Month: November 2017

Christmas Gifts for the Papyrophile in Your Life: A Guide

Christmas Gifts for the Papyrophile in Your Life: A Guide

Somehow, someway, it’s already the Christmas season! I can’t believe it, but I hear time goes faster the older you get and it seems to be ringing true.

Since the Christmas season is, indeed, upon us, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a gift guide that can be passed along to husbands, parents, siblings, friends, and miscellaneous family that is appropriate for any papyrophile (a person who loves paper, notebooks, stationery, etc.) regardless of their budget! Enjoy!

***Disclaimer: All of these thoughts are my own. I am not getting paid or reimbursed or any product for anything I say here. I just love recommending shit to people, especially when it’s shit that I love! Carry on.

A Ring-Bound Planner:

Given my new-found love for ring-bound planners, of course this was going to be the first thing on my list. I’m going to offer you three options of varying price, depending on your budget!

  1. Webster’s Pages Personal Binder: regularly priced $24.99, ON SALE AT THE TIME OF WRITING FOR $12.50!!!!! (binder only) or binder and inserts, regularly priced $34.99 but on sale right now for $17.50! These are a super fun option because they are incredibly affordable, come in lots of cute colors and designs, are relatively durable for the price, and (BONUS) can be bought online or at your local craft store (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Joann’s I believe all carry this line). The website states they come with a 1″-1.25″ ring mechanism, which is 25mm-30mm, but I’m not sure how it varies? You don’t get an option to pick 25mm or 30mm that I can see, but whatever. This is a great option for someone on a limited budget, especially if you snatch up the sale prices and get the whole kit with all your inserts already (although the company inserts may not work for everyone), or for someone who wants to try out ring binders to see if it’s the right planning style for them before they drop the money for a more expensive ring binder.
  2. Filofax USA Personal Ring Binder: Filofax is kind of the OG of ring planners, and TBH they have a ton of options for any price range, going from $38 on the low end for a personal Filofax Domino to $220 on the high end for a personal Filofax Classic Croc. Probably your best bet for middle-of-the-line personal ring binders will be either the Filofax Saffiano ($59) or the Filofax Original ($101). The Saffiano is a faux leather binder that comes in fun pop colors, has one pen loop, card pockets and a secretarial pocket on the left and a flap for inserting a notepad on the right. The Original (pictured) is made of real leather (though the site doesn’t specify what type), also comes in fun pop colors or more traditional ones, and features two card pockets, one slip pocket, two elastic pen loops, and one multifunctional elastic holder. Bonus with Filofax is that all binders automatically come with inserts – the Saffiano will come with your choice of a 2017 set or a 2018 set, while the Original comes with an undated perpetual year set. Both come with 23mm Filofax ring mechanisms, as well.
  3. Gillio Firenze Medium Compagna: This is (IMHO) the god of all ring binders. I cannot say enough good things about the Compagna. Vegetable-tanned full-grain Italian calfskin leather (aka the highest-quality leather money can buy), plenty of pockets and card slots, a zippered pocket on the left for change, a flexible pen loop, a leather flyleaf, plus that large document pocket on the back, 25mm Krause rings (the gold standard of ring mechanisms), and a lifetime guarantee. It really doesn’t get better than this, and for a whopping starting price of $286 + $25 shipping to the US you had better feel like you’re getting your money’s worth (trust me – you are!). Pictured is the Yale Blue Compagna, but they come in a variety of colors, plus printed croco, bicolor, printed ostrich, and real ostrich leather (which will run you upwards of $800!). You can also add-on Gillio’s medium inserts and a ton of other stuff, and each of their organizers comes with a free Gillio ballpoint pen in the color of your choice.

BONUS OPTION: Van Der Spek Touch Me Standard: These are EXTREMELY similar to the Compagnas, but come with a slightly lower price point. The VDS TM is a good option that falls in between the Filo Original and the Gillio. You’ve got a choice of five colors of French buffalo leather, plus the same inside features as the Gillio. VDS gives you the option of 25mm OR 30mm Krause rings depending on how much you like to stuff your planner, and will run you approximately $170 total (including taxes and shipping).

