Harry Marks on the Dime Novel Field Notes edition

I don’t often have guest reviews on this blog, but when Harry C. Marks comes at me, I know it’s gonna be good. Harry’s an internet-friend who I’ve made sure to hang out with in real life several times, a long-hand novelist, and, like me, a stationery lover. He recently reviewed the latest Field Notes release, Dime Novel.


Field Notes Dime Novel. Photo by Harry C. Marks.

I’ve appreciated Field Notes notebooks for some time. I wouldn’t call myself a “fan” in the truest sense as I tend to skip most releases. Nor am I an obsessive collector, so when an edition comes out that captures my attention, it’s something special.

The first Field Notes I ever bought were the Drink Local editions. The perfect notebooks for Fall in hues of brown and orange, fallen leaves scattered on the table. Even the covers crunched when I cracked their spines.

Then came the Workshop Companion edition—six notebooks meant for six different kinds of projects, from woodworking to car repair. I’m not much of a handyman, but the package was too beautiful not to have on my shelf.

Finally, there was Byline. This was it: the perfect Field Notes for me. A departure from their usual staple-bound pocket fare, the Byline was an extra-long, spiral-bound reporter’s notebook clad in a utilitarian gray and filled with some of the smoothest, creamiest paper I’d ever used. Its brutalist aesthetic concealed an inner beauty, 70 pages of gold between two layers of rock—and I craved more. I traded with friends, some sent me spare books in care packages, and I hoarded them among my growing collection.

I thought I’d never find another book as perfect as the Byline. Then I opened my email last Monday afternoon.

Field Notes Dime Novel. Photo by Harry C. Marks.

The Field Notes Dime Novel Edition is the company’s Fall 2017 release and the 36th limited edition in the lineup.

And it. Is. Gorgeous.

Field Notes Dime Novel. Photo by Harry C. Marks.Reminiscent of old dime novels of the 19th century, the notebooks stand at 4-1/4″ by 6-1/2”, roughly the same dimensions as their namesake. Three separate notebooks comprise the 72 pages within and are Smyth-sewn inside a thick, brown-orange cover.

Field Notes is no stranger to experimenting with its covers. The blinding, aggressive Unexposed editions were better left that way. The cherry veneer of the Shelterwood put a tiny tree in everyone’s pockets. The Snowblind edition forced writers and note-takers out of the house as its stark white cover shifted to blue when exposed to sunlight. These gimmicks all had the same purpose: differentiation. No other pocket notebook had a wooden cover, nor one that changed colors in sunlight, and no company was blind-mailing subscribers random notebooks without first knowing the contents of each envelope.

This is what makes the Dime Novel edition so interesting. The form factor is different from the usual lineup, but not so drastic as a Byline. The cover doesn’t have a pop-out ruler or foil coating. It’s just brown paper debossed with black ink. While more elaborate than, say, the America the Beautiful edition, it lacks the pop of some of the more intense covers mentioned above.

Field Notes Dime Novel. Photo by Harry C. Marks.

That said, the Dime Novel cover isn’t simple. Within its black borders are lines of text meant to sell the notebook and illustrate its purpose. “Practical Beauty and Value,” “Adventures in Creativity,” “A Pocket Companion” all adorn the front, arranged to fill the space and yet be easily glossed over. The two things that stand out are the words “FIELD NOTES” at the top and “‘Dime Novel’ Edition” toward the bottom. Everything else is white noise. The surrounding text provides dimension, but can be easily ignored.

The original Beadle dime novel covers were not meant to be ogled. They were there to keep the pages from falling out. I see Field Notes’ homage in much the same light; the deceptively simple cover is there to protect your words and sketches, then get out of the way. What’s surprising about this edition is just how inspirational and aspirational it seems. This is a book begging to be written in and yet holding it, it feels too beautiful to sully with one’s own musings. How funny is that? A notebook modeled on cheap, mass market “literature” isn’t cheap looking enough for the average to-do list.

The 72 numbered pages inside are a hearty 70# stock seemingly made for pencil. I tested the paper with a Blackwing 602 (firm core) and a Blackwing 24 (extra-firm core), as those are the two pencils I use most. The paper has a very slight tooth to it that grips the point tightly, but doesn’t erode it to a nub after a few strokes. Artists and sketchers will probably like this paper a lot, but I defer to them for final verdicts, as I do fountain pen users. As a pencil user, I’m pleased.

Field Notes Dime Novel. Photo by Harry C. Marks.

