Notebooks, Anyone?

Whenever I start a new novel, I buy myself a fancy notebook. Then, I spend the next month filling in the pages with notes about character, setting, scenes, and so on. If I can do that, then I feel like I have enough to start writing a novel and that’s when I open a document on my computer. But for now, the big question is, which notebook to buy! Here are some choices.

Some Notebook possibilities:

  1. The Limoni Freschi (Fresh Lemons) Soft Italian Leather Journal (pictured above). I can actually smell the lemons! I found this one on Etsy. It’s printed and hand-assembled in Italy and costs $49.95. I especially like the drawings on the edges. It has 384 pages, which is a lot, and it lies flat. Which is important.

2. Vintage Bookshelf Notebook from the New York Public Library Shop. This one feels like it would be inspirational. Who wouldn’t want to imagine their own book featured on this cover. This one has 144-lined pages and is $15.00.

3. Moleskine Smart Notebook This is a truly impressive notebook that makes your hand-written notes appear instantly on your computer screen. (Don’t ask me how it works, but it looks amazing.) The system itself is $279, but every notebook you buy is $27.95.

4. Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre notebook. Nothing like a quote from Jane Eyre to get you in a good writing space. This 80-page notebook comes from Fly Paper Products and is one of several literary themed notebooks they hand-make in Ann Arbor.

5. Italian Leather Hand-Tooled journal. This looks appropriate to me for anyone embarking on a VERY SERIOUS project. Perhaps War and Peace Part 2. It’s $133.76 and is suitable for writing on with a fountain pen! (And other pens as well.)

6. Book of Hours Notebook. This is the notebook I wound up choosing. It comes from Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (although the novel itself has nothing to do with Anne Boleyn. But it does feature a strong woman.) I received it as a gift from the great historian Alison Weir and I thought a little of her brilliance might rub off on me.

How about you? Do you have a favorite notebook? Please post a picture. We’d love to see it.

Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The MWA anthology, Crime Hits Home, in which she has a story, just won an Anthony Award. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Write to Pitch Conference.


  1. I love notebooks and over the years have bought and written in many, all of which I still have.

    But now that I’m trying to declutter my life and the room Sherry and I use as an office, I wonder what to do with all the half or completely full notebooks with random notes and thoughts. They’re not of value to anyone but me. Yet I can’t bring myself to throw them out. Yet.

  2. I love notebooks and I have about a zillion really nice ones. The problem is that I can’t bring myself to write in them because they’re so nice. So I always end up writing in a cheap spiral bound notebook from staples like I’m still taking notes in high school.

  3. Notebooks! Did someone say notebooks? Now that’s my idea of shopping. I can’t get enough of them. I have at least one in my purse (tiny), on my bedside table, in my tote, and the ever-present daily to-do notebook, often a Leuchtturm in a vivid color so i can easily find it. Most if mine come from a local stationery shop in Truro (Jules Besch) where i am honored to be Writer in Residence. Susan, thanks for sharing your sources for your finds.

  4. I love notebooks! The one I’m using now has a nice spiral edge with Alice in Wonderland characters on it. I use a fresh notebook for each project, too, cart it around with me all over in my research phase and on.
    I’m loving the Limoni one…

  5. What a terrific idea, Susan. It reminds me of the thrill I had every year, buying school supplies. I may adopt your method as I’m planning two different books at the moment. The Moleskine system is intriguing. Will check it out.

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