A Traveler’s Notebook:

Traveler’s notebooks are a great option as a gift for the stationery-lover in your life because they can be used for about a million different purposes. They can be actual traveler’s notebooks, used to document travels. They can be planners. They can be wallets. They can be journals, memory keepers, literally practically anything you may imagine. Here’s three options of varying price:

  1. May Designs for Target Planner Folio: At $19.99, this is probably the cheapest you’ll be able to find a TN, and it comes with inserts already! This would be considered a cahier-sized TN, and would fit Moleskine Cahier notebooks and other 5×8 notebooks. This is a great value option for someone just testing out the system. They’ve got two secretarial pockets, a pen loop, and come in a handful of different cover styles.
  2. Mystics Little Gifts B6 TN Cover: At the time of this writing, this particular leather (linked) was the only style she still had in-stock, BUT there are usually lots of other options, as well, including full-grain, top-grain, and milled leathers. $40 gets you the classic TN with four elastics and nothing else, but she offers a-la-carte options to customize each TN, which include adding a stitched cover, interior and exterior pockets, reinforced spine, a pen loop, additional elastics, and a larger spine (to hold more inserts). The a-la-carte options range in price from $1 to $13, so it’s totally feasible that you can get a B6 TN (the largest size she offers currently) for under $60.
  3. Foxy Fix Foxy Notebook Cover: Foxy offers ten different leather styles currently, with both full-grain and top-grain leathers available, in probably over 100 different colors! They truly are able to offer a style, color, and texture for almost any person in the market. A fully-loaded compact (four string) No. 7 (cahier-sized) Foxy complete with interior pockets, pen loop, and foiled front cover and spine embossing will run you $121 + shipping in their original styles; a Lush or Spice fully-loaded No. 7 compact (these have a different interior pocket configuration and a large back pocket, similar to the Compagna ring binders) will cost you $137 + shipping. Add $7 to each if you want to upgrade to a wide fitting (six strings). You can also opt for a FN without pockets, pen loop, embossing, etc., and they offer FN singles, as well, which run significantly less than their couture options but also are far less customizable. Pictured is a wide Spice Thyme.

BONUS OPTION: Chic Sparrow Traveler’s Notebooks: Chic Sparrow falls (price-range wise) somewhere between MLG and FF. A Wide (cahier-sized) Deluxe TN, which comes with stitching, internal pockets, four strings, and a pen loop will run you about $113. Chic Sparrow also offers a Classic option, which is just the TN cover with four strings for $87.99 in the Wide size, and has a handful of options you can add at an additional cost from there. Chic Sparrow TNs are all full-grain leather and are very high-quality. Pictured is a Deluxe Mr. Darcy Carie Harling Violet TN.

Bound Notebooks:

Maybe a customizable insert-based system isn’t what works for the papyrophile in your life. In that case, here are three options for bound notebooks that will work beautifully for bullet journaling, regular journaling, note taking… basically anything you could want to use a bound notebook for!

  1. Essentials Dot-Matrix A5 Notebook: Featuring an inside back cover pocket, elastic band to keep the journal closed, ribbon bookmark, hardcover binding, and 192 pages of 100 gsm acid-free archival dot-grid paper for $9.92 on Amazon, this is a really great entry-level bullet journal-style notebook.
  2. Rhodia A5 Webnotebook: This hardbound dot-grid notebook comes with 96 sheets of 90g ivory Clairefontaine paper, an Italian leatherette hardcover, an elastic closure band, inner pocket, and ribbon bookmark, and will cost you $19.95 on the Goulet Pens website! The Clairefontaine paper is fantastic, super-smooth, fountain pen friendly paper, and the notebook itself comes in a handful of colors.
  3. The Official Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal A5 Notebook: Currently offered in emerald or black, this *~*~official~*~* bullet journal is blind embossed on the front with Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal logo and features pre-printed key and index pages, 240 numbered  (front and back) dot-grid pages, an elastic closure band, and three (not one, not two, but THREE) ribbon bookmarks. At the low, low price of $24.95 on the Goulet Pens website, this notebook is sure to please any die-hard bullet journalist in your life!

