The writer’s trustiest companion is his notebook. Over the years I’ve become something of an aficionado, and when I occasionally stray from the tried-and-trusted path, I usually regret it. Like this seemingly attractive £2 sale bargain from Sainsbury’s (top), which turned out to have a really bad case of bleed through and was abandoned after just six pages.

Bleedin’ ’eck… the ink went straight through
My preference is for an A5 hardcover (orange if possible) with 90gsm gridded paper. Quo Vadis Havanas are particularly durable and satisfying to write on, and I’m also partial to Rhodia Webnotebooks, which come in a really great dot gridded option. As a work essential that you’re going to live with for six or so months, it’s worth plumping for something with decent quality paper that can take all kinds of inks and abuse. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Moleskine notebooks. The best thing about them is the slightly curious name. They seem poorly constructed, and the paper has a grainy quality which pulls the ink away from your writing. Besides, they are a bit too ubiquitous for my liking.  
Favoured by Paul Smith, no less
The boast that Moleskines are the “legendary notebook of Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin” is a little misleading too. Chatwin always stocked up before his travels at a stationers in Paris. They were made by a family-run business in Tours, which discontinued production when the owner died in the mid-1980s. In 1997, an Italian company called Modo & Modo decided to revive the design based on Chatwin’s description. So actually they are kind of homage rather than the real McCoy. Something they keep conveniently quiet about.

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