Every year Moleskine comes up with new designs for its planners, and 2020 was no different. On the one hand, it’s great that every year there’s something fresh, on the other hand, if you happened to really love one of their previous designs you are going to be disappointed.
I was planning on being disappointed.
For the past three years I’ve been using the Moleskine pocket weekly notebook to get an idea of how my week looks like (I also use Fantastical as my digital calendar/reminders app), and every year I’ve bought the latest limited edition. Last year’s denim edition was so beautiful and popular I had some hope that it would return in some version or other this year.
So when Moleskine came out with Star Wars themed limited edition planners, I was slightly disappointed, I admit. That disappointment faded away when the new planner arrived.
The design of the cover of this planner is phenomenal. The colour choice, the overlay, the way that it looks like someone stamped or screen printed the design – very ’70s retro, and really well done.
Moleskine’s choice of elastic band colour and the quote on the cover are also great. A red band would have been too much, I think, and the quote is inspirational and makes me smile.
The branding on the back is subtle. It’s a Star Wars planner before it’s a Moleskine planner.
Continuing the retro vibe, the front and back endpapers are excellent (although the stickers do stick out, somewhat ruining the effect.
The sticker page itself is cool, but not really planner themed.
The planner itself is in the usual pocket weekly format, with a ton of pages for your information, monthly and yearly planning calendars, and general information (maps, international holidays, etc). Then the actual planner, which is a week on one page, with a notes page opposite it. The paper is thin, which makes the planner thin and light, but there’s going to be show through with everything, and it’s not fountain pen or rollerball friendly. Gel ink, ballpoint and pencil are what works best with it.
There’s not a lot of writing space for each day, but after trying several other formats over the years, this is the one that works for me. It’s just enough to give me a feel for what the week is like, without tempting me to dump everything from my calendar and to-do list on the thing. Only what must go in the planner (appointments, running meets, races, trips, meetings with friends and other events that don’t generally move) gets written down, and so I have a way of seeing exactly how much time I have for various projects during the week. It’s a way for me to make fluid time more concrete and managed.
As usual, there’s a cool B-side to the paper slip around the cover, and this one shows how to make an origami X-Wing.
From previous years’ experience these little notebooks can take a beating, and even though the cover on this planner is white, I expect nothing less from it. If you’re looking for a weekly planner that is lightweight, durable, and well designed, the Moleskine Star Wars 2020 Weekly Planner is worth checking out.
Say hello to the limited edition, numbered Lord of the Rings Moleskine box:
Bold and beautiful, right? This box is new to the 2019 edition of the LotR limited edition Moleksines (reviewed here and here), not to be confused with the more muted LotR limited edition notebooks that Moleskine published back in 2012.
This limited edition box is numbered, like all limited edition Moleskine boxes, and there are 9999 boxes available worldwide. For me this edition is all about the typography and the homage to Tolkien’s illustrations. Notice the fonts used on the front and back of the box, and the fact that the notebook’s details are printed in English, French and Tengwar, an Elven alphabet that Tolkien invented.
You open the box, and are met with this:
The contrast is impressive, and the combination of red, black and gold is striking.
The box itself is a well made cardboard box that can be used to store the notebook, or appropriated to store pens, pencils, pocket notebooks, etc. There’s a black satin ribbon attached so that you can easily pull the notebook out. Very elegant.
Now comes the notebook, the main event. It’s a large ruled Molkesine, with the famous “One ring to rule them all” poem embossed in gold all around the margins, and Tolkien’s illustration of all the rings embossed in gold in the centre.
On the back the inscription on the One Ring appears, embossed in gold:
Again, a dramatic edition that is still elegant and understated.
Inside is where all the fun is. The front endpaper shows a Tolkien illustration of Sauron presumably reaching over the Mountains of Shadow, ready to take over Middle Earth. It looks like this illustration inspired the red and black colour theme of this edition.
On the back is Tolkien’s illustration of the rings over Mount Doom with Barad-dûr in the background, and again the “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,/One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them” inscription.
