Posts filed under Notebook Reviews

Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on his blog, Smallberry Drive, Twitter, and Instagram.)

Hello everyone, my name is Nick and I have a paper problem.

I guess it started in kindergarten. Up until that point in my life I had been doodling on stacks of ragged, ripped out blue lined notebook paper, without a care in the world. What a fool I was. One fateful day my teacher passed out thick stacks of colored construction paper, and my world was turned asunder. "There are other types of paper!?!" My mind whirled. Other children we busy cutting the sheets up with their safety scissors, all making a pleasurable "SKRRRRIIT" sound as they cut, but not me. I was shoving every available piece into my Captain Caveman backpack. I knew that I must save those for later. That was just the beginning.

In high school I experimented, everything from spiral bound sketchbooks with crisp white pages to hard backed notebooks that looked more like novels than journals. It was a phase I would not grow out of.

Things only worsened in college, now I knew where to get the stuff I had only heard about: Stacks of A4 linen, 80 lb Bristol by the pile, Cardstock as far as I could see and Vellum in every tone imaginable. The Art Store was my enabler. It was just too much.

I bottomed out one day when my friends found me facedown in a pile of thick toothed, cold pressed Cresent board with two bulk rolls of newsprint stock paper tubes stuck over on my arms.

These days I try to keep it under control. Sure, I still stock up on Bristol board during holiday sales. It is a nice heavy stock with a good rough tooth, makes me feel safe to have it around.

Temptation still rears its head, though. Just the other day I received a Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook, A4, blank pages. Someone had done their homework, someone was trying to pull me back in. Then the first bit of doubt creeped in, the paper was light and smooth and I like my paper thick and toothy. Scoffing, I cracked it opened and took at it with a pencil and, well, wow. The paper is so damned SMOOTH, plus it took the graphite very well. That is usually my problem with smooth papers, the lead lays atop the paper like a stiff breeze might blow it away. My pencil glided over the page like an ice skater, leaving smooth black trails.

Impressed, but still not completely sold on this new stranger, I broke out my brushes. No way this thin stock could hold straight ink. I gave it my all. The full business. Ink wash and everything. The notebook continued to surprise as the brush slid across the pages, okay, okay. I was gaining respect for this notebook, but knew that would all fall away once I flipped the page to see the inky mess underneath from the bleed through. I flipped the page, and gave a gasp, the next page was pristine. I still can't believe it.

I had to take stock of the other features, now that paper quality had been put to the test, and passed. Dual rings bind the notebook together, adding strength to the overall appearance. A black plastic cover with minimal text and a matte texture covers the front, a thick woodpulp backing finishes the book. Each page has a micro perforation, along with a light grey area for "Title" and "Date/No." along the top. It is sleek and clean.

And that's not all! They offer it in a variety! I mean, over at JetPens you can get them ruled, graphed, and plain in everything from steno style to weekly calendars. Listen, if you just loan me a little bit I could just order a few, just two or three and I will be good. Just this once, I mean I'm good for it you know, I , I just... Okay... Breathe... Just breathe...

Whew. I'm good. I, I just got caught up. I still have many more black sheets waiting for me in my Mnemosyne, I'm good for now. I just have to remember the mantra: "I don't NEED more paper, I just WANT more paper, and that is okay."

Thanks for letting me share, now I've got some doodling to do.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 4, 2016 and filed under Maruman, Notebook Reviews.

Clairefontaine Basics Life Unplugged Clothbound Notebook Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Clairefontaine has been a favorite paper of mine for a long time, so when JetPens started carrying the Basics Life Unplugged notebooks recently, I jumped on them. Previously, I reviewed a similar notebook by Clairefontaine — the 1951 Collection notebook — that I also loved, but the Basics notebook has a more "traditional" layout that's similar to a Leuchtturm or Moleskine notebook. Fancy elastic band or not, it's a great notebook worthy of your consideration.

Design and aesthetics

The Basics Life Unplugged Clothbound Notebook, apart from having an annoyingly long name, is a fantastic design. The covers are a soft card stock material that is strong, but flexible. It's the kind of material that would hold up reasonably well in a bag that was well-maintained and packed with care, but would quickly show wear and tear in a more reckless environment. I fit into the former group, so my book has no signs of wear thus far. The version I have is tan, but you can also get red, green, blue, or black covers.