BONUS OPTION: Zequenz Classic 360 Soft-Bound A5 Grid journal: I own this notebook in the B6 size and feel honor-bound to list it here because I just think it’s a super handy notebook. It’s soft bound but lays flat and rolls up easily, it’s got 200 pages (400 total, front and back) of 70 GSM premium acid-free fountain-pen-friendly grid paper (which I prefer to dot paper, to be totally honest), and comes with a nifty magnetic bookmark, as well. For $21.95 on Amazon, you really can’t beat the price for the quality and sheer number of pages you’re getting, and I love my B6 size (which is slightly cheaper, clocking in at $18.95 on Amazon).

Fountain Pens:

I exclusively write with fountain pens. I am obsessed with them and think they are just the greatest things. Here are three of my favorites on the low-end of the fountain pen price range (cause this shit gets expensive quick):

  1. Caliarts Ego Transparent Piston-Filled Fountain Pen: These can be found on eBay for anywhere from $10 to $12. They are a Chinese kind of a knock-off pen, but I own one and it’s honestly one of my favorite pens. It has a huge ink capacity, the piston-filling mechanism is super smooth, and the steel F nib is buttery and lush. It’s a clear demonstrator pen, which is also super fun when you’re using colored ink.
  2. Pilot Metropolitan: The Metro was my first-ever fountain pen, and so I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for it. Offered in F or M nibs and had for $15 at the Goulet Pens website, these are super nifty little pens that make for a great starter pen if you’re first getting into the FP world. They take proprietary Pilot ink cartridges or a squeeze converter (both included), or you can purchase a twist converter separately – both converters would allow you to use bottled ink with your pen. These are just super fun!
  3. TWSBI 580AL: These come in a myriad of colors and nib sizes, and are the original version of the Caliarts Ego dupe mentioned above. Running you anywhere from $50 to $60 at Goulet Pens, depending on the style and color you choose, TWSBIs are super fun and super smooth-writing piston-filled fountain pens with an awesome reputation for quality.

BONUS OPTION: Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo: Included here because this is my workhorse EDC fountain pen that goes everywhere I go. You can’t beat the rhodium-plated 18k gold retractable nib for taking quick notes and not having to worry about screwing off a cap. They have a relatively good ink capacity and take both proprietary Pilot cartridges and converters. They come in a variety of colors and nib sizes, and are just an awesome pen to have in your collection. Tipping the scales at $140 from Goulet Pens, this is the most expensive fountain pen that I’ll recommend, but it has been 100% worth the money since I bought it as a Christmas gift for myself in December 2015. 10/10 would recommend again and again.

Other accessories and recommendations, in no particular order:

 

So there you have it! A fairly thorough gift-giving-guide for the stationery lover in your life. Let me know in the comments if you have any additional recommendations! 🙂

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Gillio Firenze Medium Compagna and My Foray Into Ring Planners

Gillio Firenze Medium Compagna and My Foray Into Ring Planners

Things have been a little quiet over here at Bibliophilotherian the past few weeks. That’s partly because (once again) my MBA classes started up and that absorbs 99.9% of my free time. BUT, the other reason for my radio silence is because I have made a huge leap into ring planners, and I wanted to get my hands on my news greatest bestest ring planner ever before I went into the nitty gritty details with you guys about what and why and when and how.

And now here it all goes!

I had been not happy for a while with my TN planning system. I loved the separate notebooks, I loved the inserts for weekly and monthly calendars while still being able to have my rapid-logging dailies and I loved the collections being separate and having space for notes and everything that comes with a TN.

What I didn’t love is that only my middle inserts would lay flat, and the ones in the front and the back would have awful humps in them while I was trying to write. What I didn’t love was that it still didn’t “feel” professional. What I didn’t love was that I still couldn’t move individual pieces of paper around if I wanted them to be grouped together (say I wanted all my monthly gratitude logs in a row, one after another. Not feasible, unless I have an entire insert dedicated exclusively to gratitude logs. Which, no. Just no.).