This edition feels like a paperback in the hand. Given a few weeks in a back pocket, it’ll probably start to look more like an original dime novel than the crisp notebook in these pictures, with the cover crushed and faded like your granddad’s old hat. My only complaint concerns the blank pages. I’d hoped a notebook centered around literature would’ve provide writers with the lines necessary to write their own, but blank is more versatile. Fair enough. It’s probably my bias talking anyway—I almost never buy blank notebooks and I have no use for grids.

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching and I’ve been outlining my first attempt in a Byline. I’d originally planned to knock out my daily 2,000 words in Scrivener on my laptop, but the arrival of these Dime Novel notebooks have presented a new challenge. With a guide slipped behind each page, might I tackle the Kerouac-ian effort of writing 50,000 words in one month by hand instead? The thought of seeing what could become a published novel get its start in a such a format is enticing. Even more so when I imagine the mason jar on my desk stuffed with Blackwing 24 stubs by the end of November.

Whether I decide to tackle NaNoWriMo digitally or otherwise is yet to be decided. What’s certain is my lust for this latest Field Notes edition. These books will be used and for something greater than to-do lists. They deserve it. Sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to capture the attention of a jaded group of collectors. Sometimes, you just need to make a simple, beautiful notebook—a work of art meant to inspire other works of art, and these notebooks have inspired me.


Many thanks to Harry C. Marks for his review of this beautiful notebook! You can find Harry online at HCMarks.com or listen to his podcast, Covered, about writers and their books. In his current season,  he’s talking exclusively to women authors about their books, and recently chatted with pencil friend Caroline Weaver about her book, “The Pencil Perfect.” It’s so good, and very pencilly, so you should have a listen. —Andy

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Paper Tasting: Packs of unique Japanese paper celebrating color and texture

Edit 10/04/17: The Paper Tasting packs are now live and available on the Yamamoto Paper Etsy shop! It looks like they’re selling for just over $11 each. Check them out here.


A few weeks ago, I went to the San Francisco International Pen Show. Graphite representation was pretty low, but I was excited to hang out with some stationery blogger friends, like Ana Reinert from the Well Appointed Desk, and Brad Dowdy from The Pen Addict. In fact, I worked a shift at his Nock Co. booth, peddling fine nylon pen and notebook holders.

I also met a really interesting guy — Taizo Yamamoto. He was visiting the US, and is sort of a Japanese counterpart to me and other US stationery bloggers — he has a podcast about stationery (called Hoji-raji, literally translating into to dig up, as in digging up interesting and backgrounds of stationery industry people), focussed on paper. (It’s all in Japanese, so I’m sad I can’t listen to it). Our mutual friend, Bruce Eimon from Think on Paper Co., introduced us (you may remember Bruce from my post about the Mitsubishi Uni Palette).

Taizo and Bruce collaborate on a really cool product called Paper Tasting, which is really what I’m here to talk about.

Taiko Yamamoto's Paper Tasting packs

What is Paper Tasting?

paper-tasting-3

Paper Tasting pack “Yellow, vol. 1”

Well, it’s a sampler of different kinds of papers, organized in an expertly and tightly curated selection. It includes three samples of paper arranged in a theme — generally by color.

There seem to be, generally, three kinds of paper included in these packs:

  • A small pad of thick, plush, extravagant paper
  • A medium-sized pad of a more conventional, but still gorgeous, paper
  • A larger pad of a thinner, vellum paper

But what is Paper Tasting, really?

To me, each pack seems like a celebration of the visual and tactile capabilities of paper. Bruce and I have a sort of ongoing conversation about the Japanese philosophy around paper — they place a much higher regard on texture and thickness than US companies often do, which focuses more on ruling and economy.

In fact, check out this brilliant taxonomy of paper that’s included in each Paper Tasting pack — they have 64 varieties of paper organized neatly for easy reference:

Paper Tasting's Taxonomy and Classification of Japanese Paper

Paper Tasting’s Taxonomy and Classification of Japanese Paper

It took me some time to feel comfortable writing on this paper, because it looked and felt so precious — and because it feels like a limited resource. (Some of this paper just isn’t made anymore. The speckled “Paradise” paper from the “Blue, vol. 1” pack, for example, was discontinued earlier this year, which is a tragedy.)

Paper Tasting pack

Paper Tasting pack “Blue, vol. 1”

What do I do with these Paper Tasting packs?

If you’re like me, they’re perfect for just looking at and playing with. There are so many more unique colors and textures in these packs than I’m used to seeing in one place.

