A little while back I wrote a review of the Roaring Springs composition notebook entitled “The Indian Marmalade Company Is Proud To Present Dr Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Notebooks.”
When I wrote this, I had no idea that just over two years later I would be writing Part 2 but then again at that time I didn’t know the ‘Genius & Be Smart’ notebooks existed.
I first came across the Be Smart notebook when it was out of stock at The Writing Desk and I thought no more about it until I dropped into a local bookstore and spotted the bigger ‘Genius at Work’ version and the first thing that popped in to my head was Sheldon saying “Leonard, prepare to be humbled and weep at the glory of my genius.”
Needless to say, standing alone in a bookstore giggling to yourself does attract nervous glances from the other patrons but I was too busy to notice as I was thinking that this was definitely a notebook Sheldon would use. I bought the Genius notebook and a short while later acquired a Be Smart notebook and Part 2 of Fun With Notebooks was born.
Right, now you know how this all started it’s time to talk about the notebooks.
The notebooks are made by the Italian company Legami who make a very extensive range of notebooks in all sorts of designs, bindings and sizes but the ones we are looking at today are the Genius at Work (large) and the Be Smart (A5) ones.
First things first, both notebooks are well made with stiff card covers; the covers are decorated with an assortment of formulas et cetera in black and white on the Genius and mustard and black on the Be Smart. The name of the notebook is upper centre of the front cover and Legami’s logo is lower centre on the rear of the notebook.
Both are stitch bound rather than just glue or staple. The Be Smart being the slimmer notebook has its pages stitched directly to the cover which means the notebook will only open flat when you apply a force and flex the spine. This is easy enough to do and means you can then use the full width of the page when writing.
However, the Genius is a lot thicker; it is made up of stitched sections that are glue bound to the cover, but, like the Be Smart it also requires a small degree of force to improve how far it opens but once applied it allows you to use most of the width of the page.
The Genius being larger has a full-sized pocket attached to the inner side of the rear pocket and a good elastic closure which is fitted in such a way as not to cause an unnecessary bump that would interfere with writing when you get close to the end of the notebook.
When it comes to the actual paper, Legami use FSC paper in both of these notebooks but as far as paper is concerned this is where the similarity ends.
The Be Smart has 80 pages (160 sides) of white 100gsm paper; the line spacing is 7mm and printed in light grey. The line printing is not full width but has a blank margin around all four sides. The paper itself is very smooth and past the Diamine Oxford Blue ink test with flying colours; no bleed through, ghosting et cetera from either the Q-Tip or pen test. Neither was there any feathering or feedback when writing on the paper nor, despite it being very smooth paper, did it take any longer than normal for the ink to dry.
The Genius uses a different FSC paper and has 160 pages (320 sides) of 120gsm paper, the last 24 pages are removable. Legami have done really good job of making the pages easily removable; the perforation holes are just under 1mm in width and when tested the page came away cleanly and with no effort at all.
As with the Be Smart the Genius has 7mm line spacing but instead of light grey the it has blue full width lining. Despite being a thicker paper, it seems to be more absorbent than the Be Smart and I did get some show through on part of the Q-Tip test, but the written test was fine.
So, what do I think of them?
I think they would definitely appeal to Sheldon, particularly the Genius at Work version. I think they are well built and constructed from good quality materials and Legami have invested time in the design which is particularly evident when you look at the perforations on the removable pages. For me, this is a guide to how much thought has gone into the notebook and in this case, it has been done very well.
The variety of cover designs show that Legami have worked really hard to create a range in which there is not only something for everyone but also something for use on any occasion.
If there was one thing I could change it would be the paper in the Genius; I would swap it out for the paper in the Be Smart which, I think, just looks so much better than the full width blue lining and was more fountain pen friendly than the Genius paper.
Finally, do I think they are worth spending your pennies on?
At approximately £12.99GBP for the Genius and £2.49GBP for the Be Smart they are excellent value; and whilst not 100% fountain pen proof they should be suitable for most other types of pen.
Of the two of them the next one I will buy will be the Be Smart mainly because it’s light, the right size for my bag and I prefer paper.
Disclaimer: The notebooks were purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.