A Review of the Levenger Soul Skin for Moleskine

Anyone who knows me knows my love of office products. I truly picked the best of all possible careers, because instead of worrying about shoes and clothes and makeup, I get to read the Levenger catalogue, read the Quo Vadis blog, surf The Daily Planner, collect pens, finger the finest Clairefontaine notebooks, and channel my inner Hemingway in my Moleskine. I read blogs about products and pens, have an insatiable curiosity about what other authors use… I’m hopelessly addicted.

Right now, I’m using a Clairefontaine notebook as my workbook for the novel I’m working on. That’s it right there.  

To my right is my brand new Soul Skin for Moleskine, from Levenger. (A little worse for wear - you'll see why below)

Last but not least, by brand new Lamy fountain pen.

Excellent products, all.

But this post is a shoutout to Levenger. I am a firm believer in writers having the best tools at their disposal. If you’re a gamer, you’re going to want the top of the line, right? That’s how we are with office products. They must be utilitarian and beautiful, and Levenger fits the bill on all counts.

Last week, I ordered a monogrammed Soul Skin. I didn't like the True Writer ballpoint that came with it - it was too short for my hand, so I sent it back and got a Lamy Safari fountain pen. All arrived in record time, as always, looking pristine and perfect in their gift boxes. I didn’t waste any time breaking them in.

I am in love with this cover. So much so that I bought a second one for my husband. The Ravello leather of the Soul Skin is ridiculously soft – I’ve actually caught myself petting it absently while reading. The pen loop lock works great, and it just plain looks sophisticated and elegant. The Lamy fountain pen is perfect for me-lightweight, good grip, nice ink laydown. I’m definitely a fan.

So this morning, my husband and I decided to run out for breakfast before settling in to work. I grabbed my Moleskine, now housed in its week old Soul Skin. I had an idea I wanted to explore, not a huge stretch, considering. But as we walked to the car, a fawn came crashing into the neighbors yard. I’m talking brand new, brightly spotted, no more than a week old. It was about the size of my neighbor’s miniature collie. I set my notebook on the top of the car and grabbed my iPhone to take pictures. Hilarity ensued, and fear, as Bambi scampered around, lost and scared. We finally got her cornered—we were trying to make sure she didn’t set out for the road—and she bounded off into the woods. What a blessing!

Randy and I got back in the car and drove off.

You know where this is going, right? Two miles later I realized I didn’t have my notebook. Oh………. Bad words. Very bad words. Not only was the Moleskine in the brand new case, which housed my brand new pen, but the notes themselves represent two years of ideas. Not something I want to lose.

We at least knew it had to be somewhere on the way out. We retraced our steps and found it a mile in, scattered across the road like rubbish. The Moleskine had come out of the cover, the pen had come out of the loops. All three were about three feet apart. I grabbed them all and got back in the car to examine everything.

A car had driven over the Soul Skin. But it was totally intact, only minimally scratched, on the back corner and the bottom binding, and has a warp in the top left corner in the exact shape of a radial. I think if I put it under something heavy, that might eventually smooth out. The scratches are barely noticeable.

The Moleskine itself was fine, it had fallen open to the first blank page as if desperate for a story.

The pen took the brunt of it, though. The top and bottom are scratched a bit, and the cap along the clip is scratched. It went from brand-new to well-loved in a heartbeat. It still writes like a dream, though the ink blotted on the first go round.

But if you consider, all of these things survived relatively unscathed after being flung from the top of a car at 45 miles an hour? I can’t give a better endorsement.

Thanks, Levenger!

Review of the Quo Vadis Habana Notebook

Oh boy, do I ever know what I’m going to be passing out to everyone this year.

The wonderful Karen Doherty from Exaclair, Inc., the exclusive U.S. distributor of Clairefontaine, Exacompta, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, and a bunch of other really fine paper products, sent me a Quo Vadis Habana notebook to test run.

As you all know, I am a paper freak. I covet nice paper, and pristine notebooks to capture my thoughts. Earlier this year I bought myself a Moleskine and started keeping all my thought in one place in an attempt to work in a more streamlined, GTD life style. I like the Moleskine, but the paper is yellowish, and I can see the notes from the previous page, which means I end up starting a new page every time I have a thought. 

My friend and fellow author Jeff Abbott turned me on to Clairefontaine notebooks and their lovely, clean white paper. I’ve become a bit of a convert, and this revelation has sparked an extensive search for the perfect notebook.

Clairefontaine makes the nicest paper in the world – heavy, very white and no bleed regardless of the pens I use. There’s nothing better than the heavy, steady feel when turning the pages. So you can imagine how excited I was to get the Habana, loaded with it's yummy Clairefontaine 90g paper.

The Quo Vadis Habana notebook is a great size too, 6” x 9”, bigger than my Moleskine by just the right amount. (Sadly, my Levenger pen keeper is too small to fit around the edge, so I’ll have to order a new one.) The notebook opens and lies almost flat, and has a solid backing that isn’t too stiff. The pen slips along the page, allowing notes and thoughts to flow unhindered. And the extra inch of space means I rarely have to stop and flip a page in the middle of a thought. For folks like me who hate to waste paper but don’t like to have multiple thoughts on the same page, this is perfect.

All in all, I have to give this notebook 5 stars. And I’m going to be passing them out as Christmas presents to all my friends and family who love the feel of an elegant notebook, and I’m going to the store to take a gander at their highly-rated planners.

Check out the excellent Quo Vadis blog here for lots of great info, reviews, and random musings.