Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Journals: Fashion or Function?

Grande Red Ciak Journal

Throughout my journey to fine the perfect journal, I've found that there seem to be two distinctive types of manufactures. One leans towards creating fashionable product and not necessarily emphasizing on paper quality, and the other is all about the paper. (Clairefontaine seems to be the exception. They do make some cool fashionable product combined with some of the best quality writing paper around.)

I prefer function over fashion in a journal. I am a writer, and I want every moment that I am putting pen to paper to be the ultimate in pleasurable writing experiences. Sometimes thoughts are hard to come by, or difficult to express. Do you want to be using a scratchy pen that skips, paper that's rough- in a book that doesn't open flat on your desk? I know I don't. I know a lot of people with bad handwriting, or those who say they don't like to write and I wonder if someone would just hand them a smooth writing pen and quality paper how much it would improve the situation.

If you've looked through any of my reviews, you will notice that most of the books are quite plain in color and design. I like that. Black or red covers are fine for me - beyond that, I couldn't care less. The only aesthetics I care about are functional. Rounded pages for comfort when moving the hand to the bottom of the page as I write. A nice hard cover so I can write with the book propped on my knee anywhere, at anytime. Paper that readily accepts fountain pen inks without bleeding or feathering... That's what I look for in a journal.

How about you?


Anonymous said...

I never thought about the rounded corners until I started writing in my moleskine agenda. You're right, running the hand down over the corner with a square one does hurt.

The most that I care about with my journals is number of pages, and whether or not it's blank. I'm finding that I would much rather write in a sketchbook than a "journal" cause i've really taken to doodling when I can't think of something to say. And drawing over lines really burns my biscuits.

So buying journals at bookstores is virtually useless to me, since they never seem to carry thick enough books. I don't tend to get "bored" with a thicker book, since i can be so creative inside it. I've got a vinyl skull sticker on the outside of my moley right now. (but it's white)

So, in a roundabout way, that's what i look for in my books. Blank pages and loads of 'em.


thethirdrat said...

I think it's a bit of both. In the same way that your shoes, your hair or for that matter your fountain pen can say something about you I think your journal does as well.

Having said that, if it's not perfectly functional the form is pointless. I'm greedy so I want it all. I love my Rhodia Webnotebook. It's orange and so looks fantastic with Noodlers Walnut ink and would you believe the colours work perfectly with my chocolate and orange leather Crumpler 'Ugly Divorce' (if the wife finds out how much it was there'll be an ugly divorce) laptop bag.

Interestingly these are colours that in Europe (especially France) are seen as luxurious but I'm not sure about elsewhere in the world.

So I think form without fashion (or at least some kind of aesthetic appeal) is ok. But if you can take pleasure in the object itself so much the better.

Even a plain black Moley say's something about you. And be honest - you like using it.

aneer said...

function. I'm currently using a stack of used index cards for to-do lists, and I'm finding more and more that I HATE the moleskine-style notebook that I've got as a journal right now. I feel like I can't scribble in it, or put reminder notes to myself in it like I did with my leather-look comp book.
So I tend to not care what it does, just that it does it, and does it cheaply and well.

Ontheroad said...

Both. I wouldn't mind having some journals that looked like this:

With paper that takes all medium, including ink.

Ann said...

This may sound strange, but I look for a "connection" with my journals. I've accumulated a lot of unused journals as a result - they never seem quite "right" somehow.

Aside from that - they must be blank, off white in color, good sized so I don't feel cramped and easy to carry around. I've fallen in love with Midori Traveler's Journal - recently I took it on a trip and I marveled at how passports, boarding passes, maps, etc etc all fits nicely in it. Oh, and it takes fountain pen inks just fine.

nrepose said...

I lean towards function, but style is nice. That is why I love the Canteo line. They have such a wonderful style and the page markers and paper are great. I don't think anyone likes to get a notebook that looks nice but the paper is horrible. I also think that many people get a nice journal or notebook and are afraid to write in it because they might have paid a lot for it. I had to get over this myself. Scribbling and writing anything you need to in a notebook makes it even more special. Nr

Pyzahn said...

My affliction is more in line with keeping my life on track. But I share similarities in the search of the perfect tool. You can see my pursuit titled "A new day(timer)" on my

Anonymous said...

I've pondered some of the same things recently because my experiences have not lined up with many of the things I've read around the interweb. Currently I'm having tremendous success using an inexpensive Sheaffer "school pen" from the early 90's with plain old Sheaffer blue-black carts in a small lined Piccadilly notebook. According to the "experts" this pen and ink combo shouldn't write buttery smooth and and the pages shouldn't grab the ink quickly and hold it fast but that is what's happening. I can't help but wonder how much of our preception is real and how much is tainted by the machine. I suppose that's why I keep coming here; I get the facts without the bias and pictures to back them up. For that I thank you.


Lily said...

I go both ways. I wouldn't sacrifice fashion for pure function, but I also wouldn't sacrifice function for pure fashion- in general. Nothing irritates me more than a beautiful journal that won't lay flat, or has pages that bleed ink- even pencil! I look for size, too; I once bought a huge tome of a journal from Barnes and Noble that I ended up never using as it was just so impossible to keep flat on account of its size.

lucentstreak said...

I value function above fashion but then again, I tend to lean closer to the minimalist fashion. Recently, I even went into getting the local disabled society to help me bind a set of 10 notebooks with size and specs taken from the Moleskine notebook but with different paper and some personal modifications.

hugin said...

I find myself unfortunately addicted to Moleskines. I feel they fall into the fashion category, and hence the "unfortunately"; I find them great functionally except for the shoddy paper. They lie just as flat as I'd like, they have solid enough covers that don't feel too bulky, they are a great shape and size (well, the large ones), have rounded corners, and, best of all, they are completely plain black. Unfortunately the paper is unpredictable at best and unusable at worst. Luckily (for me), some of your journal reviews are quite inspiring. :)

Biffybeans said...

Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond to this post! I'm happy to hear all the different motivations behind picking a particular journal.

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