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A Short Thought On My Not Using Bookmarks

A photograph of three books, complete with bookmarks

I’ve always had a thing for bookmarks but when it comes to using them my small collection gets forgotten. I’m not sure there’s an exact reason but I can think up theories.

I don’t like the way they make progress so obvious – which when you’re a slow reader is a problem. I know you can always see your progress in how many pages is held in the left compared to the right hand (or the balance on the table), and I’m not sure why that doesn’t make an impact.

I’m always aware of the thickness of a bookmark. This is more the case with older designs, the sorts you find in museum souvenir shops, the leather/faux leather traditional look, but I know I consider too much the effect adding a bookmark would have on the physical structure of the book itself. I got in the habit of re-shelving current reads, knowing I’d not forget them because of the bookmarks, and bookmarks can make an already crammed shelf more so.

Lastly I just forget to use them and I place too much emphasis on my constantly-proved-wrong theory that I’ll remember which page I’m on. This theory has resulted in me taking a while longer to get back into a book simply because it’s no fun trying to remember if I’d read certain chapters or not.

I need to get back into using bookmarks. I haven’t a clue where I left off the classics I’ve carried over from last year and although I know bookmarks can’t summarise what I’ve already read, they do make whether you go back and reread a choice rather than a mishap.

And it’s occurred to me I’ve lost my fancy Henry VIII bookmark and the stack of Persephones I’d kept.

Do you use bookmarks? And are souvenir leather bookmarks a thing in places other than the UK?


Belle Wong

February 11, 2015, 5:25 am

I’m one of those who merrily dog ear pages, so I don’t have any bookmark dilemmas! I do like the look of bookmarks, but I know myself well enough to know I’d never have one around when I needed it – even if I had a 1000 in my collection.

Margaret @ BooksPlease

February 11, 2015, 9:53 am

I have quite a few bookmarks – sometimes I use them, sometimes I can’t find one and try to remember the page, other times I’ll use what comes to hand – a receipt, or a voucher, or just a scrap of paper.

I also have book darts which I use to mark passages I want to remember. They’re very good, very slim, don’t fall out of the book and don’t mark the page at all. But now I realise that I don’t actually use one as a bookmark – I should!

Alex (Sleepless Reader)

February 11, 2015, 11:02 am

Also have a large collection of bookmarks (always a safe choice when people don’t know what souvenir to bring me from their travels), but end up almost not using most of them. I either grab the closest thing (business card, post-it, shop receipt) or the usual bookdepository ones that are all over my apartment.


February 11, 2015, 12:55 pm

I have tonnes of bookmarks but I always seem to use receipts or little slips of paper instead… So, most of my bookmarks sit in a box and have never been used!

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

February 11, 2015, 1:49 pm

I’m exactly the same as Kailana! No idea why I insist on using little scraps of paper when I have a load of bookmarks unused!


February 11, 2015, 2:16 pm

Nice post, Charlie. I have a good collection of bookmarks – I love the way there are different types of bookmarks which are artistically created. But I don’t use them. I always remember the page where I left off. I haven’t had a problem with that yet. But as I grow older, remembering that might be hard, especially if I leave a book for a while and then try to get back to it. My mom used to dogear pages, and I tried getting her into bookmarks but it never worked. Have you read Anne Fadiman’s essay ‘Never Do that to a Book’? (It is in her collection ‘Ex Libris’). It is about using bookmarks vs dogearing pages vs keeping the book open and other things that readers do to books.


February 11, 2015, 2:28 pm

I use bookmarks. They vary from the receipt if I purchased the book – which is great because it never leaves the book even years later when I finally get around to reading it! or my stash of bookmarks – I have a readily accessible box of such or whatever I can find at the time I need. I have to have one and they do usually need to be thin.

Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

February 11, 2015, 2:40 pm

I love using bookmarks, but I have a bad habit of not having them where I need them. I have a pile on the bookshelf in the living room, but really they need to be moved to some of the other places I read as well, particularly next to the bed. I hate losing my place or forgetting my page simply because a bookmark wasn’t readily at hand. Though I have been known to use the oddest things as bookmarks in a pinch!


February 11, 2015, 5:13 pm

I always use a bookmark. I have such an extensive collection of them though it really isn’t possible for me to use them all!