And if you want to tear them off, fold them up and try out different pencils, pens, markets and other utensils on them — go for it!

Yellow Kaguya paper, embossed to look like the surface of the moon. From the Paper Tasting pack “Yellow, vol. 1”

I was lucky enough to get to try these packs out before their launch — according to the website, they’ll available for sale starting October 1. I’m not sure of the price, or how often they’ll be releasing new packs, but be sure to follow them closely.

And if you can get your hands on the Blue, vol. 1 and the Yellow, vol. 1 packs — do.

Find more information about Paper Tasting packs here, and check back in October for information on how to buy them. And thank you, Bruce and Taizo, for the preview!

Two more Blackwing notebooks to complement the Slate

It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything about Palomino Blackwing/Pencils.com/CalCedar. But it’s not for want of any new products from them. They’ve been busy!

Their latest release is a great follow-up to my post in Summer 2014 about the Blackwing Slate, a Blackwing-branded A5-sized journal. Since that release, they haven’t said much about their line of paper products, though I’ve seen the Slate in most stores that carry their pencils. I figured they’ve been concentrating on their (very ambitious) quarterly Volumes releases.

But it was in the last Volumes release that they gave us a taste of what’s to come. The Volume 205 edition (the “jade” edition) included an extra. A small, single, pocket-sized notebook with the same leather-ish polyurethane black cover as the Slate.

blackwing-notebooks-1Later on, they announced it was called the Blackwing Clutch. And they followed that up with the Summit, a larger, 8.5 x 10” edition.

blackwing-notebooks-2Like the Slate, the Clutch and the Summit are plain black with a creamy, thick paper. Unlike the Slate, they are perfect-bound with a contiguous cover from front to back, similar to a Write Notepad notebook. And they have a soft cover; similar to a Moleskine, though with a better, thicker cover.

One thing about both of these new notebooks was bugging me — the name. The “Slate” makes sense — it’s another name for a handheld writing surface. But what about the “Clutch” and the “Summit”?

Finally, I emailed Alexander, Blackwing’s brand manager and asked. He said:

“The ‘Clutch,’ because it will (hopefully) come in clutch when you have a great idea on the go, and because it opens like a clutch bag. The ‘Summit,’ because we envision this being more of a meeting/desktop/workplace notebook, and because it’s our largest notebook offering.”

(“Clutch,” for those of you who don’t know, is slang for “performs under pressure.”)

Aesthetics

blackwing-notebooks-iphone

I’m a fan of the matte black covers — they match my iPhone really well, so when my notebook and phone are laying on a desk next to each other, it looks like I planned it that way.

That said, I’m generally drawn to stationery items with a bit of color. The Baron Fig Three-Legged Juggler and the Write Notepads Kindred Spirit are two notebooks that come to mind.

But these are subtle and classic, and complement their pencils really nicely. Blackwing pencils are themselves not subtle (though I do think most of them are pretty classic), so unlike a bright pocket notebook (Say, the Field Notes Unexposed edition), these notebooks won’t draw attention away from them.

The Form Factor

One of the big advantages to the Clutch, Blackwing says, is to use it sideways, in “clamshell mode,” as it were. Two things about this:

  • That’s not a particularly unique value proposition — you can do that with any saddle-stitched or perfect-bound pocket notebook. And really, anything that’s graph or dot-grid ruled.
  • Also, the notebook isn’t particular good at being used sideways like that — the binding is very tight and it’s hard to break the spine on some pages.

Like other perfect-bound pocket notebooks, the Clutch is bound in such a way that in order to let it lie open, one must “crack” the spine —

bendy-blackwing-notebookThe Summit makes no such claims. The binding is a bit different — it’s more of a traditional journal, with the cover material tucked underneath the end sheet.

The Paper

Like the Slate, these two has a thick 100gsm ivory paper. It’s luxurious and smooth, but kinda smeary. I don’t know why I didn’t notice it in the Slate, but looking back, the Slate’s paper seems toothier. Check out the smear from this Blackwing Pearl:

smear-testAnd that’s not even the softest Blackwing out there.

Despite the smeariness, I like it a lot. It feels like paper befitting a luxury brand.

I am, however, not a huge fan of the dot grid here. It’s well-spaced — just about the same as the Baron Fig Confidant. But the dots themselves are big and bold, which makes them feel a bit intrusive. I would much prefer them to be smaller and lighter.

blackwing-notebook-7

The darker but smaller dot grid of a Blackwing Summit notebook next to the grayer but bigger dot grid of a Baron Fig Confidant

Both the Clutch and the Summit come in dot grid, lined and blank (the latter two I haven’t tried).

