Friday, September 2, 2011

Forgotten Bookmarks

It’s hereditary. As I’ve reached a certain age, I’ve realized this tendency has been handed down from generations.

One of the most interesting books I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring was my late grandfather’s journal. I never knew the man. He died when my mother was just eighteen years old. This journal has survived, however, as a precious look into a man who is otherwise known only through my mother’s stories.

While the words he wrote are priceless, I found the myriad of little things stuck into the pages to be just as revealing. He had a fondness for tucking things into the pages or inside the covers - train ticket stubs, notes, photos, letters and whatnot. The book holds a small treasure trove of bits he thought important enough to keep.

My mother is the same way and now I too, find my appointment books and planners stuffed with things I want to keep or need to remember. Nothing is there because of some earth-shattering significance that I hope future generations will discover. Nah. The stuff is just the minutia of everyday living.

I’m sure most of us who tuck things into books think nothing of it. In fact, there’s a fellow named Michael Popek who has created a website about the things people leave behind in books. He works in a used bookshop and has the unique opportunity to sift through old tomes. His website,, features the items he has gathered as a result.

I found the website fascinating, probably because I can both relate to the people who squirreled away things in books and because I really enjoy the treasure-hunt aspect of finding something unexpectedly.

What about you? Do you have a favorite bookmark or are you like me — a person who grabs the nearest thing handy to mark your place?


  1. Talk about coincidences - I had the "proper" bookmark versus whatever's handy discussion with a friend just yesterday! *s* My friend and I both just grab whatever's handy.

    I do actually have a small collection of "proper" bookmarks but I almost never use them. I use old receipts, scraps of paper or last week's shopping list instead. I don't usually leave the "bookmark" in the book after I'm finished, though.

  2. Hey Susan! I use both; my favorite being a lovely book thong made by our own Claire. :)

    But I've been known to stick whatever I have handy in a book to mark the pages. Though I have to say that the most interesting book marker I've come across is when my sister returned a pile of books to me and in one was a photo booth strip of her kissing her boyfriend. Eew. lol.

  3. I have several. One in my bible which my mother made froma piece of cardboard and now resides in my bible. Over the years each one of my children have made some...and now grandchildren. It depends on what I am reading and how I feel about it which decides which one I use.

  4. I much prefer "proper" bookmarks, but I also tend to have index cards lying aroudn for work and will use those. I tend not to use random things like receipts or photos because I just know I'd leave them in. I'd be kinda freaked about some stranger finding my personal photos tucked in a book I donated or sold.

    That blog is brilliant, though. I'm already hooked on it after just one visit.

  5. Helen, LOL! Only a couple of book-lovers would have a conversation like that!

  6. Kristen, heheh! I'm sure THAT was a surprise!

    I'd love to see the bookmark that Claire made. She's a neverending bundle of creativity, isn't she?

  7. JoAnn, I have several keepsake bookmarks, too. I don't actually use them, though.

    One of my favorite ways to make a bookmark is to take a greeting card and cut out the pretty part, or the sentiment, and use that.

  8. Precie - my "proper" bookmarks are usually the free ones that the library gives away at the circulation desk. They're usually clever and colorful and have something to do with books and reading. If I happen to lose one, it's no big deal. But those DO tend to be the only legitimate ones I regularly use.

  9. Raising my hand with shame here to admit that whilst I have book marks (including another of Claire's beautiful creations) I am forever losing them so I mostly end up - gasp - turning down the corner of the page. Bad, bad, I know!

    As for the most interesting thing I've found in a book ... I was recently leafing through an old dictionary of my husband's and lo and behold, inserted in between the pages were a whole stack of Australian one dollar notes. These were taken out of circulation in 1985 and replaced by coins, and I think he put them away hoping they might be worth something, one day ... yeah. Mint condition one dollar notes sell for the princely sum of $1.04 on e-bay, so I don't think we're going to make our fortune any time soon. ;-P

  10. Gasp! Rachel, you're one of those page-benders!? LOL.

    When I was in college, I'd go to the college bookstore and look for the used textbooks that had NO underlining or highlighting in them and had NO bent corners on the pages. I didn't want books with evidence that someone else had been there. :P

    And hey, keep those $1 bills. Maybe when you're old and gray, they'll be worth double $1.04! :O

  11. What a nice thing, to have those journals. I'm a page stuffer too. I hang on to all kinds of bits of paper, bottle caps, etc.
    Love my Claire bookmark! Must remember to remember which book I've left it in [g]
    Arghh! I never turn down the page! Or crack the spine!
    As for money stuffing, my grandmother had a habit for years of slipping "new" bills into books. Someday I'm sure we'll find them all and there'll be a couple of hundred lira scattered all over the books in her house!