A few days ago, my friend Cath posted a photograph of a notebook on Twitter, with this caption: ”I know I’m not alone (I’m not, am I): just re-found this, which I bought at the Design Museum in January: it’s the MOST beautiful notebook I think I’ve ever seen…and I’m so terrified of ‘spoiling’ it that I’ve kept it in the bag it came in!”
Her next post included video of her turning the pages of this really rather wonderful notebook, intriguingly entitled Grids and Guides: a notebook for visual thinkers. It set me thinking: no, Cath, you’re not alone! I’ve always been ridiculously excited by stationery and I’m totally susceptible to a nice new notebook.
Writers have a particular ‘thing’ about notebooks, it seems. I often see posts on Twitter about writers and their notebooks. I recently attended a course at the National Centre for Writing where the joining notes included instructions to ‘bring a favourite notebook’. The writer Tom Cox’s next book is actually entitled Notebook! He encouraged people to tweet pictures of their current notebooks, and I responded with this picture.
It shows the three notebooks I am currently using. The dark green one with the coloured tabs is the one I am using for notes for my book. Each tab relates to a chapter, which I’m hoping will help me to keep my research notes in some kind of order! It’s made of vegan leather, by a company called Dingbats, and has an embossed deer on the front. The paper is lovely: thick, cream, and lined, and the endpapers have a funky print of deer hoofprints.
The brown one is by Clairefontaine, a French company which I’d not heard of before I was given this notebook. Its pages are cream and very smooth, a real pleasure to write on. It has numbered pages and a contents page, which is very useful as I use this to write down my ideas for various articles and projects, and it’s good to be able to see at a glance where they are, rather than spending ages flicking through the book. I used to be a Moleskine loyalist, but having tried Clairefontaine, I think I’ll be sourcing more of these in future.
This brings me to the black notebook – an extra large Moleskine soft cover with plain cream pages and a useful pocket in the back for cards and loose papers. This one is used for ‘professional’ notes – notes from training courses and books on professional and commercial aspects of writing for a living. Moleskine make nice large notebooks, and these soft cover ones stay flat and open when in use, which is great for making notes in meetings.
All three have elastic bands to keep them securely closed when not in use. The Dingbats one also has an elastic loop to hold a pen.
Ah – don’t get me started on pens. I adore pens. And coloured marker pens for planning and mind mapping. And fountain pens. And my latest passion, which is propelling pencils. I’ve always found them a bit scratchy, but I recently discovered a Pentel which has a 1.3mm lead (my previous one was 0.5mm) which makes a lovely soft, thick, dark mark and is comfortable for taking extended notes. I’m now using that pencil far more than pens, and am more than a little in love!
And then of course there are notepads, and sticky notes in all the colours of the rainbow and all sizes from postage stamp to A5, and staplers, and paperclips, and polypockets, and folders, and subject dividers, and ring binders, and box files (did you know they come in A5 as well as A4 sizes?!), and index cards (plain and lined, white and coloured, standard and large), and envelopes, and good old-fashioned letter paper, and laid paper and wove paper and handmade paper and mulberry paper and…
OK, OK, you get the idea. Let me loose in any stationers, or with an office supplies catalogue, and serious expenditure will result. My name is Lisa Tulfer and I am a stationery addict. I’m more restrained than I used to be, and I succumb to temptation less often – except when it comes to notebooks. Granted, they are a tool of my trade. This is how I justify buying them when I see them – I currently have an entire storage box full of notebooks waiting to be used. The last twice we’ve been away for a few days I have returned with a new notebook – a gloriously purple one (it’s my favourite colour – how could I resist?) from the gift shop at Tintern Abbey, and a monastic garden themed one from the English Heritage gift shop at Rievaulx Abbey. I have lined notebooks, plain notebooks, spiral bound notebooks, fabric covered notebooks. Every new project gets a notebook, so a good supply of attractive notebooks ensures a good supply of new projects!
So, to get back to Cath, I can assure her that she isn’t alone. Appreciation for a good notebook (and a tendency to buy them even if you haven’t a clue what you will use them for), is a ‘thing’ which many of us share. And in these difficult times, if we can find pleasure in a simple notebook, that seems like a good thing.
Cath runs the most wonderful gift shop and gallery called Ginger Fig. It’s in Bath Place, Taunton, Somerset, UK. You can contact her on Twitter @gingerfig, on Instagram @gingerfig and on her website.