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February 07, 2011


Frank Moorhouse

Steve, today I sent to you and Lori though the Cservice email address a homage to Levenger which I wrote and which appeared last month in a book published by the Fryer Library of the University of Queensland, Australia about things it holds in its collection. It connects well with your blog about the relationship of material objects and the processes of thinking and creativity.

As a trekker and user of maps I enjoyed very much the Thoreau story-- even 1:25,000 scale maps reveal a little of the mysteries and delights of rugged country.

very best, Frank Moorhouse

Linda Davidson

Although I sometimes miss the solitude, I believe I would be handicapped with the absence of my iPhone.


There was recent research that showed that people who actually wrote out words remembered them better than those who simply read them or typed them.

If you think about it, there is nothing mystical about this, we are physical animals and our physical motions are really tightly coupled to our brains. The very fact that the brain must create the motions to form the word helps to embed the concept in memory. Even doodling during a lecture has been shown to improve memory.

I guess that's why a writing tool is still part of my thinking process even though I am an IT pro in a digital world (I got started as a draftsman back in the '70s; sharpening lead on sandpaper is a serious commitment to linework)

My point is, that it's not an either/or world. The speed and power of electronics is quite compatible with physical act of writing and drawing. Just use them both.

Mike Bollinger

Hi Steve - As my library of hardback books grows and my IPAD library is just in the making, what do you recommend (system and/or process) to digitize my books. I will never be able to give them up but I do find my budding IPAD library appealing. Thanks for any suggestions.

stephen Blaufuss

Steve, I love my maps. I love my journals, and fountain pens. I live in the digital age, but, will that last for my nieces and nephews in decades to come? My brother and I take annual trips to National Parks. We hike and settle into historic lodges that Teddy R. visited. I resist going paperless. I want to leave a legacy of journals and maps the likes Stanley and Livingston left us. I continually get ooohs and ahhhs on my plumpster fountain pen. Single-handedly, I am trying to return old world charm to a digital age.

Dr Charlie Gillenwater

I enjoyed your email this morning as for me, I could not get along without my pocket briefcase and pen. I make notes on everything and post them in a 3X5 file on my desk. They are dated and stay in the file until either completed by due date, or deposed of in three months from writing them. I love my Ipod, my Kindle, my computer, but give me physically my notes and pen and I'm fine.

Charles B

As a buyer and seller of used, out-of-print books, my most useful tools are a rather soft (No. 2) pencil and a good eraser, generally grey in color. I use these to convey information about each book to be sold on the first free endpaper (fep), to include date of publication, whether it is a first edition and other information about its contents as to whether it is illustrated, contains Notes, Bibliography and/or Index. And, of course, the price is always noted in the upper right corner.

Valdez Deboe

The things I can't do without are my grid Moleskine journal and pen. I am constantly sketching ideas down, writing down life's lessons or a quote that I love. I draw the designs by hand, scan and then use Photoshop to enhance. They then become part of my weekly message called the weekly "warmzzie"

Claire Phillips

While I love my Android phone and the many applications it has, there is still something to be said about a paper calendar spread out so that I can see the full month at a glance. There is still something about jotting down notes with pen and paper (including immediate access when taking messages). There is a deep satisfaction in a handwritten letter on quality stationery with a good fountain pen (or pen of your choice). There is still something about holding a book in my hands, and writing notes in the margins or highlighting key passages. This is particularly true of my Bibles. I feel sorry for the generations that have not, or will not be able to capture and savor those feelings.

Aaron Andrews

Even though I don't think I could do without my BlackBerry, I can't live without my DayTimer or my Circa Notebooks either. Like you said in the article, I too just think better with a fountain pen and good paper!

Maria Lima

I'm useless without some sort of notebook--even though I am a techie, when I'm writing my books, I tend to mindmap/scribble notes on paper first.

Circa notebooks, Filofax, even those cheap hard cardboard- bound Mead ruled notebooks we used in college.

An archivist friend of mine has told me to keep everything (for possible future archiving in her library's collection), so I have bins and bins of these notebook pages, notebooks and sketch pads. :)

Ruth G

For 8 years I have written daily in Levenger's leather Infinity journal, ordering refills periodically. Just about to complete refill #16, I have just discovered Levenger no longer carries the Infinity journal, a fact that distresses me significantly more than I might have thought. I don't want to lose my daily companion. What to do?!

