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Even the best writing apps for your smartphone or laptop can’t compete with the simplicity of jotting down notes on a good old-fashioned notebook. The only problem is that it’s all too easy to forget your notebook when you need it. That’s why it’s worth investing in a notebook that you’ll actually be excited to use, and there’s nothing more sophisticated or satisfying than writing in a leather notebook.
A beautiful leather notebook is one that you’ll want to take everywhere you go. Leather notebooks will elevate everyday writing, and even doodles will feel important. And if you like to write on the go, a leather notebook will be better able to withstand the elements than a paper or cardboard notebook. If you’re unsure what to use your notebook for, leather notebooks are great for work meetings, classes, journaling or just jotting down ideas. The key is to just open it and start using it.
The best leather notebooks are a great idea for graduation gifts, and they make professional gifts for bosses or coworkers whose interests you might not know that well. And of course, it’s worth treating yourself to a sophisticated leather notebook for everyday use.
What To Consider Before Buying a Leather Notebook
A quality leather notebook is unsurprisingly more expensive than the average notebook you can pick up at the average office supply store. That means you might have reservations about filling it up and then being unable to use it. In that case, one alternative to a leather notebook is a leather notebook cover. These hold your regular notebook, whether that’s a soft-cover Rhodia or a spiral notebook. These are also called portfolios, and often include other pockets for carrying pens, sticky notes and other desk items. The best part of investing in a leather notebook cover is that you can use and reuse them until they fall apart (which will take a long, long time); simply replace the paper notebook, and keep using your leather cover.
The main drawback of a notebook cover is that they take up more space, and you may not be able to find a cover for the notebook you like (for example, Moleskine’s notebooks are not the standard A5 size). In that case, you may want to spring for a leather-bound notebook, even if it can’t be reused. And since the average notebook has at least 150 pages, a good quality leather notebook should last a long time with average use.
Another option is to invest in a leatherette notebook, faux leather notebook or vegan leather notebook. Whatever you want to call it, these synthetic leather notebooks are a cheaper option, and a good pick for anyone who doesn’t want an animal product. However, they’re likely to be less durable than genuine leather.
Check out some of our top picks for leather notebooks, including genuine leather notebooks, leather notebook covers and portfolios and faux leather notebooks.
1. Leatherology Medium Snap Journal with Pen Loop
Leatherology is one of the best online shops for genuine leather goods that are stylish and well-priced, including this great reusable leather notebook. It comes with a spiral notebook made specifically for this journal, and you can buy refills from Leatherology’s website. The pages are a soft ivory color for a comfortable writing experience. The leather notebook has a snap closure to keep the contents secure, which can also be used to hold a pen. Best of all, there are a ton of colors to choose from, and you can get the cover personalized.
2. Moleskine Classic Notebook
If you’re looking for an upgraded version of the iconic Moleskine notebook, pick up this option, which features a genuine Italian leather cover. Like all hardcover Moleskine notebooks, it features a handy pocket in the back for storing loose papers and notes, a ribbon to save your page and an elastic strap to hold your notebook closed. Several colors are available, including this eye-catching yellow.
Read More: Blackwing Pencils Are the New Moleskin
3. Papier Le Moderne Notebook
Okay, it’s true that all leather notebooks are handsome, but we’re really swooning over the Le Moderne notebook from Papier. This upcycled leather beauty has that true timeless look you’d expect from a dictionary or thesaurus. There are 96 pages in this bad boy so we definitely suggest using these for a journal rather than a notebook, but hey, it’s your choice. You can even have your initials engraved right on the front cover. How cool is that?
4. Mark & Graham Italian Leather Journal
Mark & Graham is in the business of making fancy, personalized keepsakes and they didn’t let us down with their Italian Leather Journal.
Made from high-quality Italian leather, this leather notebook will stand the test of time and add a little class to something as simple and monotonous as taking notes. For $12, you can even add some foil debossed monogramming, adding even more of classy pop to the black or white leather notebook.
5. Bellroy Work Folio A5
Bellroy is a go-to for SPY editors when rounding up wallets and phone accessories (and as of 2022, work bags for men) and the brand makes this practical folio that’s an excellent option for A5 notebooks. It has a zipper for secure storage, meaning you can also use it for small electronics and other items. Plus, you can use it for tablets or to store cards. It’s worth noting that a notebook is not included, but it’s a great option for storing your favorite A5 notebooks and planners.
6. Leatherology Standard Padfolio
BEST FOR MEETINGS
The legal pad is an old-school writing surface, beloved by people as varied as Barack Obama and Jerry Seinfeld. This folio is designed to hold legal pads, and it includes a pad of soft white paper (which, in our humble view, beats garish yellow). You can also buy refills of the paper. The folio includes a loop for holding a pen, plus a pocket for loose pages.
7. Rhodia Goalbook Journal, A5, Dotted – Orange
BEST FAUX LEATHER
Though not as well known as Moleskine, Rhodia is one of the most iconic notebook brands. They’ve been around for over 80 years, and are notable for their distinctive logo and orange covers. If you want an upgraded version of their standard notebook, pick up this option, which has a leatherette (faux leather) cover. It’s a great option for bullet journaling or planning and goals.
8. Montblanc 146 Cross-Grain Leather Notebook
By the standard of their pens, this Montblanc notebook is positively affordable. Still, this luxurious notebook makes a great gift, or buy it for yourself and jot down only your most important thoughts. It features Montblanc’s logo on the front of the cover, and the brand’s name is at the bottom of each page.
9. Papier Dachshund Notebook
BEST FOR DOG LOVERS
This is our second leather notebook here from Papier, so it should be clear at this point that we’re huge fans. This leather notebook is an ode to your favorite wiener dog, the Dachshund. Covered in sleeping, standing and sitting wiener boys in gold, silver or rose gold, this is a great way to get dog lovers writing. The leather is completely upcycled which is totally better for the environment. Colors range from greens to apricots.
10. Smythson The Mara Collection Panama Notebook
Take your handsome leather notebook to the next level and break the bank while doing so with the gorgeous, handcrafted Panama notebook. Inspired by the Panama Agena that was invented in 1908, this baby takes us back in time to deliver us a striking lightweight feel perfect for guys on the go. To make it even that much more exquisite, this notebook is also silk-lined and embossed in crocodile-print calf leather.