m reading a magazine that cites a website I plan to visit and I’m not near a computer.

    I find these categories extremely useful. And the small size is convenient, too.

  20. posted by Noel on

    I like Graphic Image’s products:
    http://www.graphicimage.com/

  21. posted by allen on

    MOLESKIN!!!

    they’re sturdy, they last, and my GOD can they take a beating!

    For lists, i prefer the Graph paper ones, as it lets me line up my lists easier (sub lists for chores/errands, &c)

  22. posted by Andrew Twigg on

    Alife Design makes some nice ones that are refillable. Target carried them for a limited time; you can now find them online at a few vendors:
    http://alifedesign.com/

  23. posted by Karen on

    I’m a fan of the Clairefontaine spiral-bound notebooks with graph paper pages. I have them in multiple sizes and keep lists, notes from online classes, etc. in them. They hold up really well, and don’t weigh much if I wan to carry one with me. Each section is a different color and the sections are tabbed so I can easily find what I’m looking for. For my To Do lists I’ve been using the “To Do” pad from Knock-Knock for several years. It’s divided into four sections and helps me keep the different parts of my life organized.

  24. posted by Wes Perdue on

    Another vote for the Levenger Circa. I have my little 3×5 notebook with me at all times; pages move from it to the larger notebooks as necessary.

    They are infinitely customizable, and a joy to use. The paper is beautiful. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the holy grail of notebooks.

    BTW, I’m left-handed; since the pages are easily removed and replaced, I just keep them full; I never have a problem with the rings and my left hand.

  25. posted by LBell on

    *claps cyberhands over cybereyes*

    Not looking at this! Not looking at this! la la la la la

    lol…I am SUCH a sucker for these. I’ve got a bunch of Miquelrius, and when I went to graduate school, I was gifted a couple of Moleskines. I also used to have several spiral notebooks by Michael Roger Press:

    http://www.mrogerpress.com/

    These were great because they had really good quality paper that held ink well. Plus there were a lot of lines on the page, which I prefer; “college ruled” has fewer lines than when I was in college. Sign of the times, perhaps?

    Lately I’ve been carrying a Franklin Quest 5×7 pigskin spiral notebook that I purchased and had monogrammed way back in my aspiring-CEO days (early 90s). I may have to make my own refills for this thing.

  26. posted by knitwych on

    (whimper) Notebook p o r n !! Want…all…of…them…. Must…resist!

  27. posted by Erick on

    Why is this on unclutterer? How about recommending we use ordinary notebooks we already have rather than tempting people to buy new things to quell fancy notebook fetishes? A fancy notebook is perfect for a unitasker article.

  28. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Erick — I’m in the mood for making a list (get it, the post is about list making … oh, I’m such a dork …)

    1. This is not an anti-consumer website. An unclutterer follows smart consumer practices. If you are looking for a website that supports freeganism, then consider adding http://freegan.info/ to your RSS feed.

    2. An unclutterer also believes in buying quality over quantity. If you are going to use a notebook, you might as well get a notebook that will last throughout the whole of its needed life. In my experience, luxury notebooks can take quite a heavy beating from daily use.

    3. An object is not a unitasker if it has high utility. Not only is a notebook highly functional (if you use it), but a very organized solution.

    4. I agree that if you already have a notebook, that you should use it. However, if you don’t, then I recommend checking these out because they are inspiring, well made, and durable.

  29. posted by Jan D - Fibrowitch on

    Well since a note book is a stack of paper held together.

    I go to the local dollar store and pick up their cute Miss Elizabeth sets. A 75 page chip board covered note book with an elastic band attached to the cover is a dollar. The matching spiral bound notebook – a dollar. The matching refrigerator notebook, also a dollar.

    The matching paper so that my calling card matches my note book, my desk book each and every one of them costs a dollar.

    I get a years worth of notebooks for less than even one of those notebooks.

  30. posted by anonymous on

    Tiny. Cheap. Customizable.

    You use one piece of 8.5 by 11 inch paper and then drag & drop the “mods”.

    Hit the print button. Follow cutting and folding directions. Voila!

    (No, I don’t have any connection to the genius that thought of it. I discovered the application several years ago. I just think it’s brilliant.)

    http://www.pocketmod.com

  31. posted by anonymous on

    The “Original” Pocket Mod is the simpler version and is what I use.

    It can be accessed by going to http://www.pocketmod.com/app

  32. posted by Ape on

    I cannot understand why Whitelines hasn´t been commented here. They have the smoothiest lines and firm paper ever. I am an addict – prefer the hard ones. Beautiful covers as well and carbon neutral and and…

  33. posted by Kate on

    I’m a Circa user, but I’m also a recovering “little scraps of paper” person, and for that, the Levenger pocket briefcase is the best thing ever. It holds 3×5 cards (i.e., index cards) on a hard writing surface and has little pockets to hold clean and used ones. It’s great for shopping lists or anything where you have to parcel out tasks to different people (just put one on each card and hand them out).

