X-Ray of a Reader
June 9, 2008 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Ever used a slice of bacon as a bookmark? How about a hundred dollar bill? For every reader who has grabbed something close at hand and slipped it into a book, it seems there's a patron of a used book store who has found it.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (38 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
If the purpose of a bookmark is to prevent book destruction via dogeared pages or bent-back spines (the only two methods I ever employ), it seems like bacon is a little counterproductive.
posted by DU at 8:31 AM on June 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Ever used a slice of bacon as a bookmark?

Sort of depends on the book doesn't it? In general, I will use anything as a bookmark that is not designed to be used as a bookmark.
posted by three blind mice at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2008

Been there done that. Things I have found as bookmarks while working in libraries:

1. $20 bill
2. Tampon
3. Condom
(both unused, in their wrappers)
4. This (maybe NSFW)
posted by marxchivist at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2008

Sweet Christ I'm glad I don't work in circulation.
posted by cog_nate at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2008

following a comment in marxchivist's link, here's a Flickr group: Things found in books.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:38 AM on June 9, 2008

I like keeping my ticket stubs (movies, opera, symphony, broadway, baseball, football, et. al.) and airline boarding pass stubs as bookmarks in whatever book I'm currently toting around at the moment. This means that often a book will have more than a couple of each stuffed into random pages. I use the extra ones to mark favorite passages that I come across.

I like to think that some day the sum total of my read books, with all their many stubs, might comprise some sort of interesting literary / cinematic / sports / life-travels historical overview of my life, should anybody ever be interested to peruse such a thing, beyond myself.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2008

Previously found.
posted by jamaro at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2008

I am currently using a strange sheet of stickers meant to be placed in my moleskine planner. Little rows of cake icons, first-aid symbols, and such. I find it utterly bizarre and wholly worthy of bookmarking.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2008

Bacon: Charlotte's Web
Tampon: Vagina Monologues
$20: Same as in Town

OK, ok, I made that last one up.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:46 AM on June 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

it seems like bacon is a little counterproductive

This is why true booklovers use only dry prosciutto.
posted by cortex at 8:49 AM on June 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I once found a fax used as a bookmark in a secondhand book. It was a work assignment, or maybe a test, from some New York college -- that's quite a long way from here . It was about ten years old, pretty faded. Someone in a company with TV in the name had faxed it. I meant to scan it and send it to Found magazine, don't remember if I ever did. I probably did, I guess they where underwhelmed

If anyone cares for a flamewar, the book sucked - I didn't even finish it
posted by ghost of a past number at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2008

allkindsoftime, when my grad-school advisor died, I was allowed to select a book from his library. I bypassed the fancy-bound volumes and old texts and went straight for his paperback copy of Tristram Shandy, which was filled with bookmarks, penciled-in notes, and about 100 paperclips. It's a fascinating artifact from a complex person, for sure.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2008

A friend of mine collected about a hundred of those escort service cards from the Vegas strip and uses them as bookmarks. I borrowed a book from him once, opened it, and out fell a picture of a young lady with stars covering her nipples. Classy.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:52 AM on June 9, 2008

It's a fascinating artifact from a complex person, for sure.
posted by MrMoonPie
That is a great story. I can think of a couple former professor's whose copies of The Scarlet Letter and A Farewell to Arms I'd like to have.

A copy of Tristram Shandy fresh off the printing press is a fascinating artifact!
posted by marxchivist at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2008

Been there done that. Things I have found as bookmarks while working in libraries:

A Viagra prescription slip. Not in the name of the coworker who checked out and returned the book, but in the name of the man he was secretly partnered with. Unfortunately I had started to laugh at his bookmarking with his own prescription slip and leaving it in there before I flipped it over and read the drug and the other name. It was an extremely slow day, so of course my initial laugh over at my boring task had already attracted the attention of my supervisors who demanded to see what was funny. More so when they saw my face change and try to hide the thing. Apparently they already strongly suspected who he was dating-- it was a secret a lot of people who knew them had long guessed. I still feel like I betrayed him though.
posted by Tehanu at 9:00 AM on June 9, 2008

If anyone cares for a flamewar, the book sucked - I didn't even finish it

No way, man! That was the best book evar-it like, totally changed my life!
posted by TedW at 9:04 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

If anyone cares for a flamewar, USENET is thataway.

Our own Miko has a nice (if these days pretty neglected) blog of things-found-in-books, called Enclosures.
posted by cortex at 9:04 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

My favorite find was a letter from David Griffiths to Ed Purcell, nestled within the pages of Griffith's Introduction to Electromagnetism, offering the Noble-winner the book and requesting aid solving some hairy e&m problem.
posted by noble_rot at 9:09 AM on June 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

In the pocket of a 1901 day planner:
-Pin, bent.
-Swatch of doily
-Swatch of undergarment
-One cent postage stamp
-Short newspaper clipping about a couple who had eloped.
posted by The White Hat at 9:15 AM on June 9, 2008

yes, we did this just a year ago. but here's my newest find, in a copy of The Manitous, by Basil Johnston (folded tightly and typewritten on an old typewriter that fills in all the o's):


Hi Thomas
How are you ? I am fine so far sorry it been 2-yrs since I last talk to you there is no excuse for me not writeing to you sooner I just been lazy Life has been good so far I been trying to make a liveing doing siding so far I have not been very scsexfuld at it sorry about my writeing when I Left Duluth it was a very long and hard trip a lot of walking sometimes I Thougth I would never get a ride from anybody going by!
Been trying to make enougth money to get to Alaska!
But so far had not been able to make enougth money to go!
just enougth money to live on so far
But still I Like to still Go
Well I Am plaining to go trapping here in montana mybe I wiill make enougth Money to go to Alaska
Well please write ok

your old frend Edward D Leppala
XXXX S. XXXXX lot-15
Butte Montana 59701

i really hope Edward made it to Alaska. but somehow, this letter has more tragedy in it than hope.
posted by RedEmma at 9:23 AM on June 9, 2008

