I started with those Mead pads with the spelling words on the covers. Then I found a pad of paper that had a strong back. Unfortunately, they were hard to find and soon were only available with Yellow paper. I found this one odd pad, overdesigned (steel backing???) and destined as a faddish product.
Then - by accident - I discoverd Oh Boy Notebooks in a paper products store in Chicago. Everything I was looking for, even when I didn't know I was looking for it, was in it:
- strong back and front covers
- good, thick paper with perfect lines
- a place to stick your pen
Unfortnately, the company stopped printing books soon after I discovered it.
Went a couple years with what I had (Bought a few. Gave a couple out as gifts. Regreted that decision). Then, finally, I found this entry in the Obvious Diversion weblog talking about a possible replacement. Not quite, but it can work and it actually works well as a sketchbook and practice drafting book.
As you can tell in the comments section, I soon found there were some new Oh Boy! Notebooks. Bought a bunch, and while I'll still give out gifts I've made sure I got plenty for myself.
Anyway, here's the links for you to go and buy the notebooks before these makers run out: