I haven’t done many paper reviews, and it’s nearly three years since I’ve done a notebook specific article. So, it’s either about time, or I have so little experience it’s a waste of time to read it. You’ve been warned.
I’ve liked Life Stationery notebooks and paper since I first used them years ago. If I remember correctly, I came across it at Nanami Paper when buying a Seven Seas Writer. I’ve always had a hard time finding Life stationery from U.S. retailers. While it is more available these days, there are so many Life Stationery products that there’s little product consistency between retailers. Even before COVID, it was always a crapshoot that Life notebooks and paper would be in stock. So when the Andersons mention on their podcast that Life notebooks were back in stock, I went to their site to take a look.
I ended up ordering some stationery (paper & envelopes) along with a couple notebooks. The Noble Note wire-bound notebook was included in that order.
The bright colors caught my eye. For the Noble line of notebooks, plain paper covers are brown, lined paper covers are blue, and graph (aka section) paper is orange. Once the cover caught my eye, the size pulled me in. It was listed as 3 X 5 but, they are actually 3.15″ X 5″. That extra 0.15″ is used by the wire binding. The useable area is 3 X 5. I also like wire-bound notebooks for many uses. They take up less space, but at the expense of making it harder to write on the left side (I’m right-handed.)
Graph ruling is my least favorite type of paper. I find the grid distracting, and it can often interfere with fountain pen ink. Despite that, I picked it in this case because I liked the orange cover best, plus the description and photos indicated the grid was very light. I was not going to use this notebook for extensive writing, so there wasn’t much risk. Between the wire binding, the graph ruling, and the thin paper, I expected to only write on one side of each sheet.
The notebooks have 40 sheets. (Currently, the text on the Anderson Pens listing says 30 pages.) The cover is thick paper, with the Life brand embossed, and a printed decorative border. The specs, product number, and some Japanese text are also on the cover. The metal wire rings are black. Overall, I like the look. The notebook has held up well while traveling in my computer bag.
I really like the 85gsm ivory-colored paper, both in its look and the way it performs. (Some retailers call this cream-colored.) The coating makes it nice and smooth, although not as slick as Rhodia paper. To me, it feels similar to Tomoe River paper and has a similar dry time.
I only had bleed through with a Sharpie. This was total bleed through, with ink soaking through to the next page. The thickest fountain pen I used, with a Sailor Zoom nib, didn’t bleed through at all. Dry time was as expected, which means not fast. I do have to be careful about turning the page. If this was a larger notebook, I’d keep a piece of blotter paper in the notebook. But because this is just for checklists, I don’t bother. I just wait before turning a page.
Since the paper is thin, there is significant show-through (ghosting). Between this and the grid ruling, I only write on one side of the page. This was as expected.
How I’m Using the Life Noble Note 3 X 5 Notebook
I’ve been using the notebook to keep some checklists. The checklists are either ones that I’ll want to work through multiple times or will take me several days (or weeks) to work through.
* Posts that I still need to write for my newer pen arrivals.
* Movie series that I’m working through in order. For these, I may watch the movies again in the future, so I use the grid boxes to check off when I watched that title. I use the next column for future viewings. I may be optimistic in thinking I’ll be able to find the notebook in the coming years.
* Checklist for a current project where I also need to take short notes. (No photo for this one as the info is confidential). This makes it easier for me to find the checklist and notes as I work on the project over a few days. This is a case where I do use the facing page for notes even though there’s costing. I used a thin Japanese extra-fine nib.
I liked the Life Noble Note so much that I bought two more of the notebooks with graph ruling and another one with blank pages. The wire binding makes them useful to me, as I often like to have the notebook right next to the keyboard. Wirebound notebooks let me fold them over and have my note right against the keyboard. In this case, it also makes an already small notebook take even less desk space.
At $6 each, they aren’t the cheapest option. But, the Noble Notes are durable and have a high-quality fountain pen friendly paper.
A big two thumbs up.