What a plastic lizard, receipts and fringed leather have in common

Book and bookmark

Image: Pixabay

I’m not a book purist in many ways.

I love a bit of genre  – fantasy, sci-fi, New Wave-existential-garbage-horror – I have time for them all.

I won’t turn my nose up at writers who are regularly slated on social media because their writing isn’t deemed to be of high enough quality to sell the numbers they do – J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown … even E.L James won’t find her ears burning when I’m around.

They’ve all sold millions more books than I have which means they have a gift for something – Dan Brown’s books are true page turners, J.K Rowling has a fantastic imagination and E.L James tapped into the e-mucky-book market like no one before or since. (Though e-mucky-books sounds like a Yorkshireman describing a novel after it’s been dropped in a puddle, which may well be a genre of its own one day.)

I’m not even against people writing on books – their own books, mind, not school’s, not those borrowed from the library or lent by a friend. The greatest minds in the arts and sciences annotated books (Sylvis Plath, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Jack Kerouac all scribblers) so I see nothing wrong with it. It shows the reader has engaged with the text, which is always what a writer hopes for.

This very comment will have my mother in law reaching for the smelling salts like a heroine in a melodramatic Gothic novel with an over-tightened corset. When I was studying for my degree, she discovered I annotated my texts books and her horrified face was something to behold – I actually think she gasped.

And inherited annotations can be fascinating. Seeing what a previous owner thought of a particular section, seeing the ideas expanded on or questioned by later minds is part of the joy of buying second hand. Even if it’s only to read

To Spencer, have a wonderful birthday, love Gramma Joan

still fills my heart with an extra chip of joy.

And yet to see a turned down page makes me twitch. I have to stop myself from slapping my son’s hand when he does it.

What’s the matter with finding a bookmark?

I want to cry.

A bookmark doesn’t have to be anything posh either. I’ve had cardboard, fringed leather (usually those National Trust ones with pictures of manor houses on), fabric, embroidered, brass and a few nice steel bookmarks – one blade-like my husband bought me, now sadly gone to wherever the good bookmarks go – with which I could act out vampire slayer fantasies when no one was looking. But when backed into a bookmarkless corner I’ve used


shopping lists

flyers for frozen food outlets 

playing cards

Post-it notes


and on one not so successful occasion, a plastic reptile of unspecified species with a very long spiky tail and a loud squeak in his belly.

How do you feel about annotation and turned down corners? Do you have a selection of lovely bookmarks to draw on  or will you use a slice of yesterday’s pizza if necessary?


23 thoughts on “What a plastic lizard, receipts and fringed leather have in common

  1. I hate turned down corners too! Once I even used a 5 pound note for weeks as a bookmark. My friends made fun of me for wasting money that way but I would rather do that than turn down the corners of a page! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Ilike the idea of using a fiver – at least that way you’ll always know you have some ready cash in the house 🙂 Better than a plastic lizard, any day of the week

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A bookmark of any kind is preferable, but I have been known to fold a page on occasion. I never write on my pages though. In fact, I usually try to get out of a book without anyone knowing I’ve been there — no cracks on the spine, no wear and tear, etc. I like them to look unread when I’m done with them. That said, over time, things happen. I recently had to replace a favorite paperback I’ve had and read over and over for decades — it finally fell apart — and I accidentally put down my brand new copy in such a way that the cover got caught under it and got creased. I wanted to scream.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean – there is a certain satisfaction in getting to the end of a book and its condition being as good as when you picked it from the shelves – though I also love worn and cracked spines too as they prove how much a book has been loved.
      Which book was it you loved so much you wore it out? Thay’s a mark of a well-loved book! Thanks Walt 🙂


      1. How sad you lost that copy after so long! I know it’s the words that count, but after having a well loved book for most of your life, you have such strong memories associated with it. Wonder if this copy will last for 30 years too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am guilty of serious abuse when it comes to books!

    I write on them, (in fact a book given as a gift without an inscription is simply WRONG, IMHO), highlight them, turn corners, fold pages in half, crack spines and leave coffee stains.

    You can read about my crimes here if you like, http://k1kat.com/2015/09/07/word-for-wednesday-w4w-31/.

    I am a crafter though and do make nice bookmarks as gifts… typically perverse of me right?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I remember this post. I can see both sides – I love to see a well-loved book. A cracked spine is the sign of hours spent in another world, which is magical. But there’s something a tiny bit gross about buying a second hand book and finding food marks staining the pages, as I’ve done before – especially when you can’t identify the stains and are just hoping it’s food … Like the sound of the bookmarks, though – a grand gift as far as I’m concerned 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Can’t be as bad as the ‘gift’ a fellow pupil from my school left in a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary – can’t describe it, it’s so horrible!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. All those vouchers you get at the check-out in Sainsbury’s, they make excellent bookmarks. I always bag one of the bookmarks you get at bookshops, too, but I always manage to lose them. So it’s any old bit of scrap paper (that’s not big enough to write on) for me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing wrong with that. Though I do recommend the metal ones with your initial on – you can buy them from Waterstones. They hook onto the page which makes them harder to lose than a more straight forward bookmark. Pretty too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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