So, I saw where @annie.plans and @julies_plans and @emma_plans had all made the switch into ring planners on their Instagram accounts, and they can take full credit for planting the seed! So I found a cheap personal Filofax on a Facebook BST page, I deconstructed and hold-punched some of my old personal-sized TN inserts from my two-week foray into the FF #4 TN, and dove headfirst into the ring planner world.

LET ME JUST SAY it was planner peace at first setup. I bought a set of Recollections monthly and weekly inserts with dividers and started rocking and rolling.

Not even a week later, Gillio Firenze, whose website I had been obsessing over since I saw Annie’s and Julie’s Gillios on their IG accounts, announced they were releasing an UNDYED LEATHER RING PLANNER and I knew I had to have it, so I impulse-bought it.

After a harrowing 24 hours, (so many people were trying to order on Gillio’s page that we crashed the website and not everyone’s orders went through) I finally got my confirmation email and my Undyed Apoca Medium Gillio Compagna was on its way to me!

What’s special about the Compagna in particular is that it has a large pocket on the back of the planner that can hold folded pieces of standard-sized letter paper – this was KEY for me, because my main issue with smaller-than-A5 sized planners is that there is no place for me to keep my monthly bills without them sticking awkwardly out of the top of the planner. The Compagna solves that problem, and my bills fit nicely inside the top pocket.

Large back pocket pictured here

The undyed Epoca leather is special in that it is Gillio’s most delicate and least-processed leather. If you know me, you know that I adore leather that will patina and age and mark over time, and this is the shining characteristic about the undyed Epoca. Given that I’ve promised my husband this is the last planner I will buy (hahahahahahah), I’m super stoked to see how it ages with use!

As soon as I got my hands on this ring planner, I knew that was it. The leather is so soft, supple, and gloriously pebbled. There are ample pockets to put paper, stickers, notepads, a ruler, and my ever-necessary check register, plus the aforementioned back pocket to hold bills and loose paper. The 25mm Krause rings are absolutely a dream. Since Krause rings are interchangeable, I can also upgrade to 30mm rings or gold rings if I should ever feel the need (but right now, I don’t). The pen loop on the right side is a titch small, but my planner pen (Pilot VP Decimo EF) fits snugly inside it so no biggie there. The clasp provides plenty of length (so feel free to stuff it!) and is very sturdy. The leather flyleaf that comes with the Compagnas is just velvety soft and super lush, and makes for a nice view when opening up the planner. I especially love that there’s no outside branding on the planner – the only branding is on the inside left front pocket, seen above. I’m not one for outside branding, so that was a plus for me!

Now I’m just going to move along into some photos of my set-up:

Front cover behind the leather flyleaf
Monthly and weekly divider covers – these are from Recollections and are super cute. Like $10 also for a 12 month set
Monthly – check out that 50 Shades of Grey Oliclip!
Weekly view – I love decorating my monthly and weekly calendars with stickers and washi 🙂
The workhorse of every planner system I’ve had – the bullet-journal-style dailies!

What I love about ring planners is the ability to move pages around, and that everything lies flat! The 25mm Krause rings are just the right size for me – big enough to hold everything but not so big as to make writing on the left side of the binder uncomfortable or awkward. I can rearrange pages as I see fit, and I can pull out months and add months as necessary. Right now I’m working with a six month spread of weeklies and monthlies, and will probably keep November in until January, and then pull out November and add in May, and so on and so forth. I’ve also got a year-at-a-glance page in case I need to plan out further than six months, but that rarely happens.

Here’s where I’m gonna level with you – these don’t come cheap. A medium single-color Compagna is going to run you more than $300 with shipping included. Kind of a hefty price tag for a ring planner, I know. But what you’re getting is a quality, hand-crafted leather binder that will literally last you for the rest of your life. They come with a lifetime guarantee, so if anything breaks (rings included) Gillio will repair or replace it. These are built to last, and they’re designed to be used. You can buy one of your own by visiting the Gillio Firenze webpage.

If you’re not quite ready to dish out that kind of dinero, check out the Gillio Marketplace on Facebook. Lots of second-hand Gillios are listed there for reasonable prices. But I can assure you, you won’t regret this purchase!

