I decided I wanted to give grandparent journals to the parents and in-laws for Christmas, and began reading the reviews for the many books. I have a rather comprehensive genealogy already done, so I wasn't too interested in getting the whole "family tree" aspect. Instead, I wanted insight into the person's childhood and adulthood, and perhaps some little personal nuggets that would really flesh them out for me, my kids, and generations to come.
At Any rate, I still couldn't figure out which one I wanted (sometimes those "look inside" things are just useless, showing copyright pages and blank sheets!), and of course the local book stores don't have all of them. I decided the only way I could decide which was right was to buy them all, look at them, and return the ones I didn't like as well. So, I bought Grandmother Remembers a Written Heirloom for My GrandchildA Grandparent's Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words, A Grandparent's Book, The Grandmother Book: A Book About You for Your Grandchild, Grandparents Journal, and Memories for My Grandchild. I'm planning to review them all as I make my decision.
A Grandparent's Book is hardcover, standard (not spiral) binding. I like the spiral bindings better for this kind of book, as the pages can lay flat to allow for writing easier. The paper is a lighter weight than the other books I've looked at, but it's still good quality, from what I can tell. The paper has a smooth, matte finish, so you would think it would accept all types of pens.
This is the first one of these books that I've seen which has family trees (his and hers) on the inside front and back covers. That's a kind of neat use of those usually wasted parts of the book. The book is designed for only one person to fill it out, but is also set up so that it can be given to either a grandmother or grandfather. If you want questions designed specifically for what would traditionally be a woman's role (eg some books ask for family recipes, or the latest fashion trend when she was growing up), then this probably isn't the book for you. This is written in the ask-a-question,-get-the-answer format (as opposed to the we-start-the-sentence-for-you,-you-finish-it style). Each page is set up with a question, then several lines to answer the question, then another question. Questions cover about half of each page; the bottom half of each page is a blank area for "notes". I'm not sure what the other reviewer was talking about to say it had "absolutely no space" to answer questions. While it doesn't allow for paragraphs of free flowing thought, it does allow for brief-ish answers. They put enough thought into it to allow small spaces for quick answers, and larger spaces for more involved questions. It covers a tremendous amount of ground in its 143 pages, leaving only 7 pages in the back as "memorabilia" pages, so if you want this to be more of a scrapbooking effort, then this is not the book for you. Questions are far-ranging from the mundane (in high school years, did you belong to any clubs, eg) to the thoughtful (eg, "who or what has been the most important help to you in your work?"). Just flipping through the book, looking at the questions, is rather exhausting, forget having to answer them all!
The inside is relatively spare. Other than the family trees being drawn as trees, there are no illustrations, photos or designs. Each chapter is heralded by one page with the chapter title. Each following page then uses about an inch of the top of the page to print "A Grandparent's Book" in flowing script, followed again by the chapter title. Perhaps they should have devoted that space to space for answering questions, instead of reminding grandparents what book they were looking at.
I appreciate the thoroughness of this book, and can't say that there's anything I actively dislike about this book. I just can't really say that there's anything I love about this book, either, when comparing it to the others I bought. I would probably put this book in the middle of the pack.