The elastic band closure that goes around the book is a bit weak, in my opinion. It holds the book shut, but it moves around too much and is too easy to slide off. This might be different for each book depending on the quality control processes they are put through, but it's a minor quirk. Interestingly, the strap is held in place on the back cover with a couple of metal tabs on the inside of the book. This is interesting and gives the book a unique look as opposed to the hidden, glued straps you find in Leuchtturm and Moleskine.

The binding of the book is fantastic. It's clothbound on the outside, and is extremely well-done. In my use, the binding is stiff when new, but quickly breaks in to allow flat use in no time. When a page is being resistive, some medium pressure for a few seconds fixes it quickly. I'm not an expert on the book-binding process, but this seems like a high quality job. Plus, the cloth binding interacts well with the covers of the book. In my case, the tan looks great with the black cloth.

The size of the book is 6" x 8.25" — a fairly standard journal size, which is possibly my favorite size. There are 96 sheets of 90gsm paper that features a light blue lining spaced at 8mm. Personally, I really enjoy a lined notebook, but (like all Clairefontaine offerings) really wish there were some other options outside of the standard lined.

Paper quality

The main reason that Clairefontaine is one my favorite paper and notebook brands is because of the paper quality and characteristics. They make fantastic paper, and it's a real pleasure to write on.

At 90gsm, this paper can take almost anything you can throw at it. Fountain pens, brush pens, and all manner of gel, liquid, ballpoint, and hybrid pens will have no problems. Despite being a fairly thick paper, dry time is superb.

The paper has a slight tooth, but is hard to notice on smooth nibs. It's the perfect amount of feedback for my use, as slippery smooth papers can sometimes cause me accuracy issues when writing.

Show-through is minimal and bleed is non-existent, making this an ideal paper for fountain pen users.

I really adore this paper, and strongly encourage you to try it out if you've never had a Clairefontaine notebook.


The Clairefontaine Basics Life Unplugged notebook is my new favorite notebook. The simple design and wonderful paper, along with the great price of just $9, make this notebook an irresistible tool in my arsenal. If you don't mind being locked in to a lined-only paper, you owe it to yourself to give Clairefontaine a shot. Who knows — it might be your new favorite paper.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 3, 2016 and filed under Clairefontaine, Notebook Reviews.

The Rhodia DotPad Notepad Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

For the last couple of years, I've used the same notebook to do reviews for pens and paper, so I thought it was about time to put the spotlight on this workhorse notebook for a while.

The Rhodia DotPad Notepad No. 16 is an A5-sized notebook that has served me well for quite a while. I use the notebook exclusively for reviewing pens and inks, but it's such a great notebook that I've started using it for other things as well.

Size and usability

The A5 size is a personal favorite of mine. It's not too big, and not too small. That, combined with the staple top-bound layout really make me a happy camper. It's like a legal pad done right, but sized for notes and scribbles.

The cover of the notebook has a couple of pre-made seams that make it easy and clean to fold the cover back over the spine of the notebook. This keeps the cover out of your way when writing, and Rhodia even thought ahead and put their logo on the inside cover so that it's prominently displayed on the top of the binding.

Another thing I love about this notebook is the perforated sheets. In a notepad like this, perforated sheets seems like a standard, but the Rhodia has some of the easiest, cleanest perforations I've ever used. I rarely have any jagged edges when ripping out a sheet, and it looks clean even when you get down to the last pages of the pad.

For me, I think this notebook was meant to be ripped as you progress. Sure, you could leave the pages attached and fold them over, but that would become a problem after about 30 sheets. There's something refreshing about finishing a page of something and ripping it out to store, send, or whatever. It's also nice to open the notebook to a fresh, clean sheet on top.

Paper quality

The notebook contains 80 sheets of Rhodia paper (80gsm), which is a favorite among many, many people. Rhodia makes fantastic paper, and this notebook is no exception. It can handle anything you throw at it, including ink swabs from cotton balls, fat brush pens, and wide calligraphy nibs. If you've ever used Rhodia paper, you know what to expect. If you've never used Rhodia, you're in for a treat.

