* Prices may differ from that shown
My obsession with Moleskine products means I'm always on the lookout for their products and if there's a Moleskine option available, I'll probably have bought it. Last year I bought their extra small format page-a-day diary in bright pink. It looked great but proved to be a rather hard diary to actually live with. I disliked how thick it was, found it quite hard to navigate due to the page per day format and at the end of the year there were a lot of blank pages that made it feel like a bit of a waste. This year I decided to try out two new formats of the Moleskine diary - the first was the concertina pull-out 'planner' and the second is this product which is listed as the 'Moleskine 2012 Red Pocket Weekly Notebook 12 Month Hard'.
I've been using the diary for over 4 months now so it makes more sense to review it now perhaps than when it was 'fresh'. 4 months on I couldn't even tell you where the planner diary has gone - it proved to be a nuisance to use and was soon abandoned but this one is doing brilliantly. It's also perhaps relevant given that the 18 month diaries of the same kind are already in the shops - so if you want a diary like this you can get one that starts in July and runs to the end of 2013. If you prefer a larger format than the pocket version, other sizes are also available. The price on Amazon today is around £9.40 for both the hard and soft cover formats and larger formats are also available.
~What's in a Name?~
Moleskine 2012 Red Pocket Weekly Notebook 12 Month Hard is a pretty descriptive name for a product - those folks at Moleskine don't go in for flashy names, they just tell you exactly what it is.
It's a 12 month diary for 2012 - they have 18 month versions for those who like a longer period in their pocket - but 12 months is much more standard and it's enough for me. If I bought one with 18 months I'd be high and dry when it came time to replace it. It's red - they do them in just red and black as far as I know which is a little annoying since it looks almost exactly the same as the Moleskine notebook I'm currently using for my travel notes. Sooner or later it's inevitable I'll get them muddled up - in fact I can only tell them apart because the ribbon marker in the notebook is frayed. 'Pocket' means it's in their most popular small size of 5.5 by 3.5 inches (or 14 by 9 cm) which does of course fit neatly in many pockets. It's currently 1 cm thick - I say 'currently' because I don't doubt that as the year goes on it may get slightly thicker when it's had a bit of abuse. 'Hard' means it's a hard cover - but I don't doubt you'd worked that out. I do quite like their softer products but a diary has to get you through the year so it's better to go with a hard cover and the quality of the materials means that at the end of the year (if other notebooks are anything to go by) it's going to look as good as it does now.
The important two words which distinguish this diary from most and from the others in the Moleskine range are 'Weekly Notebook'. You'll maybe have noticed that they don't even call it a diary - it's a weekly notebook. What this means is that you get a week to each view - but that whole week is on the left side of the page. The right side is a narrow lined page. This means that your appointments can all be seen a week at a time but you've got space to keep notes, add 'to do's, write your shopping list, compose poetry or do whatever it is that you want to.
Once you slip off the red stretchy elastic strap that keeps everything neatly closed, there's plenty to look at inside. Like most Moleskines there's a panel for your name and address. Use it - you'll be grateful if you lose it and someone phots it back to you. This has happened to me and I'm actually thinking in future I'll keep a few postage stamps in the back pocket so that anyone who finds one of my notebooks can mail it back to me. Talking of pockets, the pocket in the back of the diary is another signature feature of all the hard backed and most of the larger soft-backed notebooks. These pockets are strong and very useful for keeping stamps, tickets, receipts of anything else that you might otherwise tuck into a diary and then lose. The weekly notebook comes with several sheets of colourful stickers. Many of the Moleskines have stickers but if I'm honest, I've never really got the hang of using them. It takes a higher degree of OCD behaviour to sit and stick things in your diary. I'm just not that disciplined. Also there's a small notebook tucked in the flap though I have to admit that I wasn't sure what its purpose was supposed to be. I'm guessing that it's probably for phone numbers or addresses but I quite like that Moleskine aren't telling me what to do with it so I took inspiration from the stickers and am using the thickest section for my book lists, two more for restaurants and hotels, one of the blank stickers for my flight records and a couple are still blank until I work out what I need them for.
~Enough about the covers - what's on the pages?~
A page for personal data kicks off the contents. I am often a bit wary about filling these in. I've already put my name and address inside so why do they want it again? I know my own business address - I don't need it in my diary. The Alzheimer's hasn't set in yet. I do have my GP's name and number, my blood group and my allergies - I figure if I get knocked down in the street and rushed to hospital, that sort of stuff might come in handy. There's space for vaccinations - I'm not interested - passport details (which are very useful) but I'm not filling in car registrations and drivers license info as I really don't see the point.
