Objects of Beauty, 2.

In Objects of Beauty Series, Travel by David41 Comments

8 years of Moleskine Notebooks. Ruled.

The Moleskine-style journal has been used by writers and thinkers and creative-types for a couple hundred years, and while the Italian company from which it now gets it’s popular name is relatively new, notebooks like this have been around for ages, and used by artists like Wilde, Hemingway, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Matisse, if the Moleskine publicity is to be believed. Regardless, these classic little books with the elastic closure and the pocket in the back, have been my constant companions for years, losing only one to the sands of the Sahara in Tunisia when a reprobate camel tossed me from my mount.I’ve tried using other brands of the same style notebooks, but the paper in the Moleskine books seems to hold ink better and has a nicer texture than others.

These books have checklists (with little boxes for checking), ideas (little light-bulbs), simple drawings, phone numbers, names of restaurants, notes on foreign languages, reminders, quotes, website URLs, and personal thoughts ranging from the absurd to the (self-assessed) profound. By the time I retire them the spines are splitting and the back pocket is full of business cards and tickets stubs, old boarding passes, and errant passport/visa photos. The covers have the same teeth marks, from putting into my mouth while I search for my pen. And while each one starts the same as every other of the hundreds of thousands of Moleskine notebooks made each year, by the time they are filled they are each a thing of beauty, full of stories.

I carry these literally everywhere I go. My current notebook is covered with a removable leather cover I had made in Venice two years ago by a woman we simply refer to in hushed tones as “the leather lady.” To be fair, she was more beautiful than her handiwork was good, but a little crazy-glue now and then keeps the cover in one piece, journal after journal. The pen is a Mont Blanc, itself a thing of beauty, that I bought myself to celebrate the release of my third book, Vision & Voice, and an admission that maybe I was a writer after-all and not just the imposter I felt like for so long.



  1. Don’t why I like this photo so much.
    But I enjoy seeing it again.
    Thank you for always having something
    interesting to learn.

  2. Hi David, just bought my first iPhone, read the ebook about it and yes, this is a new way of learning proces regarding photography. Also discovering a lot of new apps and loaded (free) the Moleskine app. Have you seen it? You can make notes , include photos in it and/ but yes you miss the feel, touch and smell of a real one but it is anice app.
    Gr Stefan

  3. I have several Moleskins that I love–and can’t write in. They’re just too significant. I’ve tried lined, unlined, large, small, and find myself head over heels in love with a 70-sheet yellow-covered spiral-bound wide-ruled notebook from Walgreens that I can’t stop writing in. And as I type this I realize I could/can do collages to fit each Moleskin, which lets me invite them back to the party and still keep writing in my totally unexpected new love. David, thank you for living your life so richly and for sharing it with us.

  4. The softcover Moleskin with my pen is always in my cargo shorts or shoved in my camera bag. I have so many little nuggets of information that they are worth their weight in gold. I’m inspired to dig all of mine out of the drawer and read through them and photograph them

  5. to KURT…about your choice of soft vs hard cover Moleskine…I’ve used both. The soft does feel better but under typical usage it fell apart faster…as in pages falling out and bindings coming undone…typical usage as in back pocket, bike riding, shoved in a pack..etc. Cost is the same. I’ve stayed with the hard cover now for a long time without regrets. Oh and it also offers a more stable writing surface when you get toward the end of the notebook.

  6. Love the Moleskin and the Pen. It’s very refreshing to see/hear someone celebrating beauty in everyday things. I am one of those who tries to take very good care of those things that serve me well over time…

  7. David, I just want to urge you to be careful with that MontBlanc-pen. They are beatuiful to write with, and to look at. I also had one of the same series, given to me by my parents as a birthday present. This spring it fell from the table onto the floor and broke in 2. A very costly repair waits… 🙁

  8. I love my Moleskines (large, ruled, softcover)! Debating on whether or not to try a hardcover version. I like that the softcover notebooks are flexible and fit into my back pocket. Get mine at B&N.

  9. @Joel Zak: Give the Uniball JetStream roller a try. Works great with Moleskine paper. Some like the Waterman rollers as well; the Pilot G6 refills happen to fit Waterman rollers if you like the feel better, and they also work well on Moleskine paper. Have to admit, my favorite fountain pen, the MontBlanc Traveller, medium nib, is not ideal on this paper – you have to write larger with a fountain pen on this type of paper. But then, the medium nib requires that as well.

  10. Yup, bunny trails…but good trails…I like Dianne’s post for pens. Personally I use a Waterman Carene ballpoint because after trying (really, really wanting!) the fountain pen (also Waterman) and gel ink to work (love the feel) the Moleskine paper absorbs too much to render fine detail. Fountain/gel work beautifully for drawing but for fine, detail writing a ballpoint seems to work best on the paper…UNLESS some erudite and experienced individual has a tried and true alternative. Please tell.

