Forgotten Bookmarks
July 25, 2009 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Forgotten Bookmarks. "I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people every day. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books. "
posted by milquetoast (46 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
Extremely awesome, thanks for posting.
posted by XMLicious at 9:43 PM on July 25, 2009

This is great. I grew up on used books, and finding odd things in them was always one of my favorite discoveries.

I once found an eastern airlines ticket to london, years after eastern had gone out of business, that had never been used. I always wondered about that.
posted by strixus at 9:45 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is great, and actually not what I expected (even given the straightforward concept.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:46 PM on July 25, 2009

Looks like the site might be down? Or is that just something on my end?
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:57 PM on July 25, 2009

How eloquent is that note from Julia to David!

Man, would I have loved to get dumped like that - so much better than the "It's not me, it's you" I typically used to get.
posted by bitteroldman at 10:01 PM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

... although she is pretty much saying the same thing.
but it sounds so much nicer her way!
posted by bitteroldman at 10:03 PM on July 25, 2009

I once found what was clearly a bookmark that a child had made, carefully laminated and addressed "to Grampy" in a used book.

Poor Grampy. I hope he got lots of bookmarks to make up for the one he left in Erotic Stories.
posted by corey flood at 10:15 PM on July 25, 2009 [24 favorites]

posted by delmoi at 10:22 PM on July 25, 2009

Terrific, thanks.
posted by faineant at 10:54 PM on July 25, 2009

I like to use movie stubs for books. The same stub for a string of books I'm reading because of the same interest or a person's recommendation. Sometimes I use receipts or little stickers my nephews might have given me. But then, I'm always sticking things into books when I'm out somewhere, because I know they won't get bent while I'm traveling.

I once kept about $65 in a box set, because it was birthday money I was keeping hidden from my brother who liked to "borrow" a few dollars now and then. I found the money about two years later, because I wanted to re-read the series.

Maybe it's time for me to check my books for stowaways.
posted by Kimothy at 11:17 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is very cool.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:46 PM on July 25, 2009

I once found a flash-illuminated snapshot of a blowjob used as a bookmark. I must say I recall the photo more clearly than the book.
posted by mwhybark at 11:50 PM on July 25, 2009

[This is good.]
posted by !Jim at 11:55 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

This 1955 leaflet about using your car to survive a nuclear attack is pretty interesting.
posted by memebake at 11:58 PM on July 25, 2009

Makes me wish I could find the photo I found in a used book once of a man sitting at the wheel of a pickup truck, sporting an Iron Maiden T-shirt, a cheeky grin, an excellent mustache and a glorious blonde mullet.

I used to tell people he was my boyfriend.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:19 AM on July 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

The day the US invaded Iraq, I collected a second hand book I had just bought at an online auction. Took it home, turned on the TV to watch the news, and opened the book. Out fluttered a 500 dinar note with Saddam Hussein on it. Spookiest damn coincidence in my life.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:22 AM on July 26, 2009 [8 favorites]

I found the money about two years later, because I wanted to re-read the series.

Heh. Kimothy, I used to hide $20 bills in books all the time. I was very poor and wanted to put some emergency money in hiding places around the house.

Once I lent a PG Wodehouse book to one of my friends. He called me a few days later to say, "My car broke down. I didn't have enough money for a tow, and couldn't think of anything to do, so I decided I might as well read a book. I opened up one you gave me, and a twenty fell out. I've read maybe two pages, but this might be the best book ever."
posted by louche mustachio at 12:33 AM on July 26, 2009 [19 favorites]

Brings to mind madamjujujive's great post: Things found in books.
posted by peacay at 12:38 AM on July 26, 2009

Before I sell books, I flip through the pages to remove my old bookmarks or anything weird or compromising. The weirdest thing that ever flopped out was this photograph, which took me quite some time to identify as a gal sitting in Timothy Leary's motorized wheelchair.
posted by Tube at 12:41 AM on July 26, 2009

Great site...bookmarked it!!!
posted by GavinR at 4:00 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Excellent. Thank you!
posted by chihiro at 4:38 AM on July 26, 2009

Great post. I love finding ephemera in my used books and almost always leave them in place. I've found old photographs, newspaper clippings (recipes, racist jokes, "Lawrence Durrell Reflects on His Literary Career"), train tickets, religious pamphlets, a hand-written poem entitled "On Hold With a Possible Lover," and two paper moon photos similar to these. My favorite find of all was a beautiful advertisement for the Aeolian Company's player piano, which I now have framed:

"The PIANOLA stands in your home as a perpetual invitation to enter the charmed inner circle of musicians. When you play the PIANOLA with taste and expression, and an intelligent understanding of what you play, you are just as much entitled to be considered a musician as the person who has spent long years in training refractory fingers to accomplish miracles on the key-board."

And it's illustrated with valkyries. What's not to love?
posted by timeo danaos at 5:29 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic.
posted by Shohn at 5:35 AM on July 26, 2009

I really liked this too. I love used books in general, but finding things in them is like an ephemeral connection to that other person who used to own the book, which makes them more real somehow.
posted by gemmy at 6:27 AM on July 26, 2009

I, too, work at a used and rare bookstore, at the buying desk, and me and my calleagues find all kinds of stuff, from cash to obscene notes*, inside books.

Along with dealing with sellers coming in off the street, we have a team of guys in a van who pick up larger loads from estates and the like that we go through in our slower periods. We've found some strange stuff. Old WWII propoganda pamphlets, naked photos, the occasional crack pipe (no crack, sadly), a pair of ceramic elephants intertwining trunks with 'Las Vegas,' inscribed on the base,a jet ski handbook put out by Johnnie Walker distillery and loads of other goodies.

