Exploring the city in style: Moleskine city books

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I am an inveterate bargain-hunter. I constantly search for good deals, reveling over the occasional clearance sale, the outstanding discount store, or the great thrift-store find. A good eBay auction can leave me reeling for months and, years later, I still fondly reminisce about some of my favorite deals.

I hate to admit it, As addicted as I am to bargains, however, I still, occasionally, pay full price.

I feel like lighting a candle and going to a meeting.

Sometimes, though, a deal or a product is so good that one absolutely has to buy it. Sometimes a product is a great deal, even if it happens to be full-price. This is the case with Moleskine's line of City Notebooks.

Generally the province of hipsters and would-be artistes (including yours truly), Moleskine's standard notebooks come in a variety of sizes, feature beautiful ivory paper, have lovely leatherette bindings, and contain a handy pocket for odds and ends. They claim a spurious pedigree dating back to Hemingway, Van Gogh and Wilde but, regardless of their artistic bona fides, Moleskines are nicely constructed and the small one fits perfectly in a pants pocket. They're a little on the pricey side, but are one of those little luxuries that are worthy of a splurge.

Recently, however, Moleskine kicked it up a notch. They've come out with a series of city-themed notebooks that look like the standard Moleskine books, but contain city street maps, public transportation maps, tabbed areas for restaurant reviews, and various areas for jotting down random thoughts. They also have specially-sized sheets of tracing paper that one can use for personalizing the city maps and blank tabs that one can use for personalizing the book. For the intrepid urban explorer, they are the perfect platform for creating a unique tour guide to a wide range of cities. As a resident of the City that never sleeps, I've gotten the New York one and have already found it to be an invaluable resource. Even if you don't live in a city, you might consider picking one up before making a visit; it's the perfect way to remember your favorite restaurants, attractions and quiet little spots.

Moleskine currently offers city notebooks for 22 major international cities, and is rolling out another 18 in 2008. I've seen them sell for as much as $22, although I picked mine up for $16.95. This made me feel like quite the savvy shopper, at least until I saw them at the Strand for $12.71.

Oh, well.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and co-author of Military Lessons of the Gulf War and A Chronology of the Cold War at Sea.

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