The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

It has been coming to my attention recently that a good portion of my viewership is bullet journal beginners and I get a lot of questions regarding my notebook recommendations. While I will always recommend a Leuchtturm 1917 or a Rhodia Goalbook, for the first 3 or 4 years of my bullet journaling journey I used an Essentials Gridline A5 Notebook. Here I will be reviewing the Essentials A5 Notebooks for bullet journal beginners! This post may include affiliate links.

While I used the gridline, Essentials A5 notebooks (made by Peter Pauper Press Inc.) also have dot matrix, blank, and lined page types! I will only be discussing the gridline and dot matrix.


Essentials Notebooks Specs (A5 Gridline & Dot Matrix)

  • 100-gsm acid-free/archival paper preserves your work
  • Inside back cover, pocket holds notes, business cards, etc
  • Elastic band attached to back cover keeps journal closed
  • Ribbon bookmark keeps your place
  • Durable hardcover binding
  • Classic A5 size (5-3/4 inches by 8-1/4 inches)
  • 192 dot-grid pages
  • Available on Amazon: Dot Matrix & Grid)
The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

First Impressions

I started using this notebook so long ago that I do not even remember my first impression, though I have always been impressed with the notebook. I just happened to be lucky, and the essentials notebooks were the first I happened across when I went out to actually search for a bullet journal. My first journal was different, but I had not bought that notebook for bullet journaling originally.

I would love to hear what your first impressions of the essentials notebook are! Submit them in the comments below, and I might add them to this post!

The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

Pros & Cons of the Essentials Notebooks

Like any other notebook or product, there are pros and cons. This section will focus on my personal pros and cons for the Essentials notebook after years of use.

Pros:

  • Hardcover is durable
  • Elastic band keeps the notebook from getting damaged and bent
  • Pocket in the back is a great place to store loose notes
  • Thick, smooth pages make ink look vibrant and write smooth
  • White pages (this could be a con if you prefer off-white)
  • Great price for the quality (generally around $9-$12; equivalent notebooks can run as high as $30)

Cons:

  • Only one color choice – black
  • Pages are not numbered (this can be a pain if you like to have an index)
  • Only one ribbon, some people prefer two (you can easily add a second ribbon DIY style)

Final Impression

Do I recommend this notebook? YES, 100% yes. I particularly recommend this notebook for beginners because it’s a great quality notebook to learn in without being worried about ruining an expensive notebook. I used this notebook for the first 4ish years of bullet journaling, it’s perfect. The most significant and really only issues I have with the Essentials notebooks is the lack of page numbers and color options. However, if you are into a plain black journal, don’t mind adding your own page numbers (or don’t use them) then there should be no issue! I create all my gifted notebooks using the essentials notebooks, and everyone always raves about them.

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Rhodia Goalbook Review for Bullet Journaling

I know, I know you read this title and thought, “but the Goalbook is not new” … So, I am late to the game! I was lucky enough to be gifted the Rhodia Goalbook from J. B. Welly at the end of 2017 and immediately began planning out how I would use my new notebook. Unfortunately, I had already started a new journal for my regular planning, collections, and lists for 2018, so I decided that my new Goalbook would be used for blog-related planning outside of my daily planning bullet journal. This is my review of the Rhodia Goalbook for Bullet Journaling.

What drew me to the Rhodia Goalbook was the excellent reviews that I read. Everyone was raving about it. However, I had not yet taken the leap to spend money on a good quality notebook. When I got in touch with J. B. Welly, they offered it to me, and I jumped at the opportunity!

Rhodia Goalbook Review

Rhodia Goalbook Specs

  • 8 x 8.3 inches
  • 90gsm ivory brushed vellum paper made in Étival-Clairefontaine, France
  • 6-page index or table of contents
  • 4-pages for annual planning
  • 4-pages for monthly planning
  • 240 pages (224 dot grit numbered sheets)
  • Pocket inside the back cover
  • Elastic closure band
  • 2 ribbon markers
  • Flexible binding
  • Softcover (16 available colors!)
  • Available at J*B Welly

First Impressions

So, when the Rhodia Goalbook first arrived I was blown away! It was beautifully packed and included a very nice little card from J. B. Welly. Immediately I took pictures and swooned over the notebook. I love the feel of the cover and indented details on the front cover. Additionally, the pages feel lovely and are numbered! I have never used a notebook that was already numbered before!

While the Goalbook comes in various colors, I chose raspberry because it seemed like a beautiful red-ish-pink color, and it is! Once I realized that the inside covers, elastic, and ribbons were orange (a color I don’t particularly care for), I decided to change that. One of the first things I did with my notebook (other than ogle at it), was to dye the ribbons and elastic with a black sharpie. I enjoy neutral colors, and I just happened to have a black sharpie on hand.

Next, I had to do something about my orange inside covers. I decided to cover the orange with gold washi tape!

Pros & Cons of the Rhodia Goalbook

Like any other notebook or products, there are pros and cons. This section will focus on my personal pros and cons for the Rhodia Goalbook after three months of use.

Pros:

  • The flexible soft faux leather cover is excellent. Make using the notebook pleasant
  • Elastic band keeps the notebook from getting damaged and bent
  • Pocket in the back is a great place to store loose notes
  • Beautiful colors to choose from
  • Thick, smooth pages make ink look vibrant and write smooth
  • Pages are numbered

Cons:

  • There is a Logo on the cover. This one isn’t a big deal, I just like sleek plan covers.
  • Off-white pages make it difficult to fix mistakes. I generally use white-out to cover my mistakes, but the whiteout makes an error look worse on the off-white pages
  • Orange inside cover and ribbons (but I fixed this DIY style)
Customizable Hand-Drawn Bullet Journals

Final Impression

After having used the Rhodia Goalbook for three months, I’d say that I love the notebook and I don’t love it. I absolutely adore the cover and quality of the pages. The dots and numbered pages are great, and the elastic band, ribbons, and back pocket are immensely useful! The most significant downside to this notebook is the off-white pages. But page color is entirely up to user preference, I just happen to prefer white pages.

Do I recommend this notebook? YES, 100% yes. If you don’t like off-white pages this notebook might not be for you, but considering all the other great qualities it has, you might be able to overlook the page color. Other than the page color, the notebook is fantastic! Head over to J.B. Welly to get the Rhodia Goalbook and other amazing bullet journaling supplies!

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