The add-on is the Cirth alphabet, as it is for all the notebooks in this series:
Which brings us to the one minor thing I don’t like about this edition: the colour of the ribbon bookmark. It’s a light yellow that glitters in the light because of the material its made of, and it’s clearly meant to evoke the One Ring. That’s a lovely idea, but I think that it fails on execution. The bookmark looks pale and vapid compared to everything else about the notebook, almost disappearing into the page. A red bookmark would have probably been better, since a gold one would probably come out tacky.
The 2019 Lord of the Ring Moleskine limited edition notebooks are very well designed. They pay beautiful homage to Tolkien’s illustration and work, and the limited edition box is no different. These are much better than their 2012 counterparts, and make great gifts for the LotR fan in your life.
As usual, these are well made, robust notebooks that can handle a beating with aplomb, but they aren’t, nor are they meant to be, fountain pen friendly. I use gel ink pens or ballpoints in mine, and recommend that you do too.
This week I celebrated two years of daily journaling. While I’ve been keeping journals for years, until the last two years I’ve only done so sporadically. Journaling was something that I did only when things got really rough, to keep myself going, or when I was travelling, to preserve the memories of my trip. I used pocket notebooks for my sporadic journals, as it was more important for me to capture things than to reflect on them. It was a utilitarian process, not an enjoyable one. I knew that once I decided to really start a journaling habit, that would have to change.
So the first thing I did was pick a notebook that I knew I’d want to use, and use daily. The only rules were that it had to make me happy, and that it had to be large enough for me to be able to actually write in it, not just jot things down. I wasn’t looking for the best notebook with the best paper in the best format (I don’t think that exists, actually, but for us stationery geeks the search is always on), just a good enough notebook for me.
I also decided very early on that I couldn’t use a fountain pen for this, because I wanted a pen that I could write with even not under the most ideal circumstances. I was also planning for both the notebook and the pen to bash around freely in my bag. These were going to be used and look used.
I chose Moleskine large ruled hardcover notebooks as my notebook of choice, and the uni-ball Signo RT 0.5 gel ink pen as my pen/refill (UMR-85N) of choice. I wanted a sturdy lined notebook that I’d enjoy using and looking at once it was done, and after years of neglecting the Moleskine for other notebooks I came back to it because of some of their limited edition designs. I knew that I was going to use the uni-ball Signo RT 0.5 as my pen or refill of choice (inside a BigiDesign Ti Arto or Ti Arto EDC), so I didn’t need fountain pen friendly paper. I had decided to pick up the steady journaling habit by starting with a travel journal, which I already had some experience with, and then carrying on from there. On the first evening of a trip to London I happened to walk by the Moleskine store in Covent Garden, and I decided to go in and check out what they had. There was a beautifully designed Batman limited edition notebook in exactly the kind of format I was looking for, and it was only available for sale at the Moleskine stores. I bought it, unwrapped and stamped it with the Moleskine Covent Garden stamps, and I haven’t looked back.
That pen and notebook combo has hardly changed over the years. What has changed is the format I use to journal, and the amount of daily journaling I do. When I started out I was used to only jotting a few lines down here and there when I journaled, so I knew I couldn’t expect to write 4-5 pages per day right from day one. Starting with just a paragraph to half a page a day, I pretty quickly moved to one page per day of just writing.
Then I saw a Neistat Brothers video on Youtube and realized that I could use my journal as a visual capturing device as well, and anything could go in it, so long as it made me remember a moment or a place.
That’s when the notebooks really started to get bloated. From clothing labels to business cards and ticket stubs, if I can put glue on it and it’s visually appealing or evocative, it goes in. I almost always also write a little note for future me, to remind myself what I’m looking at and why it’s there. That change really made these notebooks a kind of personal artifact for me, and I can’t say how precious they’ve all become.
At a certain point I started getting ambitious, moving from writing one page a day to two pages, then four pages, then six. That’s when I had to take a step back and make sure that I wasn’t burning out on journaling for all the wrong reasons. I enjoy writing and I enjoy journaling, but I’m also trying to write fiction, and my journal can’t become something that consumes that, an excuse for not writing. It’s also easy to get carried away and want to finish the notebook as fast as possible just so you can open a fresh one, or brag (even if it’s only to yourself) that you’ve finished a notebook. Nowadays I write one or two pages a day for most days, moving up to more pages only if I really have something special to write about.
