What do you use for a Bookmark?

I ran across a really interesting book/website yesterday when a customer asked for it (we didn’t have a copy, sadly).

Forgotten Bookmarks is a collection of things found or used as pagemarkers in old and used books. The author is a bookseller, and I can definitely relate to the sheer curiosity of things found in old books. Sometimes it’s a little bit like looking into someone’s life (especially if the bookmark is a card, letter, or plane ticket stub). While I haven’t seen the actual book yet, I’ve wasted a good bit of time poking through the website and looking at all the ephemera that Michael Popek has collected.

It’s kind of voyeuristic, in a way that Post Secret used to be, in that you’re looking at these little tidbits of people’s lives.

I know I’ve seen things at the buy counter that have made me wonder where the person was from and what they were like – both in the collection of books they bring and in the odds and ends that get left behind when people clean house. The most poignant was someone’s collection of refrigerator magnets, a whole life in pictures and souvenir magnets all tossed in a plastic grocery sack. (Those didn’t get thrown out, thankfully) The books with inscriptions, especially meaningful ones, I usually try to point out to the seller – often they don’t care, if their items are just from someone’s storage unit or from a distant relative, but sometimes they choose to keep them.

This is probably the hardest part about buying books from the public. I’m essentially putting a value on someone’s memories, and I have to help them see that those memories don’t really go along with the books. Two copies of a novel, one which sat on a shelf and one that was carefully read by someone’s favorite aunt are still just two copies of a novel to the store.

On the other hand, things like forgotten bookmarks can be really interesting ties to the past – receipts from college bookstores in the 50’s, a notecard with a list of books on it. These things aren’t really personal memories, but they’re interesting tidbits none the less.

As such, I can’t decide if I should order Forgotten Bookmarks… or just wait for it to come into the store, used, and see if there’s anything fun left inside it.

How many bookmarks do YOU need?

Working at a bookstore, I run into a lot of books that I want to read. In fact, my “to read” list has gotten longer, and longer, and longer the more I’ve worked there. We’re allowed to keep a stash shelf in the store of things we intend to either read and return (we can check books out for 30 days) or purchase in one chunk later on.

Needless to say, it’s taken a bit of willpower not to pour my paycheck back into the store, even with the snazzy employee discount I get. Especially since I tend to be in the middle of a bunch of books all at once.

On my list right now:

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (need to actually finish this) – Scott Lynch
  • Blood Sucking Fiends – Christopher Moore
  • The Spellman Files – Lisa Lutz
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are – John Kabat-Zinn
  • The Universe in a Single Atom – His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • Diet for a Dead Planet – Christopher D Cook
  • The Diet Myth – Paul Campos
  • The Courage to Start and No Need for Speed – John “The Penguin” Bingham

As some of you might know, though, I’ve had some troubles for the last 6 months (has it really been that long? :/ ), so my attention span is a fickle beast that I’m frequently frustrated with. Which basically boils down to my having trouble actually finishing books, or not being able to read them front to back in any reasonable time.

That’s not so much a problem with the non-fiction books, since I can usually go chapter to chapter with them, and bounce between a few.

But with fiction? I’ve read the beginning of Lies of Locke Lamora at least three times now, because I get into it, get excited, have to put the book down… have a few bad days, and just don’t pick it up again after.

I’ve always been a serious reader who didn’t shy away from tome-sized novels. But now I’m finding that it might be time to focus on short stories for awhile, and get back to the tomes later. (You’ll notice that both the other novels on that list are lighter and more humorous reading. That’s intentional as well.)

Either way though, I’m pretty excited about my current list of things to read. I’ll post updates if any of them become favorites, and hopefully in a month or so have another list of things that are on the bookshelf.

Until then, though, you might consider stock in bookmarks. I tend to use lots of them.