Just last week I unloaded boxes that had a huge number of books (and I mean insider books like manuals and propoganda) on Scientology, the Nation Of Islam and Mark Kay. We also found a set of dental tools. I don't know either.

*One cookbook was inscribed (I am not making this up), "Grow warts on your cock, it will feel great when you fuck my cunt." Then we got a copy of an Edwidge Danticat paperback. On the cover was scrawled ""CAITLIN O'MALLEY IS A DIRTY BOOK STEALING WHORE!!" Underneath, pencilled in a femine hand, was "THIS IS MY BOOK, YOU STUPIDFACE BUBBLEMAN!!"

Strange world.

posted by jonmc at 6:50 AM on July 26, 2009 [5 favorites]

This is great. I'm fascinated by found ephemera, and this is even cooler than I expected.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:16 AM on July 26, 2009

Wonder if Julia or David might someday stumble upon this site and reread that note...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2009

used to work in a bookstore, so i have a collection of these things too. my current favorite is an imposibly blurry black and white photo i call "Oscar Wilde dancing with a Mannequin".
posted by RedEmma at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2009

posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:38 AM on July 26, 2009

Wonderful, thanks for the post!

> I used to hide $20 bills in books all the time. I was very poor and wanted to put some emergency money in hiding places around the house.

I did this too; somewhere I've still got a book with a $2 bill in it—every few years I run across it, smile, and put it back on the shelf. (I forget which book it was every time.)
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on July 26, 2009

We've been noticed! Today, she starts off with "First of all, hello all you Redditors and Metafilterites. The blog has been making the rounds this weekend, I hope all the new visitors take a nice look around."
posted by dilettante at 9:25 AM on July 26, 2009

You try and do that with a Kindle now
posted by matteo at 9:46 AM on July 26, 2009 [9 favorites]

My grandmother used to store clippings in books and dictionaries. A clipping about E.F. Benson would go in a Lucia book. A list of flowers and their meanings would go in the big American Heritage dictionary under "flowers." Her dictionary bulged with extraneous paper.
posted by bentley at 10:01 AM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

I work at a new bookstore and still find weird stuff in the pages sometimes. We get a lot of "spammers" putting their therapist business cards in self-help books, but also some weirder items. I'll never forget the look on the strait-laced new kid when she pulled a Clancy off the shelf and two Trojans fell out.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:10 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

In my college's copy of Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem I once found a faded 3 by 5 note card with the following written in cursive script:

can't go home right now because
a) too tingled by the recent memory of good kissing
b) not ready for my sleeping bed to smell like him again
c) what have we done exactly?
posted by Rinku at 11:11 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I once found a greeting card in a library book that had a note from an adulterer to his lover. Not hot, but rather pathetic and ordinary. Living in the Bible Belt, I often find Jesus stuff-- poems, pictures, prayers. Sometimes they are meant to be found, cards that say something like, "Lord, open the heart of the person who found this card so that they can claim their place in Heaven." Does that ever work, I wonder?

My husband and I buy postcards from art museum shops of art that has made a big impact-- they are wonderful bookmarks and you can remember the visit and admire the art every time you open your book.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:33 PM on July 26, 2009

I used to actively collect old children's books, specifically those published by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin. One of my favorite finds was a diary in a hidden compartment carved in the center of the book. The diary was written by a young teenage boy back in the Sixties. He wrote about school, summer camp, and a girl he had a crush on. The title of the book, The Restless Gun, was also sort of appropriate for the diary.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:41 PM on July 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Cool site.

I wonder if it worked out with the guy Julia was cheating on David with?

posted by drjimmy11 at 4:16 PM on July 26, 2009

A used book I once bought from a library that was selling excess donations had a church program inside it illustrated with a nice kid's crayon drawing, and a "grandma" recipient. I've still got it somewhere. Since finding it, I've found myself occasionally worrying about a possible reason that book had been donated....
posted by JHarris at 5:01 PM on July 26, 2009

The Legend of the Bacon Bookmark.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:19 PM on July 26, 2009

Heh, I just remembered pulling a book of Robert Browning poems off the bookshelf at home when I was younger- I was looking for a poem for English class. I opened it and a perfectly preserved pot leaf fell out. I think my mom mumbled something about maybe not having opened that book since college.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:08 AM on July 27, 2009

On a similar note, I used to spend a lot of time in Junkyards, being an automotive hobbyist, and have found some pretty good pictures in discarded cars. One I liked so much I kept it on the refrigerator for a few years. It was of a somewhat rotund black man with a woman that was obviously his date. It looked to be a first date perhaps, or close to it. She was fairly scantily clad. The look in his eyes was one of pride and exuberant expectation, hers was one of resignation and very mild curiosity. I still wonder what happened on that date. Not sure if I even have that picture anymore, I've since moved and don't know where I put it.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:34 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

That Dearest David letter found in The Remains of the Day has a bittersweet irony to it.
The book is about unrequited love.
The letter basically says if you attempt to reach out with that love you could get burned.
posted by Rashomon at 2:17 PM on July 27, 2009

I usually keep a book in my car to read in restaurants when I'm eating alone. My bookmark is usually the receipt from the restaurant where I started reading the book. Not that interesting if I leave it in and someone else finds it after I loan/sell/give away the book, but the book is always linked to that first restaurant for me.

How eloquent is that note from Julia to David!

I felt that way until I got to the part about his "unique David-ness." Ugh.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:41 AM on July 28, 2009

I was struck by the cow and magician photos. It didn't hurt much, as they were only photographs, but they seem to have become lodged in my brain. If they payed their rent, and didn't keep bringing attention to themselves, they would be fine lodgers.

Also, I agree with the Advocate about 'david-ness'? Yeesh.
posted by LD Feral at 8:36 AM on July 30, 2009

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