For some, finding the perfect notebook is akin to finding perfectly fitting jeans or just the right coffee blend. I am one of those people. I am a notebook person and I could literally spend an entire day (or more) perusing notebooks. I’ve been a notebook lover ever since I can remember, probably since pre-school age. Now, after several decades of filling notebooks for journaling, note taking, project brainstorming, list making, formula notes etc., I can safely say that I am extremely picky about finding the right notebook for the right thing. Sometimes I’ll start a notebook with a certain intent and then it just doesn’t feel right, like an item of clothing that doesn’t quite fit and bothers you all day. When I discovered the line of Learn Beautifully Notebooks by Cognitive Surplus however, I knew I’d found something special.

These notebooks satisfy the naturalist, geeky plant girl, botanical alchemist, and star-gazer in me. On their own, they are beautiful and functional, but lined up, they truly spark joy. Cognitive Surplus notebooks are designed with classic images from thirteen different scientific disciplines. They’re design in Portland, OR and made with recycled paper. They feature lay-flat ability due to their sewn bound signatures, and are offered in four sizes.

Research (4″ x 6″ softcover) in Dot Grid, Lined, Blank, or Grid.
Case Study (4″ x 6″ hardcover) in Dot Grid.
Experiment (6.75″ x 9″ softcover) in Dot Grid or Lined.
Hypothesis (7″ x 9″ hardcover) in Grid/Lined or Blank/Lined.

I’ve tried the Experiment and Hypothesis so far. They do also have an extra large hardcover called The Theory, which I have my eye on even though I’m not sure what I’d use it for. Yet…

I love that the hardcovers are waterproof, super sturdy, and have that beautiful satin smooth feel. The paper is 80gsm with 192 pages. The Chemistry Hardcover Journal has dot grid pages. I LOVE that the back has ancient alchemical symbols and chemical characters. I’m using it to jot down experiments in my botanical perfume lab. I only wish this one also came in an option with Blank/Lined pages like the Plants & Fungi Hardcover Journal.

I’ve chosen the Plants & Fungi hardcover to serve as a reading log. Sure I use goodreads, but who is to say that will be around forever? There is something nice about flipping back to a certain year and reading a list written in my own hand of what I read in that time.

I filled the first 23 pages with everything of note that I can remember reading in the past 25 years. Lately I’m reading an average 85 books per year so I anticipate filling about 3 pages per year (6 pages if you count the blank sides, which I’ve decided to use for a place to write some of my favorite quotes from those books). Though it might seem like I read a lot, it will take me almost 24 years, at that rate, to fill the rest of this journal. Needless to say, it was a big decision to choose which journal to use for this purpose. I hope it serves me well.

The softcover journals are 112 pages, 80gsm, and lay flat nicely. If they didn’t that would be a deal-breaker for me. I opted for the lovely bee journal, more botanical prints (can never have enough botanical!), and a few of the astronomy designs. While I am a plant lover, I am also very much a space geek. There are so many more notebooks from this line that I want to get! I chose the lined paper for most of these and use them for various different projects such as book reviews, product formulation, novel writing etc.

If plants, planets, and glass beakers aren’t your thing, they also have designs featuring things like nuclear energy, anatomy, sea creatures, mathematics, fossils etc. I totally have my eye on their dinosaur notebooks, too!

I really love how these look, how they feel, and how they’re all so different and yet are so cohesive if you’re going to own more than one. Whether you have a stack of three different sizes with the same design, or five different designs all in the same size, they look organized without being boring.

They also have many other items that make perfect gifts for those with similar scientific interests. I purchased these with a Christmas gift card, but as soon as my budget allows, I’ll definitely be placing another order! Stemless wine glasses with the night sky on them, anyone?

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