    I also like http://www.diyplanner.com for people who don’t like the pre-built templates for things. (They have more than calendars, it’s pretty cool.)

  34. posted by doane on

    Erin thank you for including Doane Paper Utility Notebooks on your list, very much appreciated!

  35. posted by Michael on

    I just have to wonder what you people are doing with your Moleskines that a $1 notebook couldn’t survive.

  36. posted by knitwych on

    In response to Michael’s post: I just have to wonder what you people are doing with your Moleskines that a $1 notebook couldn’t survive.

    I can’t speak for everyone else here, but my use of higher priced notebooks is partly work-related. I write for a newspaper and I write freelance articles as well as fiction. I carry a notebook as (well as a small digital recorder for times when writing isn’t feasible) pretty much everywhere I go. I use cheap spiral bound notebooks (10 cents each during back-to-school sales) to keep at my desk, where I jot down notes on everything I deal with at my desk (thus effectively overcoming my sticky note addiction, and cutting down on a lot of desk/office clutter).

    I’ve tried using cheap notebooks for field interviews, and they are more hassle than they’re worth. They have a tendency to disintegrate. My field notebooks have been exposed or subjected to rain, mud, overzealous little children, foods ranging from Brunswick stew to BBQ to spaghetti, sloshed wine (spilled on me while I was getting quotes during a posh fund-raiser), water from firefighter exercises, and curious animals including but not limited to llamas, wallabies, horses, caimans (baby ones, but still – hello – subfamily of the Alligatoridae; toothy little guys!), dogs, parrots, and ferrets. Oh, and a notebook and I were once snotted on by a lion. Your average buck-a-pop notebook is not going to last long in my job, because when I’m not exposing it to situations that would make most notebooks run screaming into the night, it is knocking around in my purse – which is a whole new level of abuse.

    I keep my notes, so I need them to be accessible and legible. Thus, my carry-out notebooks are sturdy. I haven’t got sucked into the Moleskine vortex yet, and while I drool over luxury notebooks such as the ones listed here, I stick with the Markings notebooks. They’re sturdy, professional-looking, the paper is good quality, and they are easy to write in.

  37. posted by links for 2009-05-06 at So It’s Come To This: on

    [...] 35 luxury notebooks to organize your life (tags: stuff notes paper organization) [...]

  38. posted by tanny on

    I personally love Myndology…i also love notebooks made up of recycled or handmade paper…

  39. posted by MrCichy on

    They are so beautiful…but also (as far as I’m concerned – for example Moleskine) quite expensive (when compared to ordinary notebooks). I use normal, cheap notebook (but in hard cover), I did bookmark on my own (a piece of cotton and some glue) and it works! It has A5 format, so maybe next time I will use a little bit smaller notebook. But I don’t have to pay a lot and I can write down my ideas any time I want:)

  40. posted by Welcome, Unclutterer Readers! | Notebook Stories on

    [...] and clutter are pretty much inseparable, but that’s all the more reason to check out The Unclutterer’s list of 35 Luxury Notebook brands. They even mentioned a few I hadn’t heard of… time to go shopping again! And as long as [...]

  41. posted by Tara Leporini on

    I take the letter size paper that I printed on one side and no longer need to make a cool little notebooks. If you cut about 20-26 sheets, wrap the now 1/2 size sheets with decorative scrapbook paper, you have a nice notebook that fits easily in you bag. From a segment on the Martha Stewart Show. For details on how to do this project, http://www.marthastewart.com/p.....=notebooks

  42. posted by Bruce Garlock on

    How did Levenger not make the list? I’m a huge Circa fan, and coupled with the Levenger Bomber Jacket leather, there is not a more pleasant, and inspiring notebook out there. Levenger paper is also top quality (and pricey). Levenger has an outlet store on Ebay. Often I will pick up paper refills or pads from there, or stock up when they have their bi-annual buy one, get one free sale.

    Plus, Levenger has virtually a free way of trying out their Circa system; you purchase the “Circa Simply Irresistible Sampling Kit” ($40) http://bit.ly/NhAM4 and it comes with a $40 Levenger gift card. Highly recommended!

  43. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Bruce — Levenger’s Circa didn’t make the list because I have problems with non-bound books. When I briefly had a Circa, I constantly lost rings. I’d stuff it in my briefcase with my shoes, laptop, cables, and whatever else I needed, and when I’d pull it out of my bag, it would always be missing one or two rings. They would get caught between two objects and come off. After a week of losing rings, I gave up. I gave the system to a friend who was a lighter notebook user.

