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10 Best Journals & Notebooks According to a Full-time Writer

By Andrew Peloquin  |  Updated January 2, 2024

10 Best Journals & Notebooks According to a Full-time Writer

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over 10 years as a fantasy and sci-fi author, it’s that I always need a way to take notes wherever I go.

I’ve gotten inspiration for ideas for my novels in the middle of a surfing lesson, while hiking mountains, zipping down snowboarding slopes, kickboxing, even while driving down the highway.

I’ve gotten into the habit of always carrying at least two notebooks (one pocket-sized, one larger one in my everyday backpack) along with my phone and tablet so I am never without a way to jot down ideas.

Suffice it to say, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with finding the perfect journals and notebooks.


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
  • Journals provide blank space for creation. With a phone, I often have to wade through dozens of notifications or texts to get to the note-taking app. Sometimes, the idea is gone before I can write it down. With a journal, nothing gets in the way, and the blank page just begging to be filled helps me to keep coming up with more ideas beyond just the initial inspiration.
  • The more, the merrier. I never just have one journal. I need at least two—one in my coat, one by my bedside. Sometimes, I’ll have another in the kitchen (for taking notes when I’m cooking) and another in my car. I’ve learned I can never have too many ways to write down important notes or details at any time of day.
  • Versatility rocks. A notebook is a must-have, but I’ve found my favorite journals also feature a calendar, a list of contacts, and even a place for transaction details. Easier to keep track of everything I need all in the same neatly organized place.

I’ve torn through 20 or so journals (2 per year is pretty standard) over the last decade, and always take great pains when selecting my next victim—I mean, notebook—investing hours into research and testing.

The list I’ve put together for you below includes the very best journals and notebooks for those who need a way to jot down notes, ideas, and thoughts anytime, anywhere and prefer pen to paper over a screen for this task.

Best Overall

Moleskine Cahier Large Journal 3-Pack

Why did I choose it?

Tough, soft to the touch, filled with blank pages useful for both writing and drawing, this journal is the most versatile and reliable of any I’ve tested to date. Plus, it comes in a budget-friendly 3-pack.


Best Hardcover Notebook
LEUCHTTURM1917 Hardcover Notebook

Notebook with the Best Paper
Apica Premium C.D. Notebook

Best Bullet Journal
LEUCHTTURM1917 The Official Bullet Journal Edition 2

Best Dotted Journal
ANECDOTE Dotted Journal

Best Designed Journal
Shinola Medium Hard Linen Journal

Best Inexpensive Leather Notebook
C.R. Gibson Brown Bonded Leather Notebook


Best Overall

Moleskine Cahier Large Journal 3-Pack


$14
 

This journal has everything I need: a heavy-duty cardboard cover that can withstand my (admittedly rough) daily handling, a spine pocket for loose notes, a soft moleskin exterior, and blank pages I can use to take notes or sketch diagrams of my fantasy world. Available in sizes ranging from pocket to A4, it’s the versatile note-taking solution I recommend to anyone and everyone.





Best Hardcover Notebook

LEUCHTTURM1917 Hardcover Notebook


$30
 

There’s a lot to love about this LEUCHTTURM1917: its A5 size makes it nicely portable (perfect for my messenger bag), thread-bound binding for flat opening, 80g/m2 acid-free paper, compatibility with fountain pen ink, no bleed, an expandable back cover gusseted pocket for extra storage, a sturdy hard cover, numbered pages, easily detachable sheets, page markers and bookmarks, and an elastic band to keep it closed when I’m not using it.





Notebook with the Best Paper

Apica Premium C.D. Notebook


$13
 

Growing up in Japan, I remember the notebooks being of significantly higher quality than the cheaper ones I can find at my local Canadian supermarket or dollar store.

This notebook is proof of that—the A.Silky 865 Premium “Curious Metal” special paper feels luxurious and heavy-duty, and the thread-bound binding opens flat for easier writing.

This is the notebook I keep on my nightstand for taking notes and writing story details before bed.





Best Bullet Journal

LEUCHTTURM1917 The Official Bullet Journal Edition 2


$30
 

Keeping myself organized has been so much easier since I started using a bullet journal.

The interior layout of this excellent journal is beautiful but space-efficient, divided to perfection using a visually appealing grid.

The margins offer plenty of blank space so the contents aren’t too tightly packed, but it takes full advantage of every square inch of page space.

Bullet journalists (like me) will find this one a great solution to step up your note-taking game.





Best Dotted Journal

ANECDOTE Dotted Journal


$16
 

Simple, sturdy, and affordable—that’s what I love about the ANECDOTE Dotted Journal.

The 100 gsm paper can handle hard use (trust me, I’ve put it to the test!) and the hard cover will hold up on your daily commute or long-haul travel. With pages in both lined and dotted format, it’s easy to take notes and plot out your calendar in the same journal.





Best Designed Journal

Shinola Medium Hard Linen Journal


$28
 

Shinola offers an American-designed and American-made work of art in their Medium Hard Linen Journal.

The linen finish is soft to the touch but tough enough to hold up for years, and the smyth-sewn binding adds durability and easy access.

All the components are U.S.-sourced, including acid-free paper from sustainably managed American forests. It’s a lovely addition to your office desk or bedside table.





Best Inexpensive Leather Notebook

C.R. Gibson Brown Bonded Leather Notebook


$12
 

What could be more elegant than a leather-bound journal? The bonded leather is tough and glossy, and grows more beautiful with your daily handling.

The professional exterior makes it a journal you’ll be glad to show off at the office, the ideal work companion for keeping your calendar and taking notes in meetings.

With 240 ruled pages, you’ve got up to two years’ worth of writing space.






Montblanc Tobacco Lined #146 Fine Stationery


$59
 

MontBlanc delivers elegance and convenience with this notebook. The Saffiano leather exterior is gorgeous to begin with, but becomes even more lovely as it patinates over the years. The paper is high quality and beautifully easy to write on with pencil, ballpoint pen, or (if I’m feeling fancy) a fountain pen. I’m particularly fond of the silver gilded edges—it feels like I’m writing on truly high-end stationery.






Mind Journal


$49
 

Be more intentional with your journal-keeping using the Mind Journal. In addition to all the blank pages you can fill in, it comes with an Emotional Check-In Tool, 30 Life-Changing Exercises, 3 Months of Journaling guide, and 3 Stages of Self-Discovery.

It’s more than just a way to take notes—it’s a means of being more mindful and expressing your inner creator.






PAPERAGE Lined Journal


$10
 

Keep it affordable and reliable with the PAPERAGE Lined Journal. At 5.7 x 8 inches, it’s big enough to have plenty of note-taking space while still being small enough to throw into your sling bag or backpack.

Features include 160 college ruled lined pages, an elastic closure band, an expandable inner pocket, a ribbon bookmark, sticker labels, and it’s available in a wide range of color options.





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