The Price

This is where you really see what “luxury brand” means. Like their pencil counterparts, this is not cheap. A three-pack of the Clutch notebooks are $14.95. The Summit is just a dollar cheaper than the Slate, at $21.95.

Is it worth it?

This is something you’ll have to determine for yourself. For me? It’s worth the quality they put into the notebook. They seem way more sturdy than the $12-per-pack Field Notes (only time will tell, though).

However great the quality is, I still would prefer a bit of color in my notebook. The Baron Fig Confidant and Vanguard limited editions are great for me in that regard, as are Write Notepads’ pocket notebooks. The Blackwing notebooks don’t appeal to me, aesthetically, as much as they do. If you like a subtle, classic black, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

I will certainly keep coming back to Blackwing for pencils, though. My Volumes subscription renews in a week, and that’ll be the start of my third year as a subscriber.

Check out the Blackwing Clutch at Blackwing602.com. And the Blackwing Summit. And if you haven’t seen it before, the Blackwing Slate is the hardcover journal sized right in the middle.

And thanks to Blackwing for providing me a pack of the Clutches and Summits at no charge for review purposes.

The Waverley Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebook: Beautiful, but oddly ruled

I love plaid.

I don’t know if it’s because of my ten years of Catholic school — or perhaps in spite of it — but the colorful, patterned cloth has appealed to me for as long as I can remember. Perhaps none have been present in my wardrobe more than Black Watch plaid — a simple, understated green and blue plaid with roots in Scottish military garb born out of the unsuccessful Jacobite rebellion in the early eighteenth century.

I had a Pendleton wool scarf, which I cherished, and, in my late teens and early 20s, even a wool sweater vest!

Ladies.

Thats why, when I first became aware of Waverley’s tartan cloth-bound collection of journals from my friend Gary Varner’s blog, I was instantly lovestruck.

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The Mitsubishi Uni Palette 2B: Dark, soft, and hard to smudge

A month or so ago, a member of the Erasable Podcast Facebook group posted a picture of some pencils he bought from Japan — a Mitsubishi Uni model called “Palette” which bills itself being “designed for students.

The Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil

According to the box, Mitsubishi says:

“Palette stationery is designed to help students develop their imaginations and think independently through the joy of writing.”

What really struck me at first about these, when seeing a picture of them, was the three shades of bright, brilliant blue on the pencil barrels. From a rich Navy blue down to a vibrant Baby blue varnish, with bright pearly-white imprints, this stood out to me, especially compared to its higher-end cousin, the understated maroon Hi-Uni.

My wife, considerate person that she is, noted my enthusiasm and went about tracking down a pack. She found a seller on Amazon that shipped from Japan, for free! Of course, it took almost a month to arrive, but when it did, I was so excited to break it open.

Aesthetics

As I mentioned before, the most striking feature of the pencil is the bright blues it comes in. It feels a lot more fun and light than the darker, serious maroon, black and gold of the Hi-Uni. It makes a lot of sense, being for students.

The Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil and the Kum Masterpiece sharpener

The ends were unfinished, which was a bit disappointing. One of my favorite things about many Japanese pencils are the dipped or capped ends that often have a pinstripe or some detailing to finish it. A bright white to match the foil stamp would have been nice. But to keep costs down, I completely understand why it was bare.

The Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil

Upon closer inspection, I was pleased to see that all the cores looked perfectly centered inside the wood. The casings seemed perfectly aligned and there were no chips or paint overspill despite the dramatic woodgrain.

Shavings from the Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil and a Kum Masterpiece sharpener

The pencil sharpened like a dream. As with many Japanese pencils, It sharpened smooth and the wood sheered off in almost one piece. I used my Kum Masterpiece, my favorite hand-held sharpener, to get that razor-sharp long point I prefer.

Performance

The first thing to note is how dark and smooth it is. For a 2B, it was so rich and smooth — waxy, almost — that I thought it was an error. Surely this was a 4 or 6B!

Writing test with the Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil

Because it was so soft and smooth, it didn’t hold its point for very long. It could be because I was writing on fairly toothy paper — a Baron Fig Confidant — but by the time I got two-thirds of the way down the page, the point was quite dull. I wasn’t even pressing very hard.

Writing with the Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil

However, what really makes this pencil stand out is the smudgeability (is that a word?). As soon as I wrote a few words, I ran my finger across it and barely got a smear. This felt more like a 2B than something softer and darker.

