Bookmarks. We've all got a system

What is your system for marking where you are in a book? The minimalist receipt that you received upon buying the book? A bookmark from the shop your purchased it from? Something you made? I find these little things very interesting and I’ve known a few people to have really quirky ways of wayfinding through their reading journeys. @Brendan I feel like I’ve seen you talk about this before on Twitter, maybe? What is your system like?

For me, I use Book Darts. They’re just really delightful, they can mark the exact line or thought you left off on (extremely helpful for poetry, non-fiction, things like that), or you can mark passages you want to keep coming back to. And best of all, they don’t damage the book! There is a little bit of nostalgia baked into these for me, as well. I have 5-6 tins from the bookstore I went to growing up in Peterborough, NH. When they run out I intend to get a personalized batch of tins made up to have for probably the rest of my life.

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I have this small notebook that slides right between some books on my shelf. The notebook itself is of terrible quality but it’s very good at storing bookmarks. When I need a new bookmark (all of them come from bookstores I’ve been to), I slide the notebook out a little, tilt it back, and pry a bookmark out. I never have to pull the notebook out completely. You can think of it as a tiny drawer.

I usually pair books and their bookmarks by size: a large sturdy bookmark for a large sturdy book, etc.

And I always stop reading at the beginning of the first paragraph on the lefthand page, so I don’t have to scan around trying to remember where I left off. It’s always the same spot!

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I am a dog-ear-er. Or, I use the flap of the bookjacket. Whatever’s at hand! I always lose bookmarks…when I first get the book I do usually use the receipt or bookmark that the book came with but inevitably they disappear once I’m partway through the book. I guess I need my bookmarking mechanisms to be physically attached to the book…

@brendan indeed has an extremely idiosyncratic system that I’ve witnessed first hand. It involves a timer and a set of custom letterpress placards. Can’t wait till he chimes in.

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I have a two-part answer to this question:

First off, I love getting bookmarks from every bookstore I visit. I typically use these to track my place in the (physical) books I’m reading — I keep a few at hand on my nightstand, kind of wedged under my lamp, and have a big pile on a shelf in my office. Fun way to remember stores I went to years ago, and other random bookmarks I’ve accumulated…would be fun to scan / make a collage or something one day.

Book darts look very cool; my first thought was ‘hmm I’d probably lose them!’ but I like that you can get them by the tin!

Related to the above: I sometimes use multiple bookmarks if I want to save the spot(s) of an interesting passage / quote to make note of later. Book darts look perfect for this use case.

Second, as @jinjin mentioned, my other (weirder) use of bookmarking involves one of these! —

Why yes, that is a bookmark-timer designed to ‘encourage kids to make reading a daily habit’. That’s pretty much what I use it for too :smiley:

I printed / cut out a bunch of little strips of paper to tape onto the long body part of this, each with a month’s worth of rows, and columns for day, time, and book. I don’t always use it literally as a bookmark but I’ll keep it on my nightstand and/or carry with me and use the timer to track my reading time, both for physical books and Kindle.

At this point it’s a habit and takes just a few seconds to record my reading time for each day, and like 30 seconds once a month to swap out the little piece of paper. And every few months I’ll go through and transfer to a spreadsheet. Later on I can refer to this to update my books read on Goodreads, and possibly other fun uses of reading data I haven’t spent much time on yet…

I think it’s helpful but I don’t have proof. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now and I do get a fair amount of reading done, aiming for at least 15-30 minutes most days, some months averaging > an hour a day. Haven’t much dug into how my habits have evolved over time. I’ve been meaning to write more about this at some point and see what else I can glean from this weirdly specific data set!