14 Jun

The notebook obsession: Pt. 1

Uh-oh. I’ve got another obsession.

A few months ago, there was a post on Metafilter about something called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I had never heard of this. The notebooks, apparently, have a devoted cult of users who buy all kinds of accessories, customize and decorate their notebooks, and generally spend a lot of time using them as planners, sketchbooks, and more. I looked at some links about the Midori notebooks, and thought they looked nice, but not anything I would use much. Though I’ve always loved stationery and journals, I’ve never used them enough. Usually I get one, write in it a few times, then never again.

And then an online friend pointed me to a free journal offer from Renaissance Art. This one. She said “Anyone interested in those Midori notebooks should try this offer. You only have to pay for shipping.” Why not? I thought. I do love journals and notebooks. And $9.99 for a pretty leather journal? What’s not to like? It’s not a Midori-brand notebook, but it is the same size as a Midori Passport-size Traveler’s Notebook, the smaller size, so Midori refills would fit.

I ordered the notebook, and was impressed when, only a few days later, this arrived from Renaissance-Art. (Incidentally — I have no connection with Renaissance Art. I just like the notebook they sent me.)

The notebook was made of beautiful, buttery leather. It smelled good, like a new baseball glove. I went online to see how people use and customize their Midoris and “fauxdoris” like this one, and immediately fell head over heels into the rabbit hole. For example, see this Flickr group. People use the books as sketchbooks, art journals, travel journals, planners, and more.

What is special about them is the refillable system. Refills are held in with elastics, and you can add more elastics to hold more refills. There are a ton of different refills — graph, lined, blank, kraft paper, calendars, zip pouches, etc. It’s not difficult to make your own, either. So if you want to use yours as a personal planner, you might include a calendar, a Chronodex insert, and lined paper. But if you want to use yours as an art journal, your inserts might include drawing paper and a pouch to carry supplies. When you fill up one of the paper inserts, you can take it out and replace it with a new one, even if the rest of your inserts aren’t used up yet. It’s endlessly customizable and flexible.

Of course, I got all excited about this and started customizing mine. Of course.

I love the book and have been using it a lot. But. It wasn’t enough. It’s a bit small for writing, and might work better for me as a sort of wallet, so I wanted the larger size — maybe a real Midori?

And with that cliffhanger of sorts, I’ll stop for now. Watch for Part 2.

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