Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'll Mark Your Place

Bookmark Collection 2We spend so much time thinking about our books, what books to buy, what to borrow, what to read next. But how much time do you spend thinking about book accessories? Accessories are not strictly necessary, but they do add to the reading experience. Consider, if you will, the bookmark.   Some readers may scoff and wonder what is so important about a bookmark, after all, anything can mark a page, even a--gasp!--folded corner. I admit this is true. I have bought books with the bookmarks of previous owners in them. An airplane boarding pass. A movie ticket. The original receipt for the book. One of those promotional markers bookstores give away. And if I am reading a library book, I have found the check-out receipt with the due date from several of the previous readers. These are all serviceable. In fact, I usually use my library receipt as a marker and leave it in the book for the next reader to find.   But just because a bookmarker is utilitarian doesn't mean it has to be a scrap of whatever is at hand. I believe the choice of marker is of some importance. Not only does it usually come with a tassel to amuse the cat, it can also provide a little extra enjoyment to my reading experience.   Bookmark Collection 1Those bejeweled metal bookmarks or the paperclip markers never make it close to my books. My markers must be flat and thin so as not to hurt binding or page. I have accumulated a nice little collection over the years. Some of my bookmarks are from when I was in elementary school and have (not so) glittery unicorns and fairies on them. Some are from vacations, others were gifts, and the rest I bought on a whim at one time or other. All of them are meant to be used.   The bookmark should compliment the book. For instance, my Virginia Woolf marker is always used when I am reading Woolf. I have a small laminated bookmark from a South Korean pen friend when I was 9 with a funky looking girl and Korean writing which I cannot read on it. That bookmarker is perfect for the James Joyce I am reading, reflecting my pre-reading feelings about Joyce, a little out of the ordinary and possibly like reading a foreign language. See how this works? I have picked out my bookmark for my Proust journey. An embroidered fabric one that looks a little like an oriental carpet or the edging of a tapestry, sort of exotic but reminds me of an elegant yet cozy room too. I can't say that a book has ever been ruined because the bookmark clashed, but then I haven't paid attention to negative impact before. I'll have to stay alert to see if it makes a difference. I do know, however, that the right bookmark with the right book is like icing on a cake.