February 11, 2015, 8:43 pm

I have lots of bookmarks, but the only ones I use are the magnetic ones. They never fall out of my book, which is important since whatever book I’m reading goes everywhere with me. Once I left my very favorite bookmark in a book that I donated to a local charity, so now I’m always careful to remove them when I’m done reading.


February 12, 2015, 5:16 am

I own a number of very pretty bookmarks (including one made of wood!) but rarely use them. Most often, if I need to mark a page, I use a receipt.


February 15, 2015, 8:22 pm

I love a bookmark, I still have ones I’ve had since I was a teenager. I get irrationally upset when I start a new book and I don’t have one.

I do agree that some of them are less practical, like the leather ones. When they’re too thick they disrupt the book.

Literary Feline

February 18, 2015, 5:53 pm

I have a nice collection of bookmarks . . . that sit at the bottom of my drawer unused most of the time.

More often than not, I use a slip of paper, a post it or a receipt–whatever is handy when I first start reading the books.

Although, I have to say I rarely need any of those things most of the time. I read e-books more than I do print books these days. No bookmark or place holder necessary.

I haven’t really tried using a leather bookmark, and so can’t speak on that. I think the paperclip ones are awfully cute, but they do leave marks on pages. I have a few beaded string bookmarks that are so pretty–but my cats love them too. Of course, they like the tassels on the regular bookmarks as well. I haven’t really tried the magnet bookmarks, although I did get some as a Valentine’s Day present this year. I’ll have to try them out and see what I think. They are kind of small, so I worry about losing them easily.

Jenny @ Reading the End

February 25, 2015, 12:45 pm

I know that I did not until fairly recently use bookmarks, but these days I cannot imagine how I ever did without them. I’ve solved the problem of their never being around when I need them by acquiring just tons of them, and placing caches of them around the house in strategic locations (one upstairs, two downstairs) so that I’ll always know where to find one. It’s especially good for my nonfiction reading, which I tend to do one chapter per night (or half a chapter if the chapters are quite long and dense), so it’d be easy to forget where I left off.


March 3, 2015, 12:40 pm

Belle: Yes to number not equalling use.

Margaret: Ah, another option I hadn’t thought of – anything that’s to hand. That has me in mind of the post-it notes you use at school. Good idea.

Alex: I like that idea for a souvenir.

Kailana: I wonder if pieces of paper were made the default would we suddenly start using bookmarks!

Jackie: Yes to that, me too.

Vishy: I’m quite envious of your ability to remember the page you’re on ;) Yes, when you go back to a book after a while it’s incredibly difficult, especially if you’ve read other books in the meantime. I haven’t read the essay but love the concept; I’ll have a look for it.

Care: I’m feeling the need to celebrate using bookmarks, it seems so rare! Interesting you end up keeping the receipts – you must have a fair idea of changes in costs over the years.

Christine: Yes to that – if they aren’t in the place you’re reading, it’s easy to just forget about the idea. Reminds me a little of the concept of cats having beds but being quite happy with a box – we have bookmarks but really we’re fine with odd bits of paper.

Jessica: I think you get a cookie for that, always using one :D I love the idea of a big collection.

Julie: That sounds very useful. I used to use one with a tassel at the top so it was harder for it to slip out. Otherwise unless the book is thick, you’re not moving the book, or you push it right up to the spine, they do fall out easily. Sad to hear about your favourite, but it sounds like there was a silver lining to the event :)

Liviania: I suppose they do say ‘keep this receipt for your records’, after all!

Alice: Yes, the leather ones are gorgeous but leave an indent :/ I love that you still have ones from your teenage years. I’ll use a certain one for a while and then loose it for good.

Literary Feline: Same here, except on a shelf. It is useful to have ebook places saved, though I think that can make it easier to be complacent, so to speak, when it comes to physical books. You become used to ebooks holding your place. I had a papercvlip bookmark once and thought the same about the marks. Great idea in theory, just not so good when implemented. I suppose that shows how few times I’ve used them – cats have never gone for my bookmarks. (Walking between me and the book, though…) I haven’t heard of magnetic bookmarks, let me know :)

Jenny: That is a good place to be, not knowing how you did without them. I like that acquiring many has helped you; I wish I could do the same! (Number doesn’t equate to use here.) Non-fiction does seem a lot easier to forget, chapter-wise.



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