Friday, June 3, 2011

Just So Stories

Just So Stories
By Rudyard Kipling

People never ask me: "What do you use for a bookmark," but they should. It's an interesting question. One that deserves some thought.

Since moving to Taiwan nine years ago I have tended to use people's name cards. In Taiwan, name cards are serious business and everyone falls all over themselves to give you theirs. So I've always got a handful of ideally sized paper rectangles in the pocket of my pants waiting for something to do. And since I don't often pick my teeth with them, bookmark is a perfect job. While I usually favor my wife's name card (they are most readily available to me) I am currently using a friend's card. She makes women's jewelry. Since I am never going to be her target market and I could never pick my teeth with it, I figured her card acting as my current bookmark is the highest show of support I can give her. Being my bookmark is an honor.

But I have not always used name cards. In my younger days I tended toward folded lined paper, Post-It Notes, photos, bank books and unpaid bills. In my more desperate hours I have been known to use TV remotes, pens, my wallet, foreign currency, keys, photographs, a cell phone, tissue or even other books. In a pinch, virtually anything that within reaching distance will do so long as it is of a certain size, and dry. Someone will be along shortly with a name card and I can return to normalcy.

I have, on occasion, owned actual bookmarks. Some were promotional materials for new releases when I worked in publishing, others were more finely crafted bits of art. I once was in possession of a leather bookmark with my initials engraved on a gold plate near the top. It was a gift from my great aunt... one I wish I hadn't lost. I would never pay for a bookmark as a luxury item. Like pens and CDs, bookmarks exist to be lost. The world is just too full of things to mark your page.

I have never been a fan of turning the book upside down on a table. I believe that flipping a book ages it prematurely and I'm not interested in the systematic destruction of literature, thankyouverymuch. Furthermore, if you leave a book in that state too long, it develops an affinity for that particular page and it's hard to train that out of a book, especially if you crack the spine.

As for dog-earring, I'm of two minds. A dog-eared book looks well-read, but too many and it makes the book look unnecessarily ragged and worn (or ends up looking like a research book for a doctorate candidate). One has to treat a book well on its journey through life lest it end up in a recycling bin long before it should. Dog-ear with caution.

In conclusion, what I use for a bookmark is an interesting topic. Far more interesting than Rudyard Kipling's almost unreadable collection of Just So Stories. If you are desperate for something of this nature, and I can't see why, read Aesop's Fables.


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