“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” So said Oscar Wilde – and it’s witticisms like this that remind us how important it is to put pen to paper in this digital age.

You’d be forgiven for thinking everything had gone digital, but paper diaries are still very much in demand.

Whether you need a tiny appointment book to fit into a pocket or handbag or a bigger desk-dwelling tome so that you can properly journal, diaries definitely have a place in the modern world.

On a basic level, a diary is simply a way of keeping organised – remembering events past and present. But there are lots of benefits for keeping a diary including improved memory function.

Those who like to use a diary for journaling will reap even more rewards: journaling is said to decrease symptoms of stress and even asthma, as well as apparently strengthen the immune system.

Increasingly, diaries are becoming more sophisticated. Leatherbound and personalised might feel like a bit of an indulgence, but when you consider that this is going to be your daily companion for the next 12 months it feels totally justified.

There are also a handful of diaries which seek to inspire, inform or educate, with the pages peppered with literature or works of art.

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The Redstone Shop Dreams of Europe Redstone diary: £16.95, The Redstone Shop

Each year the brains behind the Redstone Press, Julian Rothenstein, comes up with another niche but fascinating topic to explore in diary format. In the past there have been diaries dedicated to exploration of time, Russian futurism and therapy.

But regardless of topic, the size and format of the Redstone Diary never changes: it is the same size (245 mm x 167mm ), paperback with rounded corners and ring bound. On each spread there is something beautiful and interesting to look at or read – a photo, a poem, a quote – and a week’s view opposite with a decent amount of space to write notes rather than reams. What is so brilliant about the all of the Redstone Diaries – and 2020’s is no different – is that everything included is unusual or obscure even to those who fancy themselves as supremely cultured.

This year it is no coincidence that the diary’s focus is on Europe in all her glory and through text and image – including photographs of Brigette Bardot on the beach or Pablo Picasso brooding with a cigarette, as well as beautiful passage from the diary of Italian poet Cesare Pavese. Each page turns feels like a surprise – you never know what you could get, but it’ll always be enriching.

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Papier Desmond & Dempsey diary: £21.99, Papier

This Sansindo tiger design for Papier by fancy pyjama makers Desmond & Dempsey is such a potent mix of chic and kitsch that you’d want to snap it up whether it has your name and initials printed across the front or not. To be clear, it has. We like that this is solid while still managing to be slim and diminutive enough to slip into a handbag.

It’s a week-to-view layout, but before the diary properly begins the months are divided up in a month-to-view then subdivided into monthly goals, to do, important dates and wish list which we actually found to be a really useful tool when it comes to bringing the new year into focus. Count the number of green eyes you see when you whip this baby out in a meeting.

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WHSmiths very busy bee diary: £11.99, WHSmiths

This looks much more expensive than it actually is. Not only is it sleek with lovely gold embossing on the front, it is substantially weighty without being cumbersome, or too big to tote about in your handbag. We love the hot pink palette – perfect for those who think subtlety is overrated.

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Moleskine 12 month daily diary and planner: £17.99, Moleskine

A stationery heavyweight, Moleskine delivers brilliant diaries year on year. We love this one, the colour of French mustard and almost small enough for a back pocket. However, despite its small size – it rests nicely in a hand span – it is chunky and compact. There’s a day per page, which makes this suitable for anyone who wants to do more with their diary than jot down appointments or birthdays. A really solid, well-made diary.

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Faber & Faber poetry diary: £12.99, Faber & Faber

For poetry lovers, this is the one. Each left hand side of a spread has a poem or a cover of a Faber poetry collection while on the right is the week, divided up into seven days. There’s something so lovely about being able to start each new week with a poem to consider and then to return to every time you go to remember what time your dentist appointment is or whether your 8am meeting is on Thursday or Friday.

The Faber Poetry diary is essentially a celebration of the publisher’s lauded poetry list, which was stated in the 1920s with TS Eliot at its helm and contains only the best poets. The list has grown considerably since then.

This year’s diary includes poems by renowned masters of the form such as Ted Hughes and Emily Dickinson as well as contemporary poets working today including Hannah Sullivan, whose work is the first in the diary and Emily Berry. There’s a ribbon marker to keep track of the date, and an elasticated strap to close it tightly.

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Noble Macmillan leather diary: £59, Noble Macmillan

Gorgeous from the moment it is presented to you in a luxurious bag, a be-ribboned box and an abundance of tissue paper. But the diary itself, complete with golden embossed initialling on the cover is utterly beautiful. We think the quality of this is remarkable, especially when you consider the relatively low price point. We love the weightiness of this. The blue is a classic choice but if you want to live a little there are four other hues to choose from.

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Rifle Paper Co Wild Rose 2020 academic diary: £32.50, Oliver Bonas

Not only is this diary very pretty, it is also large – we’d say one for the desk or backpack. But it does fit an awful lot in: 17 months to be exact. Given that this is an academic planner which started in August 2019 (if we had to be critical we’d say it’s slightly confusing to have “2020” across the front for a diary which straddles two years).

Inside, it’s basically nirvana for the perpetually organised. It’s a week-to-view layout with each day being split into bulleted lines – for short entries rather than personal essays. There are laminated tabs – for individual months but also for important dates notes and contacts. And that’s not all. There are sheets of stickers in the back – think painterly emojis of floral bouquets or reminders such as “Mental Health Day”.

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Paperchase A5 diary: £12, Paperchase

Super slim with an ultra-feminine palette and golden pen to boot, this is one of the most attractive choices. It uses a week-to-view layout, with plenty of space for each day. There’s a ribbon marker and a paper marker, but this is really a completely straightforward diary. It’slightweight without feeling cheap or flimsy.

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Folio Society diary: £15.95, Folio Society

This week to view hardback could easily be fairly judged by its cover which is simply lovely, featuring a design by artist, Sandra Rivola. Inside, it’s a week to view with full colour illustrations throughout by some of the most talented artists to ever have featured in Folio society books, including Fay Dalton’s retro illustrations for the Folio Society’s Ian Fleming tomes. This is most definitely transportable and would fit easily into all but the smallest handbags. There’s a ribbon marker and a place for notes, too. Aa a piece of art in itself, you’ll be disappointed when the year is over.

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The verdict: 2020 diaries

Our favourite is The Redstone Diary, simply because there’s nothing else quite like it, ensuring your year is completely unforgettable.

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