This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Bookmarks of My Life

            This past weekend I read a mystery novel, as usual, but it was a Kindle book on my iPad so I didn’t need a bookmark. If I had been reading a book of the dead-tree variety, however, it’s good to know that I would have had a wide range of bookmarks to choose from. Boy, would it have been a wide range.
            A lot of readers, I know, don’t bother with formal bookmarks. They use grocery receipts, business cards, dollar bills — whatever is at hand. I’ve heard stories of people buying a book at a secondhand bookstore and finding, when they opened it, a large bill inside that had been used as a bookmark. You don’t get that on Kindle.
            I, on the other hand, belong to the group of people who collect bookmarks and who look at them as part and parcel of their reading history. Toward that end, I recently took an inventory of my bookmark collection.

Memories of Bookstores Past

            The great majority of my bookmarks come from bookstores that give them away as advertising when a customer buys a book. As might be expected, I have a ton of bookmarks from the local bookstores where I regularly shop. That includes Bookshop Santa Cruz, the recently closed Crossroads Books in Watsonville, and River House Books in Carmel.
            A few of my bookmarks aren’t from bookstores at all. I have one my sister sent me for a literary magazine that published one of her poems and another from some sort of online organization that claims to connect writers and independent bookstores. And I have a bookmark from Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, where I have never bought or read a book, but have purchased far more breakfast treats than are probably good for me.
            And I have a few bookmarks from stores I’ve visited in the past that no longer exist. There’s one from The Book Keeper in West Yellowstone MT (which I last visited in 1989) Toyon Books in Healdsburg CA, Phileas Fogg’s Travel Books in Palo Alto, and Borders, which failed to outlast the local bookstores that were so terrified of it.

Ah, The Places I’ve Been!

            I even have a couple of bookmarks from stores I’ve never been to, including City Lights in San Francisco and Stinson Beach Books, just north of the City. Those turned up in secondhand books I bought elsewhere. Not as good a find as a $20 bill, but a find nevertheless.
            Of the bookmarks that reflect my travels (and purchases), I come across the following: Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle, Bart’s Books in Ojai CA, Point Reyes Books, The Book Den in Santa Barbara, Gallery Books in Mendocino Twice Told Books in Guerneville CA, and Upper Case Books in Snohomish WA.
            And I’m sure if I did a thorough search of the house, I could come up with a dozen more.
            Finally, there’s a special class of bookmarks: the two I paid for. One was purchased at the Oxford University bookstore in 1990 and shows an image of the college, with no additional information. The other was bought at a stationery store in Venice in 2009. Not bad souvenirs, when you come to think of it. They cost almost nothing and last a really long time if only you can manage to avoid losing them.