From the first time I ever used a notebook from Life, I was a fan. Everything about them appeals to me. Their product design is top notch, their product quality is extremely high and their paper is a dream to write on. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used a Life product that has disappointed me. Today I want to take a look at their top-of-the-line premium notebook, the Life Noble Note.
This notebook makes a great first impression. Before you ever even open it, the elegant decorations on the cover set your expectations for quality high. From the delicate scrollwork to the gold-accented Life logo, it screams “Premium”. Open it up and you won’t have anything standing between you and your writing. There are no flyleafs, no index, just the first page of the notebook, ready for whatever your pen has in store for it. Speaking of which, the paper feels extremely smooth, similar to what I’d expect from high-quality Japanese paper.
Even a premium notebook needs to have the specs to back it up. Let’s look at some details for the Life Noble Note.
- Pages: 200 (100 sheets)
- Paper Weight: 84.9gsm
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Lined (8mm), Grid (5mm), Blank
- Size: A4, A5, B5, B6
Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Sheen: High
- Shading: High
- Bleeding: Very Low
- Ghosting: Medium
- Feathering: Very Low (with one exception, explained below)
- Dry Time: High
- Cream colored paper
- Very attractive design
- No flyleaf
- No extras like page marker, index, elastic closure
Let’s start with a quick discussion about the different products that are available. The Noble Note comes with either blank, lined or grid pages. The blank, which you see here, is named the Noble Note Plain and is only available with a brown cover The lined is named the Noble Note Ruled and is only available with a blue cover. The grid is named the Noble Note Section and is only available with a red cover. All three are the same notebook and only the ruling style is different, so don’t let the names throw you for a loop.
Now, on to the actual use of this notebook. This truly a premium notebook. While it doesn’t have many extras, it does have amazing paper. This paper is extremely smooth to write on, but not so smooth that you’d call it slick. In a direct comparison with Tomoe River, I would say it feels just as smooth, but does have a tiny bit more resistance. Life Noble paper also shows a great amount of sheen. It’s not sheeny as Tomoe River or Graphilo, but to be honest nothing is. If you want sheen, this notebook will not disappoint you. It does have fairly long dry times, but this is pretty typical with high-sheening paper.As for the other properties of this paper, it does show a good amount of shading. It also has some ghosting, but not so much that it should be a big distraction if you choose to write on both sides of a page. In all of my writing, with one exception I didn’t observe any feathering or bleeding.
The one exception to the no feathering is that Life paper seems to be sensitive to skin oils. On parts of the paper where I got some skin oils (maybe I touched my face and then the paper) the ink would usually feather. Keep in mind, I didn’t experience this where my hand normally touched the paper during normal writing, only when I touched skin that had a bit more oil on it, like my face.I will say that I found this notebook harder to lay flat than other similar notebooks. I think the reason is that this notebook has four large signatures compared to other similarly sized notebooks that have up to twelve small signatures. The larger signatures do not offer as much flexibility, which means that if you are writing on a page in the middle of the signature it is more likely to not easily lay flat.
When you think of a luxury notebook, the Life Noble Notebook should be one of the first notebooks that pops into your head. The overall look and design of the notebooks is fantastic, the paper is amazing and the price is surprisingly reasonable (for a premium notebook). While it is a bit disappointing that the large signatures keep it from easily laying flat, I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. Even with the sensitivity to skin oils, I still think that this is some of the best, most fountain pen friendly paper you can buy. If you want a premium notebook, the Life Noble Note should be one of your top contenders.
Interested in trying this paper before buying a notebook? Head over to my shop and pick up a paper sample pack.
If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.
Life Noble Note Notebook
- Sheen (higher is better)
- Shading (higher is better)
- Bleeding (higher is better)
- Ghosting (higher is better)
- Feathering (higher is better)
- Dry Time (higher is better)
Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating
Pros: Premium notebook with a great design and amazing paper
Cons: Sometimes feathers with skin oils, doesn’t always lay completely flat, longer dry times
Value Rating: 3.57 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.13
Who this notebook is for: People who want a premium notebook that looks the part.
Upgrade to this notebook from: Apica Premium C.D. notebook
Upgrade from this notebook to: A soft cover Tomoe River notebook
John, you must be a workaholic – always busy. I appreciate a good notebook but not if it involves a mortgage. I write songs and use notebooks for lyrics – first take, not the polished version. Being a tidy person I like the notebooks to be the same size etc (but not neccessarily the same colour) so they can sit together on a shelf. It’s important for me that the book stays open and flat, so I use doublespiral binding.
I have a Moleskine notebook but I’m scared to use it. I write in cheaper ones.
When you roadtest notebooks would you please mention the usual price. Dollars will do. That way I can judge the relative cost.
Does Walmart or similar sell notebooks? How do they compare with upmarket notebooks?
Noel, these are definitely not cheaper notebooks. I do mention the cost per sheet (based on what I paid) in the info at the bottom of the review, so that should allow you to judge the relative cost. I don’t like to give a hard cost because it can and does vary depending on where the notebook is purchased. For example, you could get one of these right now at Vanness Pens for $20 or on Amazon for $15 or at a local shop for $18. Where you ultimately purchase it will have a big influence on how much you end up spending.
I think the only place you’ll be able to find these locally are boutique or specialty shops, so no big box retailers like Walmart or Target. An online retailer is definitely your best bet.
I have been following your blog for quite some time. I have always been a crazy enthusiast about desk accessories, and stationery has always stolen my heart. Im more of a chick pretty stationery girl. And looking a list for the same, it would be great if you could curate one.
Just stumbled across your article. Great overview and very thorough & analytical assessment of the Life Notebook !
Thanks for the photos as well to reinforce your points. I did a quick search on Amazon and found a small Life notepad for under $7 (more of a reporter-style at 3.5 x 5 inches)… SOI may give it a try. Trained as an architect in my younger days – I have a long history of ink on paper and Mylar (before the advent of CAD) and have recently reintroduced myself to fountain pens after years of pens and drafting pencils… and of course, collecting notebooks for sketches and jotting quick notes.
I toggle back-and-forth between my computer and notebooks, but still value the thought process supported by drawing and sketching.
Thank you, Kevin! Glad you found the review helpful. I hope you were able to pick up the small Life notepad and are enjoying it. It’s great to hear that you’ve been reintroduced to fountain pens. Happy writing!
Sir, thank you for this flawless review.
I learned so much about these notebooks, and the word ‘Signature’. I never knew the name for this part. I suppose that the issue of lying flat towards the middle is less of a problem in a stitch bound book as it can be flattened without breaking a glued seal – yet another reason to choose one of these books over the cheaper glued models.
I’m glad you enjoyed the review and learned something, Jason! It’s true that with a stitched notebook you don’t have to worry about breaking the glue binding, so you can work on them to flatten them out if needed. Happy writing!