 

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A Spoiler-Free Book Review: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

A Spoiler-Free Book Review: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

So this has been a long time coming – I actually finished this book several weeks ago, but my MBA classes cranked back up and I just hadn’t had the free seconds to write up a review on Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams. BUT, now I have a few free minutes so here we go:

Before I really get going, let me just make a disclaimer here: Libba Bray is the author of my all-time favorite series of young adult fantasy books, the Gemma Doyle trilogy of books (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing, each of which can be purchased by clicking on the respective links). These books are on par with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings in my heart and head, and if you’re going to read anything Libba for the first time please start with Gemma’s story! I have read these books almost every single year, without fail, since the first one was released in 2003. I have gifted the first book to many friends – any time I participate in a book swap, A Great and Terrible Beauty is the book that goes out. I promise you won’t be disappointed!!!

Ok – now let’s get into the bulk of this post. Lair of Dreams is book no. 2 in The Diviners series, the first book being (not unexpectedly) entitled The Diviners. Your cast of characters is much the same, to include:

  • Evie
  • Theta
  • Henry
  • Uncle Will
  • Sam
  • Jericho
  • Mabel
  • the Proctor sisters

And a couple of new additions, namely:

  • Ling
  • Wai Mei
  • Louis
  • Memphis
  • Blind Bill

The story picks up about a year from where The Diviners left off, with diviners being the new big thing in the Big Apple. Without going too much into the plot of the story and giving it all away, let’s just say that divining getting bigger and bigger is perhaps not the best thing. Everyone’s powers seem to be getting stronger and they all seem to be tied to a new, central source. I am super stoked to see how this develops over the course of the third (and, I believe, the final) book in the series!

As is always the case with anything Libba Bray writes, my absolute favorite part of this book is the way she builds the story. I’ve read a lot of books in my life, but I’ve never seen an author who can write like Libba writes. She is a wordsmith in the truest sense of the term, and writes in what I can only describe as a cinematic way – I can actually see everything happening in my head as she writes it. All of her books that I own are lovingly dog-eared, underlined, and notated to pieces. I copied complete passages, full pages, over into my commonplace book because that’s just how good she is.

What I have to admire the most is the depth of research that went into this book. With the introduction of Ling and Wei Mai, both of whom are Chinese immigrants in America during the Chinese Exclusion Act, Bray went to painstaking lengths to ensure that historical and cultural accuracy are represented by these two characters and their family members. As I read the book, I was researching some of the topics and symbolism that came up, and Bray has interspersed Chinese symbolism throughout in ways that aren’t even obvious until later unless you know what you’re looking for! That’s a quality I have always admired about her writing, and I’m so glad to see that it hasn’t changed over the last fourteen years.

Here’s the blurb on the back of my copy of the book:

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s a media darling. It seems like everyone in love with New York City’s latest It Girl – their ‘Sweetheart Seer.’

But while Evie is enjoying the high life, her fellow Diviners Henry DuBois and Ling Chan will fight to keep their powers secret.

A malevolent force is at large, infecting people’s dreams and claiming victims in their sleep. At the edge of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans of nightmare proportions…

As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

The central source of conflict in this book is the sleeping sickness, which descended upon Chinatown and seems to be spreading outwards across the city. Its victims go to sleep at night and never wake up – they don’t die immediately, though; rather, they seem to be trapped in some kind of nightmare-land from which they can’t awaken, as their bodies are slowly burned up from the inside out until there’s nothing left.

This is what Evie and crew are trying to fight in this book – where is it coming from, who is causing it, why are they doing so, and how do they stop it? Although to be honest, Evie kind of takes a back seat to Henry and Ling, who are featured on the cover of my copy and who play more of a central role in this story than does Evie, who dominated the first book.

That’s truly fine by me, because I think Evie is exceedingly shallow and irritating, and I definitely prefer Henry, Theta, Memphis, Ling, Sam, and Jericho to Evie.

