Tools of the Trade: The Bookmark

Ah, the bookmark. This can be anything: a humble scrap of paper, bank notes (I once found a $20 bill in the Lord of the Rings), airplane ticket stubs, toilet paper (don’t lie, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably done that), or on rare occasions your iPad mini (oops). What makes the bookmark a tool of the trade? Well, obviously you can use it to mark your place in a book when you stop midway through. But on a deeper level it signifies a reading philosophy.

Some readers often have 5-6 books going at one time. Some readers will chip away at one book, chapter by chapter, a little before bed each night. I can’t do either of those things. My brain isn’t capable of switching between different storylines and plots (though I can occasionally handle a non-fiction and fiction book at the same time) and after seven years of marriage my husband just rolls his eyes when I say I’m going to read “for just a little bit” before bed, as this inevitably turns into me finishing the book at three in the morning – and I don’t even have to like it. I get sucked into the story and just can’t stop, unless the book is truly horrible, and even then I generally need to know how it ends.

I have always, always been a sit down and read a whole book kind of girl. Now that I have a young son, and my husband is working a more traditional schedule (i.e. he’s not gone for whole-book lengths of time after our baby goes to sleep), I just don’t have the time to do that anymore. It’s either read a little at a time, or not at all. So I’m trying to train myself to be a bookmark user. If I can’t make myself stop in the middle of a book, I’m either looking at very short nights or not reading. Neither of those options appeal to me. At all.

So today I’m raising up the bookmark as not only a tool of the trade, but as a representation of the brave new world of reading in small doses.

Do you use bookmarks? How many books are you generally reading at once? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?

6 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade: The Bookmark

  1. Beth Hennings says:

    I typically have my head in more than one book at a time, though generally not usually two novels. At the moment, I’m slowly working my way through a bio of George Mallory, daily reading a Lenten devotional, and am also pondering through a book by Ken Gire. I love bookmarks, and though I’ve been given many lovely “official” bookmarks through the years, I tend to prefer something quite ordinary and close at hand, like a 3×5 notecard (also great for scribbling down quotes), a ticket stub, an envelope, an old grocery list. I’ve used the paper packet of a Lipton tea bag more than once; does that count as strange?

  2. Cheri Nine says:

    I am absolutely a one book at a time and read it to the end kind of girl, though the need for sleep does occasionally intrude. If I find myself being unreasonably grumpy of a morning I can often trace it back to the fact that I have a third of a book waiting for me and I DON’T KNOW HOW IT ENDS YET!!! And if I can start another book before I’m done with the first one, that generally means the first one just wasn’t worth finishing.
    I’m pretty sure I can (almost) accurately say that the only thing I’ve never used as a bookmark is a bookmark. I-phones, toilet paper, and even other books are totally fair game.

    • lectorsbooks says:

      I know! It makes me grumpy too! Especially if I get interrupted by another person, even if it’s for a really reasonable request like, “Hey, we finished our 12 hour drive and you have to stop reading and get out of the car to say hello to our relatives.” I love your other books idea – how meta. I’m picturing an endlessly iterative book within a book within a book…

  3. Beth Hennings says:

    Thinking of other bookmarks I’ve used: travel brochures, railway timetables, recipes, postcards, photos, Amazon packing slips, pens, coasters, the jacket of a hard cover I simply can’t keep on the book itself…the list is practically endless.

    • lectorsbooks says:

      It’s true – and I hate dust jackets! I can never keep them on the book, and then I always lose them. I tried using a mostly full cup of tea once, but fortunately backed out once I realized there was no way I was ever going to not spill that.

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