A smear test with the Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil

What makes it “designed for students”?

The day I opened up these pencils, I had lunch with a friend of mine: Bruce Eimon, who started Think on Paper .Co, a company specializing in Japanese stationery. He was raised in Japan, and deeply understands the Japanese stationery market — how it reflects that industry’s values, their philosophy of product design, and how they approach creativity and learning.

It’s important, he says, for Japanese schoolchildren to understand how to use a pencil. They spend a lot of time taking tests — writing and filling in little bubbles on a standardized exam. This pencil is soft and dark, so students don’t have to press too hard, which can affect their handwriting. It’s lightweight and relatively thin — for little hands — and is probably relatively smudge proof because those hands are often clumsy and are dragged through the graphite markings.

Brilliant.

If you’re in the US, it’s pretty hard to get ahold of these — CW Pencils doesn’t have them, and neither do JetPens or Pencils.com. As far as I can tell, I can only get them on Amazon. But, the good news is that they’re not expensive — less than $7 for a dozen. They just take a while to get here.

If you’re interested in picking up a dozen of these for yourself, you can find them on Amazon, here!

EDIT: Someone pointed out to me that there are also Palettes in gorgeous pastel colors with pink and orange in the package, and Palettes in a soft triangle shaped barrel!

Also, if you are reading this on your mobile device and have Medium installed, check this out — I was playing around with Medium Series, their new format similar to Snapchat or Instagram stories. I wrote this same review there, too.

The Viarco Vintage Collection

Whoa — it’s an actual pencil review! I haven’t reviewed an actual pencil since October, with the Baron Fig Archer. Of course, with the new renaissance of pencil blogs, you don’t need me anymore — I’m talking about impassioned publications like Lead Fast and, of course, the re-launch of Pencil Talk, which I’m very excited about..

However, there are some fantastic pencils out there that I want to explore.

Sometime last year, one of my favorite places on earth, CW Pencils, started selling a series of pencils from Viarco. They’re a manufacturer in Portugal that often flies under the radar here in the US (though among our pencil community, people are getting hip to them).

Making pencils since 1907, Viarco is a small but quality pencil brand that makes good quality HBs like the Premium 2001, or the Desenho 250 H (a dark, smooth pencils that CWP recommended for left-handers).

This series, the Viarco Vintage Collection, has six varieties of boxed dozens:

  • 1951: multicolored HB hex pencils with white stripes on the edges
  • 2000: Pearlized multicolored HB hex pencils with a bright stripe and cap on the end
  • 3000: Similar to the 2000s, but round instead of Hex
  • 3500: Red HB hex pencils with white stripes on the edges
  • 272D: Blue copying pencils with violet ink (originally used to transfer ink to other paper decades ago

What’s really remarkable about this collection is not how exceptional the pencils are in themselves — it’s the level of detail to which they recreated the originals. From the packaging to the paint on the barrel, they look incredibly similar.

As a fan of vintage aesthetics (I know, I’m a dirty hipster), I knew I wanted to try them. But, at $15 a dozen, I knew I didn’t want to pick them all up. I went for the multicolored packs; the 3000 and the 1951 sets.

Performance

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how well they write — I honestly don’t think that matters as much. They’re not particularly remarkable. But they’re not terrible either. I would say they write dark and maybe a little on the scratchy side, like a General’s Cedar Point #2 or a Baron Fig Archer. The 1951 seemed to be the scratchiest of the two, though they were really similar. It really felt like what I usually expect a vintage pencil to feel like, if that makes any sense.

Construction and Aesthetics

It really seems like they went all out to replicate the vintage feel. The paint looks like it was really painted on, and the foil stamp on the barrel feels like it was really stamped — the 3000, for instance, had a deeper imprint in the center of the stamp than the edges, like like a round pencil barrel would dictate. The end-dip is just a little uneven, like maybe it was dipped by hand.

I actually have no idea if that’s the case — if Viarco actually dipped and stamped their pencils by hand. But if they don’t, they replicated it perfectly.

The cores are perfectly centered in the barrel — a look through both sets of 12 pencils shows that that’s the case for all of them. And the wood looks like it’s real cedar — it’s a bit darker and more fragrant than many modern pencils.

I’d love to get hold of an actual vintage Viarco so I can compare the two. If I can do that, I’ll report back here.

Meanwhile, check these out for yourself! CW Pencils sells all six varieties for $15 a boxed dozen, or if you can’t make up your mind, you can just buy the full set for $75.

