All writers need notebooks. Even if you do the majority of your writing on the computer, you’ll want something physical to jot down your ideas. I find notebooks to be a fantastic way of qualifying an idea. It’s how I decide whether there is juice in it worth squeezing.
If you talk to 10 different writers and you’ll find 10 different ways of using a notebook. But what is the best notebook? Two brand comes to mind: Moleskine and Leuchtturm1917.
I’ve always wanted a really nice notebook, but I’ve never allowed myself to splurge on one — and I know a lot of you feel the same way. But then I thought, hey! I’m a writer. My expenses are pretty low (pen and paper, is really all I need), if I can afford it — and I feel like I’m going to use it all the way through, why shouldn’t I have a nice one.
So, if you have that thought as well, now you get to pick: Do I want a Moleskine or do I want a Leuchtturm1917? Well… I did splurge and I bought both of them and I want to share my experiences so far with you.
This is the Moleskine Classic Collection: Plain Notebook with 240 plain pages at 13 cm x 21 cm (or 5×8.25 inches). It cost $24 CAD retail price
Behind the label, it has this area for you to record your travels, so this notebook is clearly designed for someone traveling… although they didn’t market that on the front. It has one string bookmark and a foldable pocket in the back with a pamphlet that includes the history of Moleskine.
It feels nice in my hand and is pretty solid and sturdy. I’m sure it can take a beating in my bag and survive, but honestly, the texture of the cover is a little underwhelming. Perhaps I expected it to be a bit softer, but maybe that’s just me. It has the standard elastic band strap to keep the book closed and like I mentioned the pages are all blank, which as a writer with messy writing, it’s not super ideal.
When I open it, I find that the binding is a little tough. But I’m being knit-picky with that as the more I use it the more it’ll give. The paper, however, is a little thinner than I hoped for, but once again, I’m knit picky. Overall, it’s a pretty good looking notebook. $24, I don’t know.
This is the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook with 251 dotted pages, and here’s the bonus: the pages are numbered. It’s 14.5 cm x 21 cm, so it’s slightly bigger than the Moleskine. The retail price is also $24 CAD.
It also includes a lot of features including a table of contents, which I don’t think I’ll ever use because my notebooks are never organized in any logical way, as well as: 12 perforated sheets, 2 bookmark strings, stickers, and expandable pockets, much like the Moleskine.
Honestly, off the bat, I like the feel of this one a lot more. The cover does feel a bit softer which is what I like. However, I don’t necessarily want it to be bigger, but it is… The texture of the pages is less smooth than the Moleskine one so I can grip it and turn it a little bit easier. And the dots does help me write straight. I also feel that it folds open a bit better than the Moleskine one too, which is nice because I don’t have to break it in.
I’m very impressed by this Leuchtturm1917 notebook to be honest. I hear a lot of good stuff about Moleskine, but for writers, I think this one may be my go to from now on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s put these two books through the pen test.
I used 5 different types of pens on the book to see how each of them performs.
- Classic blue Bic ballpoint pen
- Papermate Ultra Fine felt pen
- Papermate erasable gel pen
- Energel metal point rollerball gel pen
- Pilot Kakuno fountain pen
Surprise: The Bic ballpoint pen wrote delightfully well on both notebooks. It’s almost surprising how well it performed. If you spend all your money on this notebook, you don’t have to worry about the pen.
Disappointment: The erasable gel pen was unpleasant to write with on both notebooks. Unless you are really worried about the condition of your notebook that you need to erase things instead of scratching them out like a chaotic good person like me, then go with another writing tool.
Best: The best writing experience is with the Energel metal point rollerball gel pen. It’s so smooth, it looked and felt like I was writing with the fountain pen, but without the mess that comes with the fountain pen.
However, with the pages, this is the ultimate test, the ghosting on the other side. If you plan on writing on both sides of your notebook, then this is important to know which holds the ink better.
Here is what it looks like on the Moleskine. As you can see, all the pens are visible, but the one that got through the most is the Energel metal point rollerball gel pen.
On the Leuchtturm1917, to me, performed a little bit better. The Energel metal point rollerball gel pen was still the one that got through the most. Overall, it’s just a little bit fainter than the Moleskine.
At $24 CAD each, these are two pricey notebooks. To me, it is clear that the Leuchtturm 1917 gives me much more value for the same price. I feel like Moleskine has a lot of clout, maybe because they have a brand name that is easier to say, I don’t know. But when I’m done using these two books and I was to get another one, I am certain I will get a Leuchtturm 1917 again.
As a writer, it’s everything I need and more. I’m really looking forward to filling it up with my dumb thoughts.
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