I have a copy of a book on stellar pulsations that was apparently owned by the author, who was a major name in the field. It has a few copies of the reviews of his book stashed inside the back cover. No letters to anyone, though.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:27 AM on June 9, 2008

The bacon thing has been a family joke for years. It never occurred to me that it might actually have happened. Not so sure that I feel better for knowing it has.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:30 AM on June 9, 2008

Variation on the MrMoonPie story: I bought a copy of Sir Charles Grandison at a used book store. On the inside cover was inscribed the name of the current chair of my university's English department. The book was filled with his marginal notes. After about 1,300 pages (SCG is 1,600 pages of Samuel Richardson mediocrity), the notes abruptly stopped. It was a good feeling to know I finished a book that a man who reads books as a tenured profession couldn't finish.

Wait, wait, on top of this: wedged in the back was a Christmas card/letter from 1991 and clipped-out, unsolved puzzles from old copies of The Plain Dealer. It's an unfascinating artifact from a simple person, for sure.
posted by spamguy at 9:33 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some time back I bought a book second-hand, and when I looked inside there was a leaflet used as a bookmark. It looked like it was from some local church. But that wasn't the reason it was interesting. The reason was that it was decorated with a child's crayon drawings, and marked with words like "I love you grandma."

Thinking about that, and the circumstances that possibly led to that bookmark being in my hands, makes me inexpressibly sad, to this day. I've still got it around here somewhere.
posted by JHarris at 9:44 AM on June 9, 2008

The cleverest thing I've ever seen used as a bookmark was by Halfbaker zen_tom - who used a length of cotton, just slightly longer than the book.
posted by Dub at 9:49 AM on June 9, 2008

The previous thread is responsible for one of my favorite comments in metafilter history:

Once, I found a rose pressed between the pages of "Peter Pan" in a 1923 edition of Three Plays by J. M. Barrie. There was a book plate in the front that read "Ex Libris Jane Peterman".

Ms. Peterman, if you're out there, I have your book and your flower. I hope you never grew up, so I can return them to you.

posted by Pastabagel
posted by slimepuppy at 9:55 AM on June 9, 2008

In the 1990s, the late historian J. P. Kenyon sold his academic library to O'Gara and Wilson. I snagged one of the volumes, but I didn't have the luck of one U of C professor: he found an enraged letter to Kenyon from another prominent early modernist (who shall remain anonymous). Apparently, the opening sentences, in which said prominent early modernist called Kenyon names, were the most polite part of the letter...
posted by thomas j wise at 9:57 AM on June 9, 2008

tj wise, I bet I can guess who penned the letter...
posted by Hildegarde at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2008

“Inside an old children's book, I found a green card; on one side was written in a child's print: “I love you, do you love me?” The answer was written on the reverse: “ I hate you and nobody loves me.” There were several additional cards saying "Nobody loves me."
Sandra from Nan’s Book Shop in Illinois

posted by smackwich at 10:37 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is the librarything link going to the Swedish version of the site for some subtle, librarian reason?
posted by sidereal at 10:52 AM on June 9, 2008

Boarding-pass stubs (if you can still find the stiff cardboard ones) make excellent bookmarks.
posted by recoveringsophist at 10:59 AM on June 9, 2008

My favorite bookmark ever was a semi-transparent green plastic one, made by my university's print services department to show off their capabilities. I used it for years. Finally lost it, I believe it fell out of the book I was reading on the plane while on my way back from a vacation in Jamaica. I still miss that bookmark.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:32 PM on June 9, 2008

If I ride the bus while reading a book, I like to use the transfer slips as bookmarks, tying the reading to a certain date. As far as finding other people's stuff, the best I've done was finding a credit card statement in a library book.
posted by drezdn at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2008

The used bookstore where I work is decorated completely with things that fall out of books folks bring in. Except for the naked pics, of course. We discretely dispose of those after we've all had a look.

My fave are the old letters - especially one sent home from a soldier stationed on a Pacific island during WWII, filled with great detail about army life, and another from an excited white Southern woman writing to her daughter in the early 60s about the very dark-skinned BLACK MAN someone brought to church last week. I love that shit.

Leave an old letter in a random book today. Someone will appreciate it later.

Oh, and q-tips make terrible bookmarks. Stop it.
posted by mediareport at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have some of my grandpa's books, and some of his bookmarks have included collector coins, an article cut out of the Winnipeg Free Press detailing how Germany has Attacked Poland, and some Nazi banknotes. I suspect he got the Nazi banknotes when he had to deal with the second item a little while later.
posted by Deep Dish at 5:05 PM on June 9, 2008

Used condoms make horrible bookmarks.
posted by dasheekeejones at 5:20 PM on June 9, 2008

i only just met my father a few years ago. in the process of getting to know each other, i helped him catalog his ginormous collection of photographs. nearly 1/3 of the photos were of people/places/etc he no longer remembered. i stashed those in a separate pile.

with his permission, i claimed those unwanted photos. ever since, i've carried 10 or so around with me at a time, randomly stashing them in things. i've stashed quite a few in library books, but i've also done things like leave them in the comment box at a restaurant, stuck in a new magazine like a subscription card, and randomly dropping them in stores.

it's been kinda fun.
posted by CitizenD at 5:35 PM on June 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

I once checked out a book from the library and found a post card inside. It was addressed to a very good friend of mine and it was from her mother who had been dead for many years. When I gave it back to her she cried.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

« Older Sucking CO2   |   100 Movies/100 Days Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments