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The Best Diaries

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🕚 Updated December 2022

Trying to organize the thoughts in your head? It's time to upgrade with one of these diaries to journal your ideas.

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  Best Leather-bound Best with Lock Best Refillable Best for Travel Best Designs
Genuine Leather Daily Diary Notebook
Locking Vintage Leather Diary
Komal's Passion
Tree of Life Refillable Leather Diary
Peter Pauper Press
Page-A-Day Artisan Travel Journal
Embossed Leather Antique Diary
Our SummaryA genuine leather notebook that's perfect for penning thoughts and planning for the future.A journal with a three-digit lock that could have hundreds of different combinations.A stylish journal with endless uses thanks to the refillable paper option.This page-a-day journal is great for documenting your adventures.A stylish diary that comes with a matching pen and that makes a great gift.
Pros✓ Genuine leather
✓ Can be refilled
✓ Available in two sizes and colors
✓ Locking design
✓ Comes in eight colors
✓ Refillable design
✓ Available in two designs
✓ Refillable paper
✓ Genuine leather cover
✓ Includes prompts for daily entries
✓ Travel theme
✓ Includes back pocket to hold items
✓ Stylish Phoenix embossed on cover
✓ Comes with pen
✓ Hardback design
Cons✗ Fountain pens may not be compatible with the paper✗ Cover isn't sturdily designed✗ Stitching may come loose on cover✗ Theme is limiting for general purpose diaries✗ Pen isn't the best quality
✗ Not refillable
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8 Hours Researched

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The Best Diaries

Young man in casual clothes sitting on couch with legs crossed, writing down information in red notebook.
VK Studio/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Diaries

Close up partial portrait female author at home writing in journal.

Why buy a diary?

For those who like to write to express themselves, keeping a physical diary is a great way to record memories, thoughts, ideas, secrets, dreams, things you’re thankful for, goals, stories, and feelings. Writing in a diary provides a channel for introspection and meditation and can improve mental health, mood, and memory. Diaries come in many shapes, sizes, and formats to appeal to all types of people.

What should you consider when shopping for a diary?

  • Cover: There are hardcover and softcover journals. This will come down to personal preference, but hardcover ones often seem to last longer, and softcover diaries often are more flexible for easy writing on the go.
  • Size: There are slim journals and pocket-sized journals along with the standard size. If you like to take your diary with you, consider a pocket-sized or slim one for easy portability.
  • Lined: Some journals come with wide or college-ruled pages, while others have blank pages or dotted/grid pages for bullet journaling.
  • Pages: Determine if the diary has enough pages for your needs. The more pages it has, the longer it will last you, after all.

Do you have to get a special notebook for a diary?

In reality, no, you don’t have to. You can opt for a basic spiral notebook if you prefer. However, some people like to use a specialized book that features prompts, images, or a nicer design to optimize their experience. Plus, if you’re a student with a bunch of other notebooks in your backpack, a special diary will be easier to find and grab quickly.

Our Picks for the Best Diaries

Best Leather-Bound

Genuine Leather Journal Writing Notebook

A genuine leather notebook that's perfect for penning thoughts and planning for the future.

Pros: With 240 kraft paper pages and a genuine leather exterior, this is a great starter notebook for both men and women. The rustic, weathered design looks great, and you can choose from two sizes. The unlined sheets are great for writing as well as drawing or bullet journaling. And the size is small enough to fit in your bag.

Cons: While this might not be an issue for everyone, you’ll want to be mindful of the types of pens you use to write in the journal. Those who use fountain pens may find that the ink runs a bit.

Bottom Line: If you love the old-world look of a leather-bound journal, this vintage-inspired pick featuring 240 sheets of rustic kraft paper is a great option.

Best with Lock

Caige Vintage Lock Leather Diary

A journal with a three-digit lock that could have hundreds of different combinations.

Pros: This journal can lock to guard your secrets. Each diary has a unique embossed design and a lock with a three-digit combination option. There are hundreds of combinations available to use. The journal is thick and has 100 sheets (200 pages) of lined paper and seven sheets (14 pages) of blank paper. The front and rear covers have pockets on the inside and can be refilled with paper. It works well with almost any pen, including those with high-volume ink.

Cons: Note that this is essentially a paperback journal inserted into a leather cover. The pages aren’t attached to the leather cover.

Bottom Line: For those extra-private thoughts or plans, you can’t go wrong with this diary featuring a lock.


Best Refillable

Tree of Life Leather Journal with Refillable Lined Paper

A stylish journal with endless uses thanks to the refillable paper option.

Pros: One pain point common across most diaries is that you only have so many pages, and once you’ve finished them, you have to buy a new book. If you’re looking for something more economical, this Tree of Life leather journal is a great alternative, as you can refill the paper and keep using the cover—adding to its longevity. This also means you can choose from lined and unlined paper.

Cons: Some reviewers noted that the stitching on the leather cover might prematurely begin to fail.

Bottom Line: The option to replace paper and continue to use the same journal cover can be an alluring option if you fall in love with a specific diary cover design.


Best for Travel

Page-A-Day Artisan Travel Journal

This page-a-day journal is great for documenting your adventures.

Pros: Some people need a little bit of help to gather their thoughts and create journal entries. So, this page-a-day travel diary is designed with helpful prompts, images, and themes to spark your creativity and get you started. It’ll also help you compare your travel adventures and remember the details.

Cons: While the concept is nice, this is truly intended to be a travel diary. So, some people may find the travel-themed prompts and designs a little limiting.

Bottom Line: Wandering hearts are going to appreciate this page-a-day design that encourages creative thinking and tracking travel memories.


Best Designs

Embossed Leather Writing Notebook

A stylish diary that comes with a matching pen and that makes a great gift.

Pros: If you prefer a hardbound journal that has plenty of shelf appeal, this embossed leather diary is a must-have. It comes with a matching pen and features an iconic phoenix on the cover. There are five other designs to choose from that are all unique and exciting.

Cons: While everyone loved the journal, the pen was polarizing. Some people felt that the ink was inconsistent.

Bottom Line: Whether for gifting or yourself, this is a stylish option for keeping track of your thoughts or engaging in creative writing.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a diary doesn’t have to be an extravagant experience or require a degree in creative writing. All you need is a nice notebook that appeals to your sense of style.

Rachel Shubin Rachel Shubin
Rachel Shubin is a freelance journalist who is passionate about telling stories. Along with writing reviews for LifeSavvy, she writes a book column for Cape May Magazine and is a reporter for the Cape May Star & Wave Newspaper. When Rachel is not writing, she can be found advocating for mental health awareness and animal rescue, reading novels, exploring Cape May, or working on her polymer clay jewelry business, Piper + Pearl Co. Read Full Bio »
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