To sum up the paper, it's smooth, bright, and well-behaved. It's a bit on the thick side, but this isn't Tomoe River paper — it has substance.

Dot grid pattern

Finally, the namesake feature. Personally, I love a dot grid pattern on paper. It provides a lot of structure, but plenty of room to breathe at the same time. Graph ruling is helpful, but the lines can take over the page visually, and can get in the way of your work sometimes. The dot grid provides the same benefits of graph paper, but has a more minimal footprint. It's there when you want, but easily fades in the background if you don't want it. The flexibility of this pattern is why I love it so much, and Rhodia does a great job with it.


Wrapping up, the Rhodia DotPad is an essential notebook in my opinion. They aren't very expensive (less than $10 for the A5 size), have plenty of sheets, and work well with all types of pens and pencils. They're incredibly simple notebooks that are well-made and delightful to use. I heartily recommend them, or a comparable Rhodia notepad if dot grid isn't your jam.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 20, 2016 and filed under Notebook Reviews, Rhodia.

Apica Blank Twin Ring Notebook Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

In the never-ending quest to find the perfect notebook for every situation, I recently came across the Apica Blank Cover Twin Ring Notebooks.

Premium notebooks are plentiful and definitely have their place. The major downside (for me, at least) is that I feel like I have to fill them with award-winning thoughts since they cost so much. While this is completely my own irrational problem, it's still real to me. So, that's why inexpensive "beater" notebooks that take fountain pens well are so enticing.

The Apica notebooks are the perfect solution to my self-inflicted problem, and I'm sure they meet the needs and desires of a lot of other people as well. In the slim-B5 market, they are my equivalent to Field Notes. At $4.35 for a 30-sheet fountain-pen-friendly notebook, it's hard to argue with.

The exterior

The outside of the notebook is a plain, light-weight, craft card-stock. It's not heavy duty, so don't expect it to hold up any better than your Field Notes covers. Part of the allure of a blank cover is the ability to decorate it in any way you see fit. The only thing on the cover is a small sticker on the back of the notebook. And, if that sticker bothers you, it's simple to remove without damaging the card-stock underneath. The interiors of the covers are also blank. Really, the description of this product is quite apt.

The thickness of the notebook is thinner than I expected based on other Apica notebooks I've purchased with the same number of sheets. Still, the paper doesn't feel thin or cheap. I think most of the thinness can be attributed to the thin cover materials.

The twin ring binding is fantastic on these books. It's strong, sturdy, and come in a variety of colors. While we're talking about colors and variety, I'll also mention that the books come in graph, blank, and lined varieties. The graph books have white binding, the blank books have black binding, and the lined books are available with blue, green, red, or yellow binding. Plenty of choices, all for $4.35.

Finally, the size is one of my favorites — slim B5. It's tall and slender, which is perfect for me when writing.

The paper

I was surprised by the quality of the paper in relation to the price, which is a good thing.

The paper is very smooth with every pen I've tried. It's a pleasure to write on, just like other Apica papers I've tried. The paper is 70 gsm weight, which is barely good enough for fountain pens. I say barely, but it actually handled everything I tried with flying colors. Each paper is different, and I've used other 70 gsm papers that didn't perform as well as this one.

Feathering was almost non-existent, show-through was impressively low, and dry time was pretty quick. The version I have is lined, and they're spaced 6.5 mm apart in a light blue ink. The pages are not perforated, which is something I appreciate; although, this might deter some buyers based on their preferences for tearing out sheets as needed.

In my experience, anything up to a medium nib and standard ink will do fine with this paper. Anything above that or an exceptionally wet ink might cause some problems, but I think they would be minimal. Overall, I'm really impressed by the paper for the price of the notebook. I'd wager they cut costs on the covers in order to use higher quality paper.


It's plain, has no frills, but is inexpensive and works really well with most fountain pens. This is a great notebook for classes, general writing, brainstorming, etc. in situations where you don't want to use a more expensive notebook. If a low-key, budget-friendly, fountain-pen-friendly notebook sounds enticing to you, I can't recommend the Apica Blank Cover Twin Ring enough.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on December 9, 2015 and filed under Apica, Notebook Reviews.