Life also happens, and oftentimes it’s scary and ugly, a black hole that threatens to consume all that is good in your life, including journaling. My mom got unexpectedly and very seriously ill last year, and we’ve been struggling with her disease ever since. When she was in hospital I couldn’t bring myself to journal. I backlogged those (thankfully few) dark days, and I realized that I would have to accept that as much as journaling is important to me, family comes first, so backlogging is going to have to become acceptable. I try to backlog as little as possible, but some days just demand that.
I also draw a little in my notebook, tiny thumbnails of things that I want to remember later, or that I just feel like drawing. These are usually food doodles, as I don’t really like to photograph my food.
If you’re looking for some journaling tips, I wrote two posts on that subject here and here. If there’s one thing I can leave you with it’s that if you want to journal, you need to figure out a way to it make it work for you, and be ready to adapt as your life changes over time. There is no perfect journaling system, or perfect journaling notebook, there’s only what works for you.
Out: Campfire Dawn. This is one of the editions that I learned to love the more I used it: it just wears out so well.
In: Snowblind. Somewhat ironically this edition shows itself off best in the summer. It’s going to get dinged up and grimy, but that’s just what happens to used notebooks, especially ones with light coloured covers.
“Frodo gave a cry, and there was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm’s edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle.
“Precious, precious, precious!” Gollum cried. “My Precious! O my Precious!” And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail precious, and he was gone.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
The Mount Doom Moleskine limited edition is the most dramatic of the Lord of the Rings themed notebooks to come out this year, and justifiably so. The red and black provide eye catching high contrast that are in complete opposition to the grey on grey Moria notebook.
This notebook will pop out the moment you see it on the store shelf.
Sauron’s eye gazes upon you. Notice the use of the LotR typeface, and Elven script, on the paper band.
The front cover shows Mount Doom in all its Tolkien illustrated glory, with Frodo and Samwise as little golden dots against its grey and red horror.
The design continues on the spine, with Tolkien’s sign on embossed in red at the top.
The back cover, with the edge of mount doom and Sauron’s all seeing eye in red.
The choice of red elastic closure and a black cover is perfect for this notebook, and the gold embossing of the date, the scene and Frodo and Samwise really pops.
The front end page with Tolkien’s pencil drawings of an aerial view of Mordor. The drawing is very nice, but it does make the “In case of loss” pretty obscure. You can either go extra bold here, or try to blend in and hope that someone will notice.
The aerial map of Mordor continues on the back end page. As usual, but still worth noting, the map is completely aligned with the back pocket.
The extra with this edition is the Cirith alphabet booklet.
The red and black theme continues here.
A closeup on the back pocket, with its red sides and the map that continues into the back pocket.
This is a ruled notebook, and it comes with a red ribbon bookmark. Unless you use inks like Noodler’s bulletproof black, it isn’t fountain pen friendly. Then again, it isn’t marketed as such (Moleskine has other notebooks for that).
The B-side of the paper band details Frodo and Sam’s journey.
I love these Lord of the Rings limited editions (I’m using the Moria one as my daily journal). The mount Doom edition is befitting of the dramatic climax of The Lord of Rings trilogy. If you’re a LotR fan this is definitely a must buy, and probably the best designed notebook of this edition.
Every once in a while Moleskine comes out with something completely new. About a year ago it was the Time limited edition notebooks: a new format of notebook, with thicker paper, and a distinct new design.
This is the Blue Time notebook. Each one has a different colour theme (blue, black, green and brown), a different motif embossed on the cover in foil, and comes in either ruled (lined) or plain (blank) pages.
The Time notebook is thinner than a regular Moleskine, but feels substantial because of its thick chipboard covers. This is a notebook clearly designed to sit on your desk and not be bashed around in your bag, as the covers bruise and stain easily.
