As we read a book and turn the pages we eventually get tired, or distracted, and we are ready to close the book. We do not want to leave our characters behind. It’s difficult to exit the world we have entered so wholly. However hard it might be to put the book down, our real lives are beckoning us on. The children are calling, the pillow is calling or work is calling. If we simply close the book, how will we ever find our way back to the place where we ended.
For some readers the very thought of turning the corner of the book down to mark the page is scandalous. Injuring the page that has brought you so much joy is considered a sin. I like turning down the page to mark my place. I enjoy reading a book from the library and seeing the mark of a previous reader. Wondering how that reader interpreted the actions or words of the protagonist. These little marks on the page add to the character of the physical book itself. Well, that’s my opinion at least.
My mother did not share this opinion. When she came to the end of a passage and was ready to put the book down...she used a bookmark. I remember as a young child what easier gift was there to give my mom then a bookmark. Not as expensive as a hard cover book...but just as useful. One of the earliest bookmarks I can recall had the cartoon sketch of a bow tie wearing penguin with the words “The Butler Did It”. Or there was the classic cartoon sketch of a cracked egg, bright eyes peaking out, and the caption “Be A Lert, the world needs all the lerts it can get.” To a child this was a little confusing...eventually I figured it out.
Going through my mom’s bookcases I managed to gather up a pile of 78 bookmarks...78! Bookmarks were my mom’s postcards. When she travelled she didn’t stop at the racks of tacky picture postcards, instead she picked up bookmarks from the local library, bookstore or artisan. They mark locations in South Africa, Cuba, England, Wales, and across Canada. Of course, my mother’s friends also saw the value of bringing home bookmarks from their travels for my mother. So her collection also included souvenirs from places she had never visited herself, but had wished to go. These include Ireland, Australia, etc. Recently, I received in the mail a bookmark from one of my mom’s dearest friends. She had been traveling abroad and saw a bookmark that she knew my mom would have enjoyed. This friend picked up the bookmark and sent it to me...in hopes that I would put the platypus bookmark to good use...I am.
The other day I was standing in a bookstore and a man asked the sales clerk if they had any free bookmarks. When the clerk said that they didn’t, the man set his sights on the super cutsie collection of bookmarks they had for sale. The bookmarks were clearly aimed at young teens and children...filled with vampires, cats and cars. I looked over at him and suggested he head over to the library, next door, where you can find a variety of free and interesting bookmarks. He smiled, thanked me and said he would probably just use the receipt from his book as the bookmark. Another viable option I said.
The next time you come to the end of your reading for the day, think about how you mark your place. Do you turn down the corner of the page, have comical bookmarks, use a homemade bookmark or one from your travels around the world? What is your bookmark?