This is the wonderfully twee diary I bought for 2014:
Now, really, it is a perpetual diary, so it isn't for 2014 in particular. I have to add the days to the dates hence there's nothing twenty-fourteen-ish to it, except having been on my radar almost for the entirety of 2013. You can find it online from multiple retailers, but I bought mine from Ladurée at Harrods, which meant I later realised it is an authentic French almanac, while the ones in Waterstone's and on Amazon are in English (so bear this in mind if you're French-challenged).
I like it a lot not merely because of my visceral love for all things Ladurée-related, chief amongst them the Marie Antoinette macaroon, a limited edition which I hope will make another appearance in the spring, but because it's filled with recipes, dictons and tips for entertaining and, yes, eating. I like it that the paper is thick and matte and that the illustrations are whimsical and delicate. Blimey, I sound tragically Hello Kitty on this one.
And talking of Kitty, I find the purchasing of a diary so difficult, so fraught with internal debate, so rooted in my intrinsic dislike of committing to anything for an entire year that I start scouring offerings in August, if not earlier. Ultimately, I think of a diary in the Anne Frank sense of it, in the sense of a journal that becomes your friend and confidant.
Thing is, I've never been that person and never had that sort of Kitty in my life. My diary has often been a tragic mixture of food lists and waxing appointments, of weather observations and quotations, of snippets of my thoughts immediately crossed out. I think that the best diary I ever had was an emerald green Smythson one for the year 2008. But I should confess that I probably single it out not because Smythson makes marvellous diaries but because I was diligent in filling its pale blue pages with thoughts and daily detritus. It turned into a portable scrapbook punctured with some truly dreadful navel gazing. It was the best. We were the best together.
Still, for all of my weighting of the pros and cons of all possible diaries that catch my eye every year, I can tell you that it's difficult to predict how much, if at all, I will gel with a diary. While I know that certain elements doom said relationship to failure before it even begins (spiral binding for one, week-to-view for other), at times an exceptionally promising diary is good for little more than recording one's own nail appointments. Such was the case this year, when I picked up an absolutely delightful diary with countless London watercolours amongst its pages. But... we never did gel. It's on my bedside table and is looking forlorn indeed. Where do unused diaries go, I ask? Are there people out there who fill them up retrospectively?
In any case, here is my pick of diaries (and journals), but act fast, for 2014 is only a few ticks away:
Smythson, always a winner
Aspinal of London, a poor man's Smythson
Louis Vuitton, if you like the practicality of the Filofax but want to be fashion about it
Hermès, as above, but if you want to spend an additional £200
Anya Hindmarch, who does a diary and a journal in one, and personalises it too
The Royal Academy of Arts and The National Gallary, which are fixated on week-to-view formats in impractical papers that are too glossy to write on in gel ink or fountain pen ink (still, you get really glorious images)
One Line A Day diaries by Chronicle Books, of which there are many (for mums, for living well, for tweeting, for thinking... search for them), and which are also perpetual diaries of 3 or 5 years. I saw these booming in the past six months or so. Mine is an 'every day 5-year memory book' which I picked up in October.