  11. Am loving this series. Moleskines are absolutely wonderful. When it comes to ideas, journals, notes, and other such things, I am all analog. I adore the process of putting ink onto paper. All the better when it’s quality paper such as in the Moleskine. I’m also quite particular about the pens I use with it. I don’t have a Mont Blanc (yet), but I order from Jet Pens so I can have exactly what I want.

  12. Oh! My favorite part is the line about the teeth marks. Well done!

  13. Its amazing how quality items, and items of beauty attract. After reading a number of the above posts I have now bought a notebook & a Passion Book from Moleskin via Amazon.

    The Passion Books allow you to comment / star / rate your days etc.

    I think I might start to make a journal of my photography, a private one (will share it when asked), but one which allows me to reflect on my progress, and set some objectives. I think having some objectives helps you to focus, perhaps when energy levels are low. Thanks for your posts, and the idea David. I may make this a reason to run a series of blog posts through the year, lets see what happens… http://www.theimagingblog.com

  14. Hi David, Love your “objects of beauty” today. I, too, have a lifetime collection of journals, although mine are all different types and designs. There is something so elegant about your stack of classic Moleskines. It led me to check out their site, which led me to discover a product of theirs which I think is priceless and I may just buy it. “Moleskine Analog SMS Texting Set” 😉 Janine http://www.moleskine.com/about_us/news/hacked2012_sms.php

  15. For the budget-minded person in Canada, Superstore / Lowblaws / Dominion sells an inexpensive knock-off that does the trick for me.

  16. Author

    Thanks, Blake. I’ve got a couple Saddleback pieces in this series already photographed, but my current cover has too much story to let it go just yet.

  17. Author

    Isaiah – Good eye. A little focus-stacking in Photoshop because I wanted to play with it. No particular reason.

    Congrats, Valerie!! I am excited for you. You’ve chosen a nice way to celebrate. Perhaps a bottle of wine as well? 🙂

  18. Sorry to go off topic here but the focus in this image is tripping me out. Did you shoot this with a TS lens, blur in post, or am I just crazy?

  19. I have also used Moleskine ruled notebooks for many years. If the binding starts to fail or the back pocket tears, I use black gaff tape to make repairs. Even in this age of technology, the Moleskine notebook is my go to device to write notes, ideas and sketches (and it doesn’t require batteries).

  20. …and since I opened a second workshop the following week, I’ll treat myself to a Mont Blanc pen once that one is full too 😉

  21. Hi David,
    Just filled my Paris photo workshop and to celebrate I am going to buy this very object of beauty 🙂
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  22. you can get them at Target. I swear! Because I laughed when I passed them after Jeffrey and David were talking about how fabulous moleskin notebooks are. And then I was thinking about moleskin….ewwww….

  23. It’s nice to see people still making “unplugged” notes. My – also Moleskine – notebook has also some pictures inserted between the pages. Would be even better to have the chance of putting them there on the go. Maybe I’ll get the Pogo Printer after all?

  24. Pingback: Objects of Beauty, 2. « National-Express2011

  25. i am loving this series. i was thinking about the things that i take with me as i move through the world recently and the idea of documenting them… youve beaten me to it 🙂

    i have a mont blanc pen too. mine was a gift to myself after i bought our fifth investment property. i am also a fan of the moleskine and have two in my bag – one for creative ideas, one for general notes.

  26. I love this series! Notebooks are indeed a thing of beauty. I, myself prefer Field Notes Brand notebooks, but that’s just because they suit my style a little better. They fit perfectly in my back pocket. Moleskines are indeed great as well.

  27. I used to use these for notes and to-do lists for years. I’ve finally decided to go paperless and am now using Noteshelf on my iPad for the same purpose. Works just the same for me. But still not comfortable with the fat-headed pens you have to use.

  28. Author

    Karolyn – Best bet is a book store. In Canada you can get them at Chapters/Indigo. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get them at B&N or Borders. Amazon.com will also have them. There are several sizes, some with lined paper, some with grids, some blank.

  29. Can you share where you purchase
    these moleskiin journal , notebooks?
    I have a special person in mind that i
    think would enjoy have one of these
    Always look forward to your blog. Learn
    interesting things .

  30. I have been thinking for awhile of a project showing possessions and tools that say “jeanne”, that sees the beauty and inspiration in everyday things. You have given me the push to get on with it! Thanks!

  31. Please tell me you also use a fountain pen! I use whatever journal/notebook/composition happens to find its way into my hands, but I always gravitate toward writing with a simple (inexpensive) Schaffer fountain pen with a calligraphy nib (fine point preferred). I also use regular fine point Shaffer fountain pens. I feel like a writer when I do that!

  32. David…agreed…Moleskine has been with me for many years as THE only ‘seeing’ accessory in the bag. And when ideas get thin, my goto source for new inspirations…concepts sequestered away after hurriedly written during storm-filled nights in a tent somewhere…or in the middle of a traffic jam…or 3am.

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