A member of the ABC Book Club on Facebook recently asked, What do you use for bookmarks? I rifled through the bookshelf and posted a photo of my motley collection: tickets, postcards, photographs, ribbons, receipts, newspaper clippings, notes, a letter, a leaf, and an assortment of proper bookmarks.
Browsing the ephemera of my bookmarks rekindled fond memories of past travel and adventures. From my backpacking days, there were boarding passes, train tickets, and a bus ticket to Glastonbury. Anne Frank’s Diary contained a fold-out guide to Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. And in a travel guide, a receipt for tent pegs from a camping shop in Bulawayo.
Back home, my Australian bookmarks included a receipt for the Kakadu Yellow Water boat cruise. There was a business card from Lady Elliot Island resort, a lift pass from Mount Selwyn snowfields, and a ticket for Australia versus West Indies at the SCG from 1996. And tickets to the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Paralympics.
Newspaper Clippings and Personal Memories
Among the bookmarks were also newspaper clippings. Inside Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, was an obituary for Allen Ginsburg. Remembering Babylon had a piece on David Malouf winning the then-largest literary prize in the world, the International Dublin Literary Award. And Cloudstreet had an article from May 1992 on Tim Winton and his second Miles Franklin Award.
There were more personal memories, too, like birthday cards and envelopes, notes to and from my son (“Stop chewing your pens!” and “Sorry for losing my temper, Dad.”). And a letter from my Nan. I posted in Alice Nannup and my Nan (July 2020) how my Nan wrote to me in England in 1992, responding to questions I’d asked her about details from Alice Nannup’s memoir. It was wonderful to unearth my Nan’s old letter and to read her beautiful handwriting again.
I did find proper bookmarks, many of which are also associated with fond memories. One is from the American Book Centre in Holland. A friend worked in one of their bookstores, and I used to visit him regularly when I lived just across the North Sea in England. Another bookmark features Indigenous art from the 2017 Songlines exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. It’s a reminder of what is likely to be the last sightseeing trip to Canberra with my now adult son. And then there are the art-and-craft bookmarks my son made when he was a young boy.
Oh, and have I mentioned the gum leaf? Goodness knows where I found it, but well dried out, it’s the perfect bookmark for a nature book!
Do I have a favourite bookmark? No, not really. But I am fond of my “motley collection” and the memories they trigger, especially of times with my son. And I keep them all in a safe and fitting place, in books.
Which reminds me of another question posed in the ABC Book Club on Facebook, What kind of bookmarker are you? I was pleased to note I fell into the “good” category of reader, with my use of ephemera and proper bookmarks.
As for the “evil” bookmarkers, readers who dog-ear books, I’ll leave that for someone else to blog about!
© 2020 Robert Fairhead
N.B. This post is also published on Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. You might also like to read another blog post I wrote about Tim Winton and Cloudstreet where I quote the newspaper clipping from 1992, Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?.
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Among other things, Robert is an editor and writer at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. In 2020, he published his first collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (available from Amazon).