We make up 10% of the population, but few products seem to be made to suit our needs. If you like to write but have been frustrated by what is commonly offered, you know what I mean. Three of my five co-workers are lefties and we’ve all faced the ugly truth – our world is made for righties! So, we got together recently to identify the key features that make a journal or notebook really work for us. I hope you find it useful:
Does it Lay Flat? That’s feature #1, for sure. Pages that fly up on their own are a nuisance. When the book is opened, the pages should lay flat and make it easy to rest my wrist as I write on either page.
Size Matters! I find that small, even 6x9, notebooks are more difficult to write in as a lefty. Larger sizes seem to be easier to work with, whether on lined-ruled or blank-unlined pages. Letter-sized is great (8 ½ x 11), but some European standard sizes work really well also: A4 (21x30cm, or 9x12-inches), B5 (17.6 x 25cm, a bit larger than 8x10-inches) and B4 which, counter-intuitively, is actually twice the size of B5 at 25 x 35.2cm (roughly 11 x 15inches)
Ruled or Not? We were split on this one; yeah, it’s a personal preference. If you have the common lefty “over-the-top” wrist curl, ruled pages might provide the guidance you need to keep your sentences from creeping up the page. On the other hand (no pun intended), sketching is best on a blank page or one with a lightly shaded dot-grid for drawing and organizing thoughts (aka bullet journaling).
Cover Styles: Hard and Soft Cover journals seem to handle about the same. However, to really get those pages to lay-flat nicely, choose your hardcover carefully – a rounded spine will allow the pages more room inside to bend away from each other, so look for that feature. Soft cover journals have a flexible spine so that’s generally less of a worry, though the page binding can be so stiff that even within soft covers or with a refillable journal, the pages may need to be ‘broken-in’ once or twice to make the pages lay down. Just open the book about halfway and bend the pages back more than 180-degrees to ‘break’ the binding glue a bit. When selecting a wrap-style journal (also called Medieval or Olde-Worlde journals), I like it when they are available with the flap opening to the left so my wrist lays on the leather as I write.
Paper Choices: This really gets personal! There are hundreds of paper qualities and styles out there. I think your instrument mostly will dictate the paper you choose to write on from either side. Typically, for ballpoint or rollerball pens, any smooth paper will work just fine. If you plan to keep your notes and memoirs for years to come, be sure that the paper is of archival quality and acid-free. Fancier papers have a texture that makes writing a more pleasurable experience and some even have deckled or frayed edges that are not only look really cool, but they feel great to touch, providing a pleasurable feedback through my fingers. And at the luxury end of the scale, you can find handmade paper that is something to experience. If you are using a fountain pen, be sure to test your nib and ink on a sheet before you commit (or, look carefully within product reviews for ‘bleed through’ comments).
Here are some of our favorites from Epica, makers of what are widely regarded as the finest handcrafted leather journals and notebooks available anywhere. It seems fitting that they are all handmade in Florence, Italy; the birthplace of two of the arguably most famous of all lefties – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo:
Might as well start with the best, right? Hands-down, the ultimate journal for lefties (and probably for righties also) is this handsewn wrap-style journal with super soft and supple Italian leather and handmade paper from Amalfi, Italy. Works great with all pens, including fountain pens, and great for sketching, too! I love how the blank pages open and lay flat without any effort on my part. The size is perfect – B5 (about 8x10-inches) and the page count is not too high at 160, but that’s mostly because each page is at least double the thickness of a typical sheet of paper. If your budget can handle it, you will fall in love, I’m sure. I’d go so far as to say this is the perfect left handed leather journal.
This is a thicker journal – B5 size as above, with 600 writing pages, ivory colored and deckled on the edges. Even though it’s quite thick (over 2 inches), it lays flat and feels so nice to write on; and the black leather is stunning!
For a desk journal, this would be my go-to notebook for lefties. Gorgeous leather with a classic finish and the large format (A4 – a bit larger than letter size in USA) provides lots of room to write across; my hand definitely likes that. The page count is good, too, at 288 and it comes with ruled or blank pages, and there’s a refillable version that has gilded edges if you want to get real fancy.
Ah, the Executive Padfolio. Black leather, a beautiful burgundy fabric lining and suited for A4 or Letter size pads from your local office supply or the super-fancy Tomoe River paper, renown for being the “smoothest paper in the world”. Really easy to take notes in style with this baby.
I know, I said I prefer larger notebooks, but for one to carry around in my handbag, this refillable A5 sized journal is made with the same leather as my favorite Amalfi journal and, it’s refillable, which makes it super-affordable as a daily journal for left-handed writers (about 6x8½-inches, with 288 writing pages per refill). AND, the refillable covers can accommodate all 5 versions of inserts offered by Epica, including dotted page refills (aka bullet journals).
This new journal could become my new favorite, despite is medium size. The nappa leather is like nothing I’ve felt – super supple. I’m told this is the kind of leather used to make clothing in Italy – oh my! And the paper has a really nice texture with edges that have a rough feel, as tough they have been put to a carpenter’s rasp. Oh, that’s right, that is how the pages are actually finished. (160 writing pages)
These journals have the Classic brown Epica leather, but with beautifully finished cream colored pages that make writing a pleasure with any instrument. Of course, they lay flat easily and with 320 pages, they make a nice desk journal.
This is the hardcover version of my favorite noted at the top. Amalfi handmade paper and the Classic Epica covers, with rich green flyleaves inside the covers. It’s also available in the larger B4 size (about 11x15-inches).
Holy cow – this is HUGE! Epica refers to this collection as the World’s Thickest Handmade Journals and it’s easy to see why. Super-thick at over 3” and housing over 1,000 writing pages. You wouldn’t believe such a journal could lay flat, but it actually does. The creamy paper is the same as found in other “hand-cut” journals. Oh, and if you are really adventurous or simply prolific, they make these giants twice this size and also in wood cover versions. No kidding!
Do you agree with me? Either way, leave a comment. I’d love to hear what our readers have to say about finding that perfect journal for lefties!