A Gratuitously Nice Notebook

The best way to encourage the formulation of ideas worth writing down? Give them a proper home. (Note: Also applies to phone numbers.)

Illustration: Mickey DuzyjPart of your duty as a man of the world is to be prepared. That doesn’t simply mean to have the foresight to carry a flask when one might be called for. You must also be ready for the unexpected: you’ll want to remember the year of a good wine, the name of a shirt maker in Florence, or the number of that girl. Do you want to keep these vital details on the back of a receipt, paper napkin, or even your Blackberry? No, you do not. You require a notebook. And not a spiral Mead that belongs to a third-grader, but something nice, befitting your place in the world. You may even set down your wisdom in a fountain pen. You won’t regret it.

First, let’s agree on this: keep a notebook with you at all times. Even if you’re not fashioning a screenplay based on your last road trip in Montana, you find details on important matters when you least expect to. Who knows when you’ll receive counsel about that great bar in Austin, band from London, or short story by Rivka Galchen?

Yes, a Moleskine is perfectly satisfactory (it was good enough for Bruce Chatwin), but perhaps it’s time to aim higher. Consider the Panama notebook from Smythson or anything from the beautiful stationery stores you find throughout France and Italy (and what better excuse to travel through France and Italy then to find the perfect notebook nobody stateside will have?). The harder to find and more exotic, the better. If you pull it out and your best mate asks what you’re doing with that, just tell him that you keep it to write down the brilliant witticisms your friends frequently make. That’s an added benefit: It will inspire your friends to bring their best material.

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