Journals are more than a place to keep random musings. They can be keepers of memories, conversations with oneself, and snippets of inspiration. In other words, these are highly personal objects. The best softcover journals are built to last and are suitable for both jotting notes and sketching ideas. While they can be less sturdy than their hardcover companions, they tend to be more lightweight and are easy to slip it into a small space. When choosing your book, it’s important to think about the binding quality, durability, weight of paper, and compatibility with your medium, in addition to general factors like size and appearance. Below, find the right softbound journal for your inspired visions.
1. Moleskine Classic Notebook
Highly regarded for its stripped-down yet elegant look, Moleskine is our top pick for not only aesthetics but also functionality and variety of color and page-design options. The Italian brand protects its notebooks in a buttery-soft faux leather that is luxurious to the touch, and the ivory pages—although not bleed-proof—are super smooth. Each is slim and tightly bound and features a ribbon bookmark, inner pockets, and an elastic band to keep pages together when not in use. No matter how you want to use your journal, Moleskine has you covered, offering notebooks with plain, ruled, gridded, or dotted pages.
2. Beechmore Books Ruled Notebook
This is a timeless and sophisticated notebook that will last a long while. Bound in high-quality faux leather, it features crisp lined paper of substantial weight—thick enough to take ink from a fountain pen without bleeding. Compared with Moleskine’s lined notebooks, the lines are more widely spaced and slightly darker, which some people might prefer. Beechmore’s journal is available in tony colors from Dartmouth green to chestnut brown, and it comes with a ribbon bookmark and a binding that opens 180 degrees to lay flat on your desk.
3. The Unlabel Dot Grid Notebook
If you’re looking for an option that can help you mark or track your musings, a paginated journal might be a smart choice. This one features smooth pages with dotted grids, and the page number at the outer bottom corner of each sheet is small and subtle. The dots allow you to write in a straight line while offering you flexibility to draw charts, make lists, and much more. Unless you’re using a very inky marker, the pages are thick enough to generally prevent bleeding.
4. Twone Travel Journal Set
There is a greener alternative to soft book covers made of leather or faux leather: kraft paper, which presents a minimal and fashionable aesthetic. This journal features covers made of 50 percent postconsumer recycled paper—much easier to customize than the leathery options on our list but still able to effectively protect your work. The journals are tightly stitched, but you can open them completely flat, and the pages are thick enough to use with a fountain pen without bleed.
5. Minimalism Art Soft Cover Notebook
This is a great option for those seeking pages with well-defined grids. The squares are not too big or small and are printed in solid black rather than gray. The sheets are also nice and thick—you can fill them in with inky pens, markers, and even paint, and minimal bleed will occur. The faux leather covers are soft but not too bendy, and they give the journal a professional look. The one thing this option is missing is an inner pocket, although it is finished with a ribbon bookmark.