I couldn´t live without a notebook. That´s probably why i couldn´t grasp the lifestyle aspect of it when Moleskines became so freaking popular. And while the Moleskine Cahier is a thing of beauty and the Field Notes books are probably the coolest looking, they are somewhat expensive considering what you get. Maybe a high price or limited editions are needed in order to achieve a life in style.
When school starts in France, the local Carrefour supermarket just over the border from where i live, stocks an abundance of pens, papers and “office stuff” for the students. The prices are actually quite low. One item that seems to be stocked any time of the year, is the Oxford Infinium notebook. It retails for only 83 euro-cents and sports 48 pages of super smooth 90gr graph paper in the basic format of 9 by 14 centimeters.
What makes the Infinium special is it´s covering material. It is absolutely tearproof (tried it), completely impervious to dirt and soft and pliable at the same time. I´m not sure as to how the cover will handle the heat of being left on a dashboard in summer, but if you like to cramp your notebooks in the backpocket of your pants or if you need one for long-term usage, this product is for you. It also “feels” quite nice to the touch. These notebooks come in different colors, but i have not found ruled or plain paper editions. They feature two staples in the back, i always add a third at home for stability.
If you prefer the feel of the more conservative Moleskine Cahier but want something less expensive, you should check out the more “stylish” (ruled) Piece-Of-Paper Notes by Oxford. An overview of those can be found here : http://www.cahier-oxford.com/avivre/index.asp, the coolest being the tall 9 x 17 cm “Elegance for Men”.