A view Askew: a review of the Baron Fig Askew Confidant

A year or two ago, I noticed a coworker of mine taking notes from a meeting in a “Grids and Guides” notebook. You may have seen these before — a simple, cloth-bound A5-ish sized notebook sold in a lot of hipster gift stores. They come with several pages each of unusual lines or grids. She was writing on a page that had a big Fibonacci spiral gridded on the inside.

Throughout the meeting, I saw her follow the spiral until it got too tight to write in, and then she just started writing below it.

After the meeting, I brought it up. She says she likes using that notebook because it gets her mind working. Like with doodling, keeping your mind engaged can sometimes help one activate their brain and concentrate on the meeting around them.

I don’t think I’ve thought about that again, until my Baron Fig Askew showed up.

The Askew has been pretty divisive around the stationery community. Between the Field Nuts group and the Erasable group, people gave their opinion instantly, and at least half of them gave an immediate “nope.” Much of the other half was all, “Ooh, this is really pretty, but unusable. It’s more of a collector’s piece.”

I think there are a few of us in a third camp — people who think, “hmm. This is interesting. I wonder what it’s like to use it.”

I’ll try to walk you all through this thought process.

Aesthetics

As the box and inside pages indicate, this is ballpoint-pen blue. It looks like someone took a Bic Cristal and scribbled it in. The fabric cover is a rich, bright blue. The bookmark is deep red as well, and together, the notebook has a superhero vibe to it. I love it.

It gets weird immediately when you open to a blank page. You see the layout, and although it emulates a piece of loose leaf paper, with blue horizontal lines and a pink vertical line to the right indicating the margin, you notice that it’s hand-drawn.

There have been a lot of questions by people who haven’t seen one in person yet. I’ll try to answer as directly as I can.

Are ALL the pages hand-drawn?
Yes. Some are more straight and consistent than others, but no page is truly even.

I see photos of pages that are just scribbled. What’s up with that?
Baron Fig says about 10% of the pages are “unruly”, meaning that they’re a lot wackier than the 90% of “ruly” pages. Sometimes the unruliness manifests in the form of a scribble, or else all the lines are stacked on top of each other, or something else entirely.

Like this one:

Or this one:

Or this one:

I won’t spoil all the views; there are 192 pages after all, but there should be 15-20 “unruly” pages in there.

“Unruly.” I just got that pun.

Is each, individual notebook hand-drawn and unique?
I don’t think so. Debbie Millman, the artist, hand-drew a notebook’s ruling, and then Baron Fig duplicated that same spread in all their Askew notebooks. I did an Instagram live unboxing video, and Michael Hagan from Lead Fast confirmed it — his copy had identical spreads.

How am I supposed to use those “unruly” pages?
That’s up to you! Me, part of the usefulness of those pages is to think outside the box and figure out how you’re going to use it. Also: you could just leave it blank and ponder it.

Performance

Using this notebook is an interesting experience. Generally, the slightly crooked lines don’t bother me — without lines, my writing is slightly crooked anyway.

I do actually appreciate that, in most spreads, the lines are wider than those in a typical Confidant. I have a bit more room to write bigger.

The left margin is also an interesting addition. Typically, Confidants and other similar notebooks don’t have a margin divider like this. And I never really paid much attention to it before, but I didn’t consistently keep my own margin. This prompts me to keep a comfortable distance between my writing and the edge of the notebook, which can be a visual relief.

Quality

I’m not sure how the artist originally drew the lines, and how Baron Fig reproduced them for their notebook. But man, they did a good job. I was expecting slightly pixelated digital art, but the lines, for as crooked and hand-drawn as they are, were crisp and clear.

I recognize that this notebook is not for everyone. Some people need a consistent, straight line to plot their output. And I can respect that.

Joey and Adam took a big chance with this book. It’s not just the same old Confidant, but with a different colored cover and bookmark. They truly reinvented it. For me, it was effective — like with doodling, following the slightly askew grids helped me open my mind up to what I was listening to or thinking about.

Joey and Adam: if you’re reading this, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, GUYS. I want a Confidant with this exact exterior look; this rich, Bic Cristal-blue fabric cover and scarlet-red bookmark, but with regular lining. That would be such a beautiful addition to my (ever-growing) Confidant stash.

In the meantime, though, this is perhaps not my every day notebook. I know I’ll pull it out when I need to take notes but don’t mind being a bit playful. The unique whimsy of the crooked lines and the surprise of the “unruly” pages put me in a mindset that I definitely don’t dislike.

(This notebook was given to me at no charge by Baron Fig for review purposes.)