The 10 Best Journals

Updated June 15, 2018 by Chase Brush

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We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Even in today's technology-driven age, there are some things that are best committed to paper, rather than a computer. These quality journals provide the perfect portable repository for writing of any kind, from your daily diary to poems and song lyrics to shopping lists, or even a record of your goals and bucket list items to keep you motivated. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best journal on Amazon.

10. Samsill Antique Classic

Some people will find the Samsill Antique Classic charming and attractive, while others will think it a bit dated and perhaps on the geeky side. But everyone will agree that its 100 sheets of tanned, parchment style paper are robust and durable.
  • includes an attached bookmark
  • thick and sturdy cover
  • cover material looks cheap up close
Brand Samsill
Model 22350
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. BestSelf The Self Journal

This BestSelf The Self Journal is a daily planner that is specifically designed to help you set and meet goals for every day, week, month, and year of your life. Properly utilized, it can greatly improve your productivity and time management skills.
  • comes in three muted colors
  • packed with inspirational quotes
  • a little pricier than other options
Brand BestSelf Co.
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. RusticTown Vintage Handmade Diary

This leather-bound RusticTown Vintage Handmade Diary has an Old World charm the poet will love and a timeless simplicity the professional will appreciate. You could use it to record lines of verse or to keep your meeting schedule, or to do both.
  • crisp unlined paper
  • certified fair trade product
  • paper too thin for some
Brand RusticTown
Model LJ00055MH
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. SamutNote Handmade NoteBook

When you order the SamutNote Handmade NoteBook, you will in fact get a three-pack of these slender, handy volumes. They are just 5.6 by 3.6 inches, a perfect size for the average pocket, yet each one has 200 pages ready for your next shopping list or invention idea.
  • flexible fabric covers
  • eye-friendly paper color
  • too small for many purposes
Brand SamutNote
Model fabric-venice-brown-a6
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover A5

This Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover A5 should be the go-to choice for the engineer or industrial designer who prizes order and structure. It has a table of contents page, stickers for labeling and archiving purposes, and eight perforated, removable pages.
  • sturdy acid-free paper
  • thread-bound design opens flat
  • some inks smear on pages
Brand Kikkerland
Model LBL12
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Moonster Leather Journal Travel Diary

This handsome Moonster Leather Journal Travel Diary is the perfect place to jot down song lyrics or poetry or to record your thoughts and reflections on the day each night. It's made from supple Indian water buffalo leather and eco-friendly recycled cotton rag paper.
  • hand cut asymmetric flap and cover
  • stitched coptic leather binding
  • style may be too whimsical for some
Brand Moonster
Model pending
Weight 14.7 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. Ghost Paper Notebook

Combining the freedom of the blank page with the structure of a lined one, the Ghost Paper Notebook offers a writing experience like no other. Ninety-six subtly embossed, unmarked sheets help guide your pen while leaving your lines looking neat and clean.
  • elastic pen loop
  • animal-friendly faux leather cover
  • large spacious sheets
Brand Ghost
Model pending
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Field Notes Kraft

Coming in a pack of three, the Field Notes Kraft are ideal for the traveler who needs a compact, ergonomic solution for recording brief observations and thoughts on the go. They're small enough to fit snugly in a front shirt or back pants pocket.
  • 48 pages per book
  • flexible stapled binding
  • made in the united states
Brand Field Notes
Model FN-02
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Moleskine Classic Collection

It's hard to match a Moleskine Classic Collection in terms of durability, functionality, and elegant simplicity. These trusted notebooks are designed to last for years, whether they usually rest in a drawer or always come along in your backpack or pocket.
  • strong elastic closure
  • cardboard-bound cover
  • unobtrusive black color
Brand Moleskine
Model S01003
Weight 5 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Rhodia Black Webnotebook

