Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller's Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages by Michael Popek Perigee Trade November 1, 2011; 192 Pages Review Date: September 26, 2012
Working at the library I meet a lot of different and interesting people. I have regulars who I see often and can easily recommend a book to, and occasional visitors whose interest are as varied as the choices of yarn available on line. The books that we choose to read are personal. And during the time that you posses a book from the library it becomes a part of you. For that reason, people have a tendency to use items that are closely related to whatever is going on in their life as bookmarks. Often, these items are forgotten and returned when the book is finished. That's why we have an special spot for "Things Left in Books" at our library!
You would think that folks would be more careful, but they're not! Most of the things that we come across are fairly mundane - a receipt from the grocery store, an appointment or business card and of course regular old book marks. But there are lots of pictures too. And birthday and anniversary cards. We've found bills for auto insurance and copies of pay stubs. But the most interesting are the letters. People don't write letters often anymore, but over time we've seen some surprising stuff! Recently I came across a letter dated 1982 from friends who hadn't seen each other in some time. There was the usual reminiscing, but the line that caught me off guard was this one, "Have you told your fiance that you are a witch yet?" Wow!
Anyone who deals with books, from librarians to used book sellers, is likely to come across some crazy things. That's what prompted Michael Popek to write Forgotten Bookmarks - A Bookseller's Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages. In this charming little book, Popek shares his favorites from 30 years in the book business. There are heartwarming love poems, recipes and advertisements (to name a few). Some are modern, most are antique and they're all fun to look at! My favorite? A handmade invitation to a sorority Halloween dance from 1910 where they invitees are warned to "be prepared to meet your doom!" They're required to dress precisely according to 7 points including "have your hair curled in 12 curls" and "wear your 'jeweled' dog collar"!! Also they must be prepared to sing "Oh Where Oh Where has my Little Dog Gone?" A final warning of "woe betide you if even one point is neglected!" and the skull and cross bones atop the page promise an evening of blood curdling terror!
Popek's book is a great peak inside the forgotten private lives of readers, and his blog offers a look at his latest discoveries. Perhaps because of my own experiences I find it more interesting than others might, but it's charming none the less. Click over for a look, and don't forget to check your books before you bring them back to the library!