There's a 2012 year view with week numbers which is always handy since my German colleagues doggedly insist on talking week numbers and I never know when they mean. Oddly the year is presented with 8 months on the left and 4 on the right which is irritatingly unbalanced. Next you get more useful 'month to a page' pages which are quite handy since you can see 2 months at a time which is good for planning. International holidays come next, then a year view for 2013, and two sheets for 'travel planning' - clearly they expect less travel than I do. There's a map with time zones, pages with dialling codes and other data, then conversion factors and international clothes sizes and finally you actually reach the diary.
Opposite the first diary page is a blank page with a scale showing inches and centimetres which is sheer genius. How often do you with you had a ruler with you? Well now you can have one with you whenever you've got your diary.
The diary starts on Monday 26th December and the weeks all run from Monday to Sunday with Saturday and Sunday sharing a space. Bank holidays are shown for all the countries where appropriate. As I already mentioned, the left hand page has the diary and the right hand page is lined paper. In a perfect world, I'd rather have plain paper as I don't generally like lines, especially when they're ruled as narrow as these. My handwriting doesn't fit well. After the weeks are finished, you'll find half a dozen lined pages at the back and then that's your lot. I'm struggling to think of anything that's missing from the diary other than address book pages which I'm not going to miss as I never use them.
The space given to each day in the diary is only two and a half inches so this isn't a diary for someone who plans out their day in half hour slots. If like me you use an electronic diary with reminders at work, you don't need to go into that much detail - the diary is much more about making sure I know which country I'm in and which days are already accounted for. If you don't have too many appointments or use an Outlook diary or similar, especially one synchronised to a smart phone, this diary should do all that you need.
With nearly five months of use I'm very happy with my diary. The Notebook format suits me very well and most weeks you'll find plenty of what I thought was important to record on the facing page. I do wish it were available in more colours because as I predicted I do get it muddled with my standard red notebooks. I like the little notebook in the back, I can live without the silly sticky labels and I know I'm going to need to concentrate on keeping my writing small and relatively neat or things will soon get out of control.
There is no perfect diary - every one is a mix of valuable features and inevitable compromises - but I am happy to say that I seem to have found one that works for me. As diaries become rarer and people increasingly rely on their phones and computers to remind them of things, this small format is perfect for what I need.
The full quote for those who recognised the source of the title is:
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."
- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2
This is my second Moleskine weekly view diary I have had both the black (18 month - Jul -Dec following year) and the red (12 month - Jan-Dec). The diary size is approximately A5.
Lookswise the black was my favourite, the red doesn't show too well in the picture but it is very vivid, think fire truck, on the upside I find this one out of the bottom of my bag a lot quicker. This is a hardback, it is not that hard, with some flexibility in the cover. The cover itself is very tactile in a leatherette finish, which is surprisingly hardwearing. My completed 18 months only saw damage in the form of one dent and three-small less than 5mm wearing through of the cover on the corners. This is pretty good as it was thrown around in the bottom of a handbag everyday for 18 months. There is also a colour co-ordinated elastic band to keep your moleskine closed. Along with an attached ribbon bookmark in brown (black) and red (red), long enough to help find the page, but are prone to fraying.
The paper is top quality, easy to write on and thick, my fountain pen never bled through, and writing in biro would barely change the surface of the page underneath.
The layout includes a spot for your personal details - always useful, followed by a calendar and then a month to month view on the following pages. There is also a map of the world with time zones, and a page of commonly required international dial codes, useful for business. There is also the standard conversion tables for clothes sizes, weights and areas, as well as a timetable page for students to fill in.
The main meat of the diary consists of a weeks view on the left hand page, with approximately 5 lines worth of space per day, this halved for the weekend days, and a free lined page on the right hand page to write notes. This is the stand out feature for this diary, loads of room to write notes about assignments, project deadlines and travel references that you may need in that week. If you run out of room there is also around ten, double page worth of note paper at the back.
At the back, both diaries have a little pocket, that can easily be used to store important bits of paper you pick up throught the week, business cards, receipts, precriptions etc. The black diary has a dedicated address book area at the back with plain lined note paper. In the red there is stickers if you choose to use some of the back pages of your notebook to convert to an address book. An added bonus of the red diary only is the vast pack of bright stickers that can be used to mark birthdays and dental appointments as well as when the dreaded bills are due.
The diaries retail around the £15 mark with the 18 month being pricier. Available in Waterstones book stores, online and in department stores. I think this is a price worth paying for a professional looking practical diary (black). Its virtually unbranding, save the word Moleskine embossed at the back makes you and it look expensive and important, more for the black than the red.
Please Moleskine can you bring the 12 month out in other colour versions. I am having to consider buying 18 month diary every 12 months to fulfill my needs. :(
The medium black book does not scream class and quality, but says it in such a calm and controlled manner, that no-one dares argue with it.