I really enjoyed learning more about each characters’ background and history, as Bray begins to drop significant hints about where they come from throughout this book (you’ve got to be quick and paying close attention to catch some of them, though!). There is truly a character that everyone can relate to in this book, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Overall score: 5/5 stars, definitely add it to your to-read list

Now I am just going to leave you with some of my favorite passages from this book:

I’ve never understood this obsession with where we are from that we Americans seem to have. We are from here, are we not? Sometimes I find this clannishness, these ties to old homelands, ancient traditions, and familial bloodlines, to be nothing more than fear – the same fear that keeps us praying to an absent God. If anything, I hope that our research into the great unknown of Diviners and the supernatural world proves that we are all one, joined by the same spark of energy that owes nothing to countries or religion, good and evil, or any other man-made divisions. We create our history as we go.

America had invented itself. It continued to invest itself as it went along. Sometimes its virtues made it the envy of the world. Sometimes it betrayed the very heart of its ideals. Sometimes the people dispensed with what was difficult or inconvenient to acknowledge. So the good people maintained the illusion of democracy and wrote another hymn to America. They sang loud enough to drown out dissent. They sang loud enough to overpower their own doubts. There were no plaques to commemorate mistakes, but the past didn’t forget. History was haunted by the ghosts of buried crimes, which required periodic exorcisms of truth. Actions had consequences.

“Diviners are truth-tellers. But people rarely want the truth. We say that we want it when, really, we like being lied to. We prefer the ether of hope.”

“But hope is necessary! You have to give people hope,” Mabel insisted.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

Jericho folded his arms across his chest. “In an amoral, violent world, isn’t it unconscionable to keep offering hope? It’s like advertising for soap that never gets you clean.”

“Now you’re just being cynical.”

“Am I? What about war? We keep grappling for power, killing for it. Enslaving. Oppressing. We create ourselves. We destroy ourselves. Over and over. Forever. If the cycle repeats, why bother with hope?”

“But we also overcome. I’ve seen people fight against that sort of oppression and win. What you’re talking about is nihilism. And frankly,” Mabel said, taking a steadying breath, “frankly, that bores me.” Nothing emboldened her quite as much as someone claiming the good fight couldn’t be won.

“How is it nihilism to embrace the cycle and let go – of attachments and morality, yes, and the opiate futility of hope?” Jericho fired back. Mabel’s naiveté annoyed him. She might think she’d seen the world, but, really, she saw only a particular slice of the world, neatly bordered by hedgerows trimmed daily by her parents’ idealism. “All right,” he pressed. “If you believe in hope, what about true evil? Do you believe there is such a thing?”

Mabel felt as if the question were a test, one she might easily fail. “I believe real evil is brought about by a system that is unjust or by people acting selfishly. By greed.” She’d never really articulated her thoughts on the matter before, and it satisfied her to say them aloud.

“That’s the do-gooder answer.”

Mabel bristled. “I don’t go for the bogeyman. There’s plenty of evil to fight in life without having to make up devils and demons and ghosts. If you believe there is Evil int he world, capital E, doesn’t that take away your belief in fee will? I still maintain that people have choices. To do right. To have hope. To give hope,” Mabel said pointedly.

The land has a memory.

Every stream and river runs with a confession of sorts, history whispered over rocks, lifted in the beaks of birds at a stream, carried out to sea. Buffalo thunder across plains whose soil was watered with the blood of battles long since relegated to musty books on forgotten shelves. Fields once strewn with blue and gray now flower with uneasy buds. The slave master snaps the lash, and generations later, the ancestral scars remain.

Under it all, the dead lie, remembering.

The atoms vibrate, always on the verge of some new shift.

Shift and the electrons lean toward particle or wave.

Shift and the action requires a reaction.

Shift and the stroke of a typewriter elevates i to I, changes God to god.

Shift and the beast acquires a thumb; the thumb, a weapon.

Shift and right become wrongs; the wrongs, justification.

It’s all in the perspective.

And finally – from the Author’s Note:

The story of America is one that is still being written. Many of the ideological battles we like to think we’ve tucked neatly into a folder called “the past” – issues of race, class, gender, sexual identity, civil rights, justice, and just what makes us “American” – are very much alive today. For what we do not study and reflect upon, we are in danger of dismissing or forgetting. What we forget, we are often doomed to repeat. Our ghosts, it seems, are always with us, whispering that attention must be paid.