Carol Dodd

You mentioned when reading a physical book you need a pen. For me it's a pencil to make notes and "flags" to mark all sorts of things. One color is for looking up meaning of words (not necessary on my Kindle), another is for books/magazine articles/music/etc. that I just may want to purchase, and still another color is for outstanding ideas I want to remember. Sometimes when I have time I actually enter them into a spreadsheet of "ideas." In traveling I cannot do without my laptop; daily it's my BlackBerry. But it's my IPod that I really need as I have several playlists that put me to sleep--yes, I wear earbuds in bed. Thanks for your great thoughts in your emails!

judy l goodirch

My fountain pen and ink (my stub nib pen preferably) and Circa notebook are always in my backpack wherever I go. I use a computer all day long at my job, but my notebook and pen are always alongside, to jot down any information I want to remember. I cannot imagine doing without them.

Steve Leveen

Dear Frank and others,

Thank you for the email you sent; we're tracking it down now and I sure look forward to reading it.

All of you have written such delightful and insightful comments. I feel the yearning for balance among technologies, both the newest ones and the classic ones of pen and paper. There's a deep desire that I share with all of you to bring, as Stephen writes, "old world charm to a digital age."

Mike, as for digitizing your library, I love Shelfari and other such tools for keeping track of your library in the cloud. See also Good Reads and Library Thing. They bring a powerful benefit to readers. We can keep our paper "real" library one place in the world, yet have our virtual library anywhere in the world. Beautiful!

All best and let's continue the dialog.


Ridge Walker

My moleskine wrapped in a Gfeller leather case and a Sailor Realo fountain pen with an EF point get used every day. Life slows down when I write. Clarity and insights emerge that otherwise would be hidden. Over twenty volumes document the path taken.

Steve Leveen

To Ruth G--Yes, I loved our Infinity Journal too. But don't despair. I had our merchants research some alternatives for you, and they have three: our Five-Year Journal, the Ledgerdomain, and the Desk Journal Refills (which can also hold their own as journals). I hope one of them becomes your new treasured object.

All best wishes,

Orlando Graves

As an object that inspires me I am not sure. But surely it is an object that demands that I focus when I sit down to work. I am thinking of my Pomodoro timer. I can work with a timer on my screen or on my iPhone but the plastic kitchen timer is certainly the most satisfying of my options. Now if Levenger were to create one with noble materials that would certainly be an object of desire!

Dr. Ray Penn

In terms of an object that makes me more efficient, it would have to be large pieces of blank paper, the bigger the better. I use large art sketching pads to plot out my ideas before writing and even use them as for notes when I am lecturing or preaching.
In terms of an object that inspires me, I have a marble doorknob that came off a door in my grandmother's grocery store on my desk at all times. It reminds me that my life has been changed by the doors I opened and the doors I walked past.

Linda Cantrell

I don't think I could survive without my Nantucket Lapreader. I actually use it on my desk to hold my daily planner, Circa foldover notebook [which holds my life], cell phone, True Writer signature pen, 4 x 6 cards, 3 x 5 cards, highlighter, staple remover, and a pen for customers to use. I also have the Nantucket revolving holder that holds everything else I could possible use.

Melvin Howe

It is not difficult to choose just one thing which aids inspiration for me. A pen has always been an effective tool in creating and tracking ideas. Most of the pens in my modest collection are from Levenger and I value them highly.

Victoria Manning

As a therapist, I have lots of paperwork - filling out progress notes and therapy goals. On days which seem like they will never end, it is always comforting to use a wonderful pen. Workdays are inspired by my beautiful leather brief bag, notebook cover and pocket briefcase. I love the feel of books, their smell, and the satisfaction of seeing the bookmark make its way through the book. Highlighters, flags and marginal notations make the book truly mine. I am a " thing" person and tend to collect pens, leather goods, notebooks, etc. And did I mention the intoxicating smell of new leather?

All that being said, my iPhone and iPad are also dear companions and I nurture them with a plethora of decadent stands, cases and tools. I relish my digital experiences as well as my actual ones. Basically, I enjoy life in all the nooks and crannies of possibility!

Victoria Manning

I just had a thought.... I was unemployed for a while. One of the things that kept me on task with my arduous job search was using some of my fine Levenger tools. Since so many are unemployed, perhaps to design a form that could be used to track job search efforts, reporting, contacts, etc. would be a marketable idea. Maybe even at a special budget friendly price...a special folder or notebook...

In my therapy practice, journal keeping is highly favored. Writing in a beautiful, quality journal gives the writer the subliminal message that she's worth it... I encourage my clients to reward themselves with quality things.
Learning what you like is a way to get to know yourself. And that is good.

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