    It’s a perfect system for people who don’t move the notebook around a great deal (like to only use on a desk) or who have a pocket in their laptop bag for only the Circa notebook. I’m not one of those people. I even like to put notebooks in my back jeans pockets (Field Notes, Moleskines, and a few others are perfect for this).

    I know they work for a lot of people, they just don’t meet my needs.

  44. posted by Dianne on

    My use of notebooks, note pads, and such depends on what notes are being kept and whether or not they need to retained or not.

    My daily “to do” lists are printed from the computer and my schedule is printed at the same time; I punch holes in the page to fit into my day-planner and I am off and running. The reverside of those two half sheets can be used for notes during the day pertaining to what was needed to follow-up or for further details. I return to the computer with those notes and enter them where necessary to update due dates, details, etc. I then archive those pages for tax purposes when I change out the quarterly calendar pages.

    If I am working at my computer and need to make a note to myself, I simply use a jotter type pad. To keep things from overrunning the notepaper, I make it a rule to not have more than three incomplete items on those notepapers. When done, I can flip the sheet over and keep going.

    For personal journaling, I love using moleskin covered journals. These are things that I have been using since I became old enough to use any kind of diary. I keep them in an old footlocker that doubles as a bench at the foot of my bed.

    I like the convenience of a day-planner notebook that uses seven rings. Most paper planner companies have pages that will fit into the binders, so I have no problem getting updates for calendars or stock pages. I also keep a supply of lined and graph lined notepads that fit into the binders.

    After 40+ years in the working world, I have found that there is no “one size fits all” solution to how each of us handles things. I have been using paper-based planners since I found Filofax and then Day-Timer.

    My PC bag has enough room in it for all of the computer accessories I take with me and room for the planner, plus other travel items. Instead of carrying a purse, I use the PC bag and or a large tote bag.

  45. posted by chinesealbumart on

    I am such a fan of my Moleskin but for my Hong Kong trip, I bought a cheaper brand known as Monologue and used it for my trip’s notes and maps. I Love It !!

    http://patnotebook.blogspot.co.....logue.html

  46. posted by Viv on

    Moleskin for my purse and quick notes.

    On my desk, though, I just use one of those cheap bound book (8 x 5) that come in various gift packs. I write everything down, with pages dated from time to time, and then can flip back to find info that wasn’t important enough at the time to be entered somewhere else.

  47. posted by LaVidaMD on

    I would like to add another vote for Paperblanks.

    Truth be known, I use a PocketMod most of the time.

  48. posted by ga on

    Levenger makes such nice paper—why don’t they make a perfectly plain white sheet? ( I guess I should ask them.) An excellent substitute, and free, is color-printer paper; before I got laid off, the trash can next to the color printer was a major resource. There were always spoiled print runs with unused white space. I cut them to suitable sizes.

  49. posted by Mookxi on

    Ahh wonderful list. I must check some of these out !

    Personally, I love using Japanese-make notebooks. Maruman, Apica & Campus ! They’re great quality, light, compact, and not too pricey.

  50. posted by Chung Nguyen on

    I have found my perfect combination to be the new Volant Moleskine (which fits perfectly on top of my card case wallet) and the spiral-bound Clairefontaine with square grid paper.

    I usually carry them both with me but if I need to go ultra-mobile I just take the Volant, mobile phone and wallet (Flickr pictures available for anyone interested: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cnlifeasitis)

  51. posted by Cheryl on

    Rollbahn!

  52. posted by Gabriel Sandberg on

    The Swedish makers Rationella Media makes good quality notebooks. They have several series, e.g. the Nostalgia series which is similar to Moleskine, though of slightly better quality. Swedish paper, partly hand made. This is the 05647102 NOTEBOOK NOSTALGIA P. SQUARED:

    http://www.rationellamedia.se/.....647102.jpg

    Don’t be let down by the fact that their English website sucks. The pictures are sometimes very bad. Main page:

    http://www.rationellamedia.se

  53. posted by Paolina on

    I just recently fell in love with KIT by Russel+Hazel avaliable at Target. There are little binders that your customize to your needs, and there are affordable. A little luxury for a nice little number.

  54. posted by Maureen on

    I loved the moleskins till I meet the large soft cover Piccadilly note books, which I use to journal in but I love/adore the Bluenote hard cover 192 page notebooks, I use this for all planning and it works beautifully as it has tabs and an index area in front.

  55. posted by Maureen on

    Opp, it’s Blueline not Bluenote, can you tell it’s past my bedtime!

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