The Time notebooks have 140 pages of 100 gsm white, acid-free paper. They are themed around old ornamental motifs and paper making techniques, and so they feature marbled paper for their endpapers.
The spine is fabric covered, and the pages are set and sewn like any Moleskine notebook, so apart from the very first and very last page, they all open flat.
The foil emboss/deboss on the cover is beautiful and understated. The Time notebook features an elastic band and a back pocket, but no ribbon bookmark. Perhaps Moleskine thought that the index and numbered pages are enough.
I love the transparent band, and the way they dealt with the “In case of loss” area on the front endpaper.
The marbling effect on the endpapers is gorgeous, even though it’s a print and not actual hand marbled paper.
Again, someone bothered to align the pocket and back cover prints. Well done.
Since the first page of the notebook doesn’t open flat, Moleskine just put a blank page with a title there. I wish they would have done another throwaway page like that after the last page, but they didn’t.
The index! Two pages, and suitable for people with tiny hand writing and short titles for their pages. It’s a nice idea, though.
The pages of this notebook are numbered, and… fountain pen friendly. Not sort of fountain pen friendly, actually, deliberately fountain pen friendly. This is a notebook “for precious thoughts” after all.
I deliberately tested this notebook with juicy, italic and stub nibs, and it handled it like a champ. The paper shows some shading, though not as much tomoe river paper, obviously, and fast drying times. If you use nibs that lay down a lot of saturated ink there will be a tiny bit of bleed through and some show through, but for medium or fine nibs you likely won’t encounter this issue.
The other side of the page:
The paper is smooth, but not glass smooth, so it will work well with pencil if that’s what you prefer to use.
Moleskine doesn’t make the Time notebook collection anymore, but you can still find them pretty easily. I wish that this paper and format were available in other editions, or even in their regular lineup, and I’m glad to see that they’re still experimenting with their formats, not just with cover designs.
If you can get your hands on one of these notebooks and the format appeals to you, I recommend it.
A few years ago Moleskine came out with a series of rather plain Lord of the Rings limited edition notebooks. This year they’ve had a redo, and this time they’ve decided to invest a little more in the cover designs. The result is a series of notebooks that really does the LotR justice.
The Moleskine Lord of the Rings Moria limited edition is a proof that even if you choose grey as your colour scheme, you don’t have to create a dull product (I’m looking at you Blackwing volume 10).
Notice how even the font on the paper band has been changed to fit the LotR design sensibility.
Every little detail counts, including the choice of colour for the paper band (it just pops), and the Tolkien symbol on the spine.
I’ve decided to use this notebook as my next journal. You can check out just how many things I pack into my journals by comparing the two notebooks’ thickness. They’ve got the same page count (192).
The front cover features a drawing of the entrance to Moria, in dark grey on a light grey background. The drawing continues on the spine and the back. You can see members of the fellowship (in gold foil) standing in front of Moria’s gates, the monster about to attack from the lake, and the carving of the two trees and the entrance runes. A description of the scene is given in gold foil, also in the LotR font.
The back cover. You can see the gate rune to Moria in detail, and the Moleskine logo hardly at all. It’s just debossed into the cover. The elastic band matches the dark grey of the drawing.
Inside the front and back cover is some of Moleskine’s finest work in terms of endpaper design. The front features a sketch of the Misty Mountains and lands to the south and the east, and also the “In case of loss“. You can see Tolkien debating which name to use for various places.
The back includes a contour map of the Misty Mountains around Mirrormere. Again, the drawing is perfectly aligned with the back pocket (it might not seem so in the photo, but trust me, it is), a small but not trivial design feature.
This is a lined notebook, with a light grey ribbon. The paper works well with pencil, ballpoint, gel ink pen, fineliners and Noodler’s Bulletproof black.
The add on to this edition is also unique: an insert with the Cirth alphabet that Tolkien invented.
Inside the insert:
The B-side of the paper band includes a timeline for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, focusing on Frodo and Sam’s journey.
If you love the Lord of the Rings this edition is a no brainer — I highly recommend it. Even for non-fans this is a very well designed, grey/red/black and white edition that proves that you can create beautiful things even with a limited palette.