A few weeks ago when I picked up my 8 year-old grandson from primary school I noticed he had a plaster on his knee. ‘What happened there?’ I asked. ‘I found a plaster in a reading book and I put it on because I needed one.’
Elastoplast! Of course, the ideal bookmark. So what else do people find in books to mark their page, I wondered.
From my internet research
Here’s what Margaret Kingsbury found in pre-read books, as a buyer for a used bookstore:
- Rubber bands
- Toilet paper
- Handwritten letters
- Family photographs
You can find her comments in a Book Riot post from earlier this year.
And librarians reported that they found these items:
- Bus and theatre tickets
- Wine labels
- Divorce papers
These were reported by Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days and Swimming Lessons, writing in Publishers Weekly. The presence of money in both lists suggests we should be leafing through many more pages as we ponder our next read.
But really people, food? That’s worse than turning down the pages. No really, it is.
Bookmarks I have found
I have found no money, no photos and no food in my books. I have found shopping lists and dried flowers – even dried laurel leaves. There are frequent random slips of paper, cut or torn off something larger but insignificant. I find receipts for the books, or for other items purchased. Not very interesting.
I once found a postcard with details of a change of address in a book I had bought at a second hand store. It seemed poignant, the black and white photograph, the stamp with King George VI’s head, and the neat placing of the two addresses: one for the postman and the other for the recipients. There may have been a story there. What happened when Pauline Jones couldn’t find her friend’s new address? Did they loose touch? I put the card back in the book and have never seen it again.
I tend to use post cards to mark my pages. I expect a fair few have gone to the library, or onto Oxfam’s shelves.
I completed a draft of this post, but within a few days I was in the Oxfam Bookshop when I found this bookmark inside a copy of How it All Began by Penelope Lively. It looks a little special, handmade even, and if you recognise it and want it back get in touch with me via the comments.
One of the characters in my novel [yes I’m still revising it] hides a letter from her lover between the pages of Anna Karenina. The working title of the novel is The Uses of Secrecy. One person’s bookmark is another‘s secret.
Persephone Books provide bookmarks when you buy from their stores. They match the endpapers. Full marks to Persephone Books for understanding the importance of the bookmark. This glorious bookmark for The Squire by Enid Bagnold is Magnolia, from a design for cotton and rayon from 1936.
Over to you …
What do you use to mark your page? What have you found in books?
To subscribe and receive email notifications of future posts on Bookword please enter your email address in the box.