Moleskine journals (whose history you can read at this site) have been around for a long time in various forms. I first saw them in Australia a few years back, and the product tagline -- 'The legendary notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, Chatwin' -- caught my eye. Hemingway scribbled in these things? Picasso sketched in them? This was my first tip that they were Something Good.
In the online journalling communities I visited, I started to see people using -- and raving about -- these notebooks. Finally I bit the bullet and forked over $32.00 for a basic ruled notebook. It took me almost two years to fill up, so I considered I got my money's worth from it, and from then on I was hooked.
>> They are all the same size. This appeals to my bulk-loving and originally tidy little heart.
>> They are hard-wearing. The cover is stiff and hardy (haven't bent or seriously dented mine yet, in spite of its being stuffed in many bags), and the corners are rounded so you don't get any crush happening.
>> An elastic keeps the notebook shut when you want it shut (especially useful if you stick lots of bits and pieces in).
>> The plain black means you can do anything you want with it. Leave it sleek and classy, or customise it with your own cool bits and pieces.
>> Ease of writing. The spine lays flat when you wrote so there's none of that akwardness you get if you're scrawling too near the centre of the notebook.
>> The paper. Always the most important aspect of a journal for me (along with hardiness) is the paper. I really like the paper in Moleskines. The regular notebook paper is smooth and creamy with less ink show-through than you'd expect for its lightness. The sketchbook paper (my current Moleskine) is thick and excellent, and strong enough even to handle paint.
I've used a few different Moleskines. The first was the regular ruled notebook. After that, I wanted some more but I couldn't afford a hardcover one at the time, so I bought myself a handful of Cahiers, thinner cardboard Moleskine notebooks with sewn spines. These aren't as hardy but are fun for short-term journals and note-taking. Plus, they're really customisable with cardboard covers.
Currently, I'm using the 2008 Daily Planner (see the second and third pictures, above) which is chunky and fat and just like the Ruled Notebook, only with dates and times and such. I use a planner every day, so for me, it's worth the investment.
For my regular journal, I'm using the Sketchbook. Because the paper is so much heavier, this one only has 100 pages. It won't last as long as the Ruled Notebook, with 240 pages, but I'm loving having the freedom to paint or sketch or stick stuff into my journal.
Always, the downside to Moleskines is their price. But I'm over the moon since a very awesome friend recommended Book Depository to us. It's a UK store (I'm imagining it like the UK equivalent of Amazon) and their prices are very, very good. Best of all: they have free shipping! I ordered my 2009 Daily Planner from them and it arrived in six days in good order, postage-free as they'd promised, and only $25. Last year I'd had to pay $40 for the same planner in a local Borders.
Thus ends my ode to my trust companion, the Moleskine journal. As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about these books. Abbie, I hope this answers your question. Other mildly delirious journal keepers, have you used a Moleskine? Did you like it? And everyone else who now thinks I'm certifiably batty for going on so long about a notebook, well, you'll just have to deal with it.
Tegan -- the little boy on the card was cut from a children's picture book I'd found at the library for twenty cents. It's a weird book, but some of the illustrations are cute, so I use them in artwork. I'd be happy to post card pictures occasionally if you're happy to read them!
Staish -- Oh, he's a grand little chef when it comes to appearances. It's the flavour -- and the hygiene -- that I tend to worry about.
Abbie -- it's always so cool to finish up another journal, isn't it?