Keeping My Place

I’m the sort of person who keeps bookmarks. I don’t mean collects them, I mean I keep them handy. Whenever I’ve picked up a book to read and I come to stopping point and need a bookmark, I just open a drawer or look on a shelf nearby, and there will be bookmarks.

I don’t understand people who say they can never find a bookmark. Many of the bookmarks I have came with a book, from a bookstore. Smaller, indie bookstores love to have bookmarks printed up with their design and logo. When you buy a book, the person who checks you out will slide a store-brand bookmark into the book. I’ve even been to bookstores were every book on the shelves already has a bookmark slipped into it, inside the front cover. Whoever does the stocking and shelving is very diligent.

The store brand bookmarks are usually just a plain piece of heavy paper. With the name of the store they usually have an address and phone number. Today it may also include a website and email address. Some will have a quote or the shop motto. “Resources for Growth and Inspiration” says one. “Keeping Ideas in Circulation™️” says another, from a used book store.

Libraries will sometimes have stacks of bookmarks for free, too. I am the sort of person who will grab two, one for the book I’m checking out and one just to put in a drawer, in case I need one.

I have a few bookmarks that fit the definition of a proper bookmark, in that they aren’t slips of heavy paper that you’re expected to lose or discard. These are the ones made of sturdier material, and some have tassels. Bookmarks with tassels are handy for larger books, because a slip of heavy paper might get jostled and slip down between the pages. The tassel prevents that. The problem I have with tasseled bookmarks is that the bits of string or whatever dangling out can catch on things. Back in the day they would often get tangled in the wires of spiral-bound notebooks. The bad thing about that is how I could be taking the book out, or looking for something in my backpack, the tassel would catch, and the bookmark would be yanked clean out of the book. I hate when that happens, because it means I have to guess where I was, and then flip back and forth until I found a place I remembered reading. Most of the proper bookmarks I have were gifts from people who know I loved to read books. I don’t think I’ve actually purchased more than a half-dozen bookmarks. Why would I buy one, when I get all I need and more, free for the asking.

Some of my bookmarks are from stores that don’t exist any more. I miss those bookstores when I find one of their bookmarks.

A good portion of the books on my shelves have bookmarks in them. That’s usually an indicator that I got to that point in the book and put it aside with little intent of coming back to it. When I put it on a shelf I leave the bookmark in. Maybe I’ll finish it, someday.

Some of my books have two bookmarks. These are typically the books with endnotes, or glossaries. My system, when reading a book that requires me to flip to the back to check a note, is to keep a bookmark corresponding to where I last checked, which roughly moves in step with my “main” bookmark, the one keeping my place in the book itself. I also have a few cookbooks, and they tend to have multiple bookmarks. Recipes I want to find again easily.

Sometimes I’ll take a book off one of my bookshelves and find a bookmark tucked into pages where it slid into invisibility. Sometimes there will be one just in the inside cover. Of course sometimes I find other things in my books. Notes from whenever back then, slips of paper or something.

I tell you all this about bookmarks not because I think you’ll be fascinated by it, or to reveal a secret about me. I love to read books, and I own hundreds. That’s not a secret. I’m writing this because I it’s been almost two months since I blogged here, and maybe you’re wondering if I gave up. I stepped away for a bit, but I kept my place.