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Journaling has been studied as an art form in and of itself, so it’s no wonder many modern diarists are drawn to leather journals. These notebooks are arguably more attractive than, say, a spiral collegiate notebook, and there’s something about the leather binding that suggests it will outlive you. Scholars of the future might not consider your personal journals precious historical documents. But then again, they might.
What to Look for In a Leather Notebook
By definition, a journal is personal, which means that we can’t prescribe the best look and feel of the book for you. Quality, however, is more quantifiable, and there are a few indicators of a quality product you should take note of (no pun intended).
Leather: Whether genuine or vegan, high-quality leather should feel soft and supple, not stiff. Real leather is thicker and generally much more durable than its pleather counterparts. If you do choose to purchase vegan leather, we advise doing a little research into the chemical process, as vegan leather has been criticized for its negative impact on the economy.
Paper: The paper sheets in a good journal should be a great deal thicker than what you’d find in a spiral-bound notebook, for example. Thicker paper will prevent the ink from your pen from bleeding through to the other side, and will better withstand everyday mishaps like spilled coffee or long journeys in the bottom of your book bag. Other paper considerations, including color, or lined vs. unlined, are personal choices. We’ll only say that the blankness of an unlined page offers a range of possibilities from writing to doodling to diagramming.
Refillable: Eventually, if you’re doing it right, you’re going to run out of sheets in your journal. At this point you can purchase a replacement notebook or, if your current journal allows, replace the existing pages with fresh ones. Some notebooks make refilling pages easy, others are possible with a little creative gluing and finagling, and others do not allow for this at all.
1. Leather Journal Writing Notebook
This journal’s naturally-tanned leather is notable for its softness as well as its earthy scent, which we think makes it feel a bit special. People also note the quality of the paper, which is almost luxuriously thick and pleasurably smooth to write on without the ink bleeding through the page. Design-wise, the wrap enclosure feels retro in a Thoreau kind of way without overdoing it.
2. Genuine Leather Bound Daily Notepad
We love the quality of the leather on this notebook as well as the thick, lined paper, which is great for note-taking. The journal comes with a pen included, though it’s really just a basic pen rather than a standout when it comes to writing instruments. More useful are the pages on this notebook, which can be refilled so you can continue to use it for years.
3. Leather Journal With Semi-Precious Stone & Buckle
This journal is made from naturally-dyed leather, which is then hand-embossed for a delightful, Victorian-style design. Inside, find recycled cotton paper, which is both tree-free (I.e. no new trees were cut down to produce) and acid-free. We love the sustainability of the notebook’s construction, but to be honest the first thing we noticed was the antique design, including the distinctive stone on the cover and locking clasp.
The semi-precious stone and brass clasp make this journal a great choice as a diary, address book or recipe book. Due to the handmade nature of the journal, no two units will be exactly alike, giving you a true one of a kind piece.
4. Mountains Writing Journal by SohoSpark
If you’re not a fan of real leather, the faux leather binding on this book is notably soft and flexible and looks just like the real thing. We are also big fans of the designs embossed on the cover, which trend thematically in a Game of Thrones-style direction we can’t be mad at. The paper, which is lined, is also refillable, allowing you enough room to finish the final A Song of Ice and Fire yourself if you’re so inclined.
This is a classic folding notebook design, and it’s great for travel or for people who need to take notes on the go without worrying about damaging real leather. The reinforced stitching along the edges ensures that this journal lasts for years to come.