Monday, April 11, 2016

Another reason to read real books: Real bookmarks!

It’s always a lively discussion whenever you’re in a room with a dozen or so readers and the topic of e-books is raised.

E-bookers enjoy the portability and instant access to hundreds of diverse titles.

But there’s just something about a book. Us old-schoolers prefer the heft, the tactility, and communal visibility that comes from everyone seeing just what you’re reading.

Sure, I’m happy any time anyone is reading my stuff, but it pains me to think there is someone on an airplane laughing out loud at something I’ve written and nosy seat mates are unable to see one of my covers.

Then there’s this: I like to sign every book I sell. And I don’t just sign. I express my gratitude, put something thoughtful and with the crayons book always include a little crayon doodle.

You just can’t do that with an e-book.

I have a friend who calls me an off-color nickname alluding to a part of the male anatomy.

On his book, I was able to draw a crude rendering of the description right there on the page. I carefully drew the profile and made a little smile face up at the top, a rare case of putting a little heart into a little penis.

Had he owned an e-book, I would have had to scratch it on the screen with a roofing nail and he’d have probably beaten the crap out of me.

But I’ve recently begun sharing with friends another delightful advantage real books have over e-books.

It is the bookmark.

Yes, e-books have bookmarks. But like so much of our e-world, they’re soulless functionaries.

A real bookmark for a real book is a story unto itself.

I guess I started collecting bookmarks back in the 1980s after my mother returned from a European trip where she’d served as a chaperone for a church youth group. She thoughtfully brought me back leather bookmarks, one from Chester, England, the other from Scotland.

They were the perfect gifts; small, inexpensive and a reminder of a dear loved one every time I use them. And I still use them often.

I keep them all with about 50 others (some pictured above) in a personalized greeting card some friends gave us during the party Val and I threw when we began shacking up on July 1, 1992.

I have about 15 tickets from sporting events and old concerts, memorable ones from Bob Dylan, Elton John/Billy Joel, U2, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and four from various Stones tours. Third row seats for the ’94 Voodoo Lounge Tour at Three Rivers Stadium cost $82.

I have some with quotes from Lincoln, Mark Twain and Albert Einstein, and some — also gifts from Mom — that include sayings about friendship and tranquility.

I have two pressed once-brilliant leaves from a dogwood tree from the old house where Val and I used to live.

We’d planted the tree ourselves amidst ashes from my old man’s cremains. It was a beautiful tree. Of course, it was. He was a beautiful man.

Now most of my favorites are things the kids scribbled for me. Josie and I snuck away to a ’10 matinee to see Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” She later clipped a picture of Alice out of a magazine and wrote: “I had so much fun seeing this with you!”

It’s now preserved in lamination.

Another favorite is one Lucy, 9, wrote last year. It said in a delightful scrawl: “I love to read. Especially with my Daddy!”

A great bookmark to me should be as essential as the book it marks.

Take my latest.

It is a simple white feather.

I snagged it from Josie’s costume from her role as Scuttle the seagull in the GLSD middle school’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”

I think of her joyful performance every single time I see it. It adds so much to my daily joy of reading.

See, I’ve always said I’ve been the kind of reader who’s been tickled by bookmarks.

Now I have a feather to prove it.

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