I’ve currently got 6 Moleskines and 4 Rhodia stapled A4 notebooks. I’ve got a few other notebooks that are lying around, including two teNeues Magneto Blanks, but I just tested them and they won’t be used for any note-taking. Why? The paper is pretty cheap and fountain pen ink tends to bleed a bit too much. Actually, it bleeds enough so that the writing is close to being illegible. The magnetic clasp is a really good idea, but it makes the notebook uneven. I prefer the simpler MS design that uses a paper of better quality. That’s what it all boils down to. That being said, if I find other manufacturers that make great notebooks, I’m always keen to try them out.
I don’t have a GTD system going in MS and honestly, I don’t plan on doing it⁴. The stuff that I have to do is pretty simple, and I don’t feel the need of using a system like that. Well, I kind of use Gmail as my to-do list. Anything that I’ve already taken care of is archived. I like using watercolors and they tend to work better on separate sheets than in a notebook. What other notebooks am I planning to get? I’ll probably get a Moleskine daily planner, as they are quite cheap, cheapest of all Moleskines. I’ll probably get a MD Paper plain paper notebook, a Rhodia №8 pad. I’ll get a few Rhodia pads as well. They are quite cheap here in Asia and that’s what they are known for.
What will I use them for? Well, I want one compact notebook to serve as a way for me to track my path in mathematics, an academic journal, with interesting theorems that I like and my own comments. This will provide and interesting academic narrative. I’m thinking about using the MD Paper notebook for that. I’ve got a Blueline notebook that I could use, but the paper isn’t of very good quality⁵.
One of the most important things that I learned when using journaling as a technique, it’s that it should never become a chore. It should always be something interesting to do. As I have used this technique on and off for some time, it’s never really become that, though I’d rather not stick to a fixed schedule. I’ve always written a lot, something like 1000-10,000 words a day, it depends on what exactly I’m doing. My job as a freelance blogger also requires me to do a lot of reading and scanning of blogs and posts.
Lastly, I need one for my story ideas. That one has been a long time coming. I’ve used one on and off for about 2 years, but I’d prefer to get another one that’s got good quality paper. Once again, I’ll stick to A5 size, or MS XL⁶.
№1 – Moleskine Reporter Plain Paper Pocket
This is a small notebook that I always carry around. I chose reporter over traditional style, since I find that reporter notebooks let you use the pages better, especially in this smaller format. I almost only buy plain paper notebooks now, since they are easier to sketch in. I also prefer unlined paper. For doing problems and exercises, I like ruled paper.
I use this notebook to jot down notes. It’s become a bit of an academic diary. I note down stuff during class. It’s easy to take out and start writing in it. The paper is of good enough quality and it forces you to write nicely. Having nice notebooks forces one to write nice. That’s one thing that I have noticed.
№2 – A6 Miquelrius Kukuxumusu
From the website, it looks like the design that I bought is out of print. Nevertheless, this 140-page little notebook is ideal for writing to-do lists and just getting organized. I don’t really use a dedicated weekly or daily planner, I just use this instead. I use this instead. It’s made in Spain and the funny cover makes everyone smile. The cover is mostly red. There is a cartoon little Red Riding Hood giving the Big Bad Wolf a kick in the gonads. It’s spiral-bound, with a hard cover, making it quite resistant.
The ends of the pages are color-coded, making it easy to organize stuff. Also, the pages can be easily torn out thanks to the tear-away feature. The right corner of the pages can also be torn off, just like an agenda. I kind of regret not buying some more before I left Canada. These would be really nice to do problems in⁷.
I bought this book early in 2009 when I had forgotten my typical small notebook in Taiwan⁸. I was in Canada and needed something to jot down stuff. Little things, like vocab lists for my classes and problems sets that I had to complete.
№3 – Moleskine Watercolor L
This is a neat little notebook that I use for inking and drawing stuff. They aren’t really sketches, but this high-quality paper works well. The size is big enough to be interesting, but not unmanageable².
№4 – A4 Moleskine Sketchbook
I bought this two weeks ago, but haven’t had time to start using this. It will be a journaling book. I want to use this often and add bits of color. I still can’t find a date stamp. I’ve gone to a few different places, but struck out each time.
These are the notebooks I use for my classes. I settled for the Rhodia notebooks, as they have 96 pages and the paper is quite nice¹, making them ideal for doing problems. I would have preferred spiral notebooks with more pages, but I couldn’t find any that I liked.
№5 – Moleskine Plain Paper XL Real Analysis class notes
№6 – Rhodia stapled A4 notebook Real Analysis exercise book
№7 – Moleskine Plain Paper XL Modern Algebra class notes
№8 – Rhodia stapled A4 notebook Modern Algebra exercise book
№9 – A4 Moleskine Plain Paper Complex Analysis class notes
№10 – Rhodia stapled A4 notebook Complex Analysis exercise book
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[²]: I got this one in 2008. I haven’t used it much, but I have started on a few nice ink pieces.
[³]: Yes, I know, using Moleskines for class can be a bit expensive, but I’ve used about 8 pages per class per notebook in five weeks, so I’m guessing that I’ll be able to use these notebooks for 2 or 3 years. That’s pretty amazing, since they have about 180 pages.
[⁴]: This isn’t quite true. I have a homegrown GTD system that works just fine. I use lists and deadlines and they work just fine. I don’t see the need of using something more elaborate.
[⁵]: I’m struggling with this, because the Blueline A91 would be perfect for this. I’ve already started using this last semester. However, it’s A4 sized, not A5. Still, I could start using it right away and I could easily use it for at least a year. It’s got 200 pages. Still, it would be strange, because my Rhodia exercise notebooks would have paper of a higher quality.
[⁶]: I don’t know why, but the A5 or MS XL size is really perfect for notes. I was brought up to believe in the 8½×11 format, but I don’t believe it’s that sacrosanct anymore. A5 is fine. I use MS XL in class almost everyday, and they are perfect for that task.
[⁷]: Here, I’m talking about the full-sized A4 variant, not the A6 size that I bought.
[⁸]: I salvaged a small A6-sized notebook from our apartment. It belonged to a previous owner and was only slightly used. The cover had Wonder Woman on it. It was quite slim, so it fit in bags easily. The Miquelrius is quite thick since it’s got 140 pages and hard cardboard covers.