It isn’t just *books* I hoard… « Once & Future

Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

November 19, 2010

It isn’t just *books* I hoard…

Aren’t those adorable? They’re Book Darts from Lee Valley Tools. I’ve been feeling under the weather for the last week or so; nausea, mostly, which has been making novel-reading a bit of a challenge. But like so many I’m a compulsive reader anyway, and this week I’ve been reading all the silly Christmas catalogues that have been coming to the house.

My dad does all his shopping at Lee Valley so I have every reason to suspect there are Book Darts on my horizon, which would be amazing because I am an obsessive acquirer and user of book marks.  I always leave a bookmark in a book I’ve finished reading, as a means of marking it “read” – as well as a way of dating when I read it.  This creates a need for infinite “disposable” bookmarks in the house (most often our Bob Miller Book Room beauties).  Every time there’s a Small Press Book Fair or a Word on the Street I come away with a bag almost entirely filled with bookmarks.  And they get used.

This doesn’t stop me from also acquiring quite a lot of good, reusable bookmarks. One of my favourites is from the Osborne Collection, a reproduction of the beautiful gilt-on-blue spine of The Book of Romance (image somewhat shamefully stolen from elsewhere on the internet).  My boss once gifted me a bookmark featuring a monogrammed “C”, from Italy.  As silly as it sounds I replace these bookmarks with a disposable one once I’ve finished a book.  They also only get used for particular, appropriate books.  I should get a prize for attention to detail – or maybe I should be institutionalized; whichever.  My Italian “C” last saw use in the new translation of Orlando Furioso; the Book of Romance accompanied me through all three of Dumas’s Valois Romances.

For Canadian books I use promo book marks for… Canadian books.  I just used The Workhorsery‘s (lovely) promotional bookmark for Wilson’s Julian Comstock, and you know what?  Having Workhorsery’s mission statement staring at me during all my reading for a week and a half actually did the promotional trick.  I’m now so intrigued by them (and encouraged by their recent signing with LitDist for distribution) that I have every intention of buying both their books at the next Small Press Book Fair.  It’s at the top of my shopping list.

I once wanted to do a study of early bookmarks, a topic which falls under “ephemera” in book history.  It never came to be, which is unfortunate because I’d turned up some unusually marked-books in my rummagings.  There seems to be something more personal, sometimes, in how readers choose to mark, tag, annotate and adorn their books.  I’d love to hear your own bookmark habits!  Have a favourite? Avoid them entirely?  Any – dare I ask – dog-earers out there?

Happy friday!

2 thoughts on “It isn’t just *books* I hoard…”

  1. Wow, interesting to hear about your obsession – it actually sounds pretty cool to me!

    I have one nice bookmark, a leather one that my girlfriend’s brother brought me from a trip to Peru. I have never been one to keep special dedicated bookmarks, so I always end up using something fairly sturdy but convenient; for the past few years, I’ve actually been using the big stack of leftover business cards from my last job. They usually hold up for a book or two, and by then are either lost or tossed. I use the leather bookmark for my “main” book and usually the cards are stand-ins for the other book(s) I might be reading simultaneously, as well as whatever magazines I am working through at the time.

  2. Nathalie Foy says:

    I love, love, love my book darts. I was given a tin a few years ago, and they delight me.

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