You may know them by their iconic orange-covered writing pads, but the makers behind the Rhodia Black Webnotebook are known for quality construction, no matter the color. This model features an Italian leatherette cover and 96 sheets of ivory-white, grey dot paper inside.
  • embossed logo on cover
  • inner expandable pocket
  • great for bullet journaling
Brand Rhodia
Model 118769C
Weight 13.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

The Great Miracle Of A Book

A journal is an intensely personal thing. I know I spent the bulk of my youth scribbling into my journal poems and song lyrics that would have been embarrassing to reveal at the time, and that could probably end my career as a writer if they surfaced today. Sure, if you have old journals with sensitive information in them you could just recycle them and be done with it, but this gets us back to the personal nature of the books. They contain more than just words, and ink, and information; they're like time capsules, like living things by the time they're full of our spirit.

In a purely physical sense, they're pretty simple. Bound books have become a part of the quotidian landscape, something that I hesitate to say we take for granted because that even seems like it gives our regard for their novelty too much credit. We barely see books for what they are anymore.

In truth, their construction is nothing short of miraculous: paper manufactured from felled trees that were ground to a pulp and refined to smoothly receive and hold ink, bindings of string or glue masterfully worked into the edges of the pages and the cover, and the cover itself, hewn and processed from the flesh of animals or the pulp of the same trees torn down for the pages within.

For all their perfection, even after the long journey of their manufacturing, a journal lies incomplete on the shelf until you put your pen to it. For those purposes, different journals offer you different layout options like ruled or unlined, refined or raw pages, and more.

Put Yourself In The Pages

My father was a bridge engineer for most of his professional life, so even though I pursued writing and the arts as opposed to mathematics, I inherited his affinity for graph paper, and I can barely write in any journal or notebook without it. My handwriting's bad enough that if I decided I wanted to go back to regular, ruled journals, it'd likely be illegible even to myself.

Your writing style will go far in determining the style of journal that suits you. Some of the journals on our list contain features for the more right-brained writers among us, like tables of contents that you can fill out yourself for better organization or entire systems of goal-setting and achievement guidelines.

I've always romanticized poets and writers of the romantic and early transcendentalist movements, writers whose works felt raw and unencumbered by the trappings of their society's bourgeois ideals. These were artists who wrote in fields, in the rain, and probably naked. Well, in my hyperbolic mind they did.

As such, I was also always drawn to leather-bound journals with loose leather and string ties. There's a rustic quality to this kind of notebook that's irresistible to the romantic writer. The pages in these kinds of journals are usually unrefined, however, so they can make sloppy handwriting even worse. Their bindings are also usually a little less secure than the more mechanically-produced journals on our list, so their long-term durability might be questionable.

The more refined journals on our list offer you a much more professional appearance, which can be vital if you want to keep your journal with you in an office setting or some other professional sphere. These also tend to have much more secure elastic closures to them, so you can tote small papers in your journals without fear of them slipping out somewhere along the way.

The End Of The World Made Text

If you surveyed baby boomers and members of Generation X about the generations coming up after theirs, you'd hear a lot about the dehumanization of mankind, about the internet and cell phones spelling the inevitable demise of the species, as we slowly but surely cordon ourselves off into smaller and smaller worlds until there's nothing left but divided individuals communicating electronically through avatars.

It turns out that this kind of doomsday thinking is nothing new, and that it reaches back at least as far as the development of the written language. When the written word began to gain popularity in Greece, Socrates was out and about, philosophizing against it among so many other things. He warned that the written word would isolate us, and that it would vastly reduce the human capacity for memory recall and logical thought. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, Plato had a handful of journals at his disposal that he used to record all of the great thinker's works and thoughts, creating an entire branch of philosophy that might not have survived through to today without being written down.

The earliest bound books appeared in the first century CE, and could have been considered journals of sorts in that they were all hand-written. For the next 1,400 years, book binding took place mainly at monasteries among monks transcribing religious texts. It wasn't until the printing press arrived in 1447 that bound books contained printed pages, which eventually led to more refined techniques for book binding and the higher quality journals we are free to enjoy.

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Last updated on June 15, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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