Forgotten Bookmarks by Michael Popek

I do not scrapbook, neither do I like reading someone’s, but this book offered such an interesting excursus into the lives of people who read books that I could not resist the temptation and checked it out … and read it in one big sitting/lying down session.

Book readers know that we use nearly everything as a bookmark. I am currently using my accident report issued by Springdale police as an Infinite Jest bookmark. Luckily, this is my copy, and I have no intention donating it or reselling it, so I am relatively safe while I am alive:-) I am giving this as a example that readers do in fact use weird bookmarkalikes.

My personal digression apart, the book offered a delightful and occasionally melancholic excursion into the lives of people without their agreement. And this is where voyeurism becomes very noticeable:-) A variety of letters, poems, notes, recipes, cars, bills, hotel do-not-disturb signs, drawings, sketches, leaves, and even natural hair hairnets, all this and much more finds its way into library books, book bins, flea market, and antique stores.

These unique bookmarks are teasers of someone’s lives, full of happiness, haunted by poverty and privation, lovesickness, hopes, desperation, gourmet tastes, and simply a zeal to live. The author is quite non-intrusive and provides only necessary comments without interpreting or analyzing the bookmarks and the books they were found in. Sometimes it is not the bookmark, but the content of the book that make a specific bookmark hilarious. The one that made me laugh out loudly is the advert used as a bookmark about a local dancing club that also contains the rules of civility in this specific club, namely, ‘You are not allowed to touch the dancer’, and then ‘If you touch the dancer, you must leave the club’. All these relatively puritanical rules can be understood and accepted as the reflection of their epoch, but somehow this bookmark found its way into the book by Sigmund Freud Totem and Taboo. The bookmark is indeed about totems and taboos. A very Freudian bookmark, don’t you think?

I enjoyed the book more than I anticipated, and this is always a big plus for book readers.


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Filed under Book Review, nonfiction

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