Your Reading Life

To Bookmark or Not to Bookmark?

"I don't use bookmarks," admits RIF editor Kira Walton. "I have nothing against them, I just never got in the habit."

Here’s what I do: when I’m done reading, I glance at the paragraph I just finished and then I close my book. When I come back, I flip through the pages until I find that paragraph. It usually takes me a while to find my spot.

My husband thinks I’m crazy. “Here,” he’ll say as he watches me for the thousandth time, “use this scrap of paper as a bookmark!” I always tell him, “no thanks, I got it….” as I page aimlessly through my book.

Here’s why: I actually enjoy getting lost in my book.

As I flip around looking for the right page, I find myself re-reading random passages. Sometimes (if the book is really well-written), I’ll just land where I land and re-read whole sections until I come to the paragraph I ended at the day before.

This is not to say I don’t like bookmarks. I think they’re neat.

I admire them in book stores, I give them as gifts. I’ve been given more bookmarks than I can count (usually by thoughtful friends who have seen me thumbing through my book, trying to find my place).

The only bookmark I’ve kept sits in my bedside drawer. It’s the one Tattered Cover Book Store gave me at the launch event for my book, Good Books Lately. It’s a lovely pewter bookmark, engraved with the date of my reading. I keep it for sentimental reasons.

But do I use it? No. I prefer to get lost.

So how about you? Do you bookmark? Do you dog-ear? Do you hit the “bookmark” button on your e-Reader? How do you keep your place when you’re reading? Tell us in a comment!

About the Author

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life. College English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, book marketer, and now editor at Read It Forward. As much as she loves living in the Colorado mountains, she misses her favorite place to read: the NYC subway. She'll read over your shoulder if you're not careful.

  • Jackie Blem

    I am almost always reading more than one book, so I use bookmarks. My brain just can’t keep all those page numbers straight.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      I’m a one-book-at-a-time kind of reader most of the time. If I were like you, Jackie, I bet I’d start using bookmarks!

  • Robin

    I would go crazy if I didn’t bookmark!! Anything works though my phone, a pen, a sandwich(wrapped of course!!!lol) NEVER fold down corners!!! Oh the horror!!

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Hahaha. That’s what everyone tells me! As for dog-earing, I hear from a lot of RIFers who agree with you – blasphemy!

  • Kelly Ballenger

    I absolutely love bookmarks!! I have all kinds of bookmarks and I use them all the time. I have several books going at a time, plus with 2 littles, work, communte and school I would never be able to remember page numbers. I never dog-ear books for that is just a sin. I also never leave open with the insides down. It ruins the spine. Use a bookmark for God’s sake!

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Oooh, Kelly, would you consider emailing a pic of your collection? It would be so fun to feature you in our Reader Spotlight! You can email me at readitforward@randomhouse.com

  • Susan Beamon

    I use bookmarks. I am another who has more than one book going at a time, and I hate the damage dog-earing does to a book. Without bookmarks I’d be lost.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Thanks for commenting, Susan. Seems like RIFers feel pretty strongly that dog-earing books is a no-no!

  • Ronnie

    Not only do i bookmark, but i change my bookmark with every new book I pick up! Buying bookmarks is almost as big a sickness as buying books for me! lol I work at an elementary school and we have a book fair twice a year. That’s usually where I get my ‘fix’ from since they’re cuter and cheaper than in the stores.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Haha, a bookmark-buying sickness! Ronnie, I’ll ask you what I asked Kelly: would you consider emailing a pic of your collection? It would be so fun to feature you in our Reader Spotlight! You can email me at readitforward@randomhouse.com

  • Cathy

    Bookmarks, always bookmarks. I buy them (special bm for Harry Potter books) I make them (Cross Stitch) I give them away. If I lend a book (in and of itself, an unusual occurance) to someone I never lent to before, I give them a bookmark with instructions NEVER to dog-ear my books, mostly hard-backs, or this is the last book you will ever get from me. (nicely, not mean) I have a really good friend that used to dog-ear, doesn’t anymore and is still using the first bookmark I made for her.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Thanks for commenting! I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Kelly and Ronnie: would you consider emailing a pic of your collection, especially the bookmarks you’ve made? It would be so fun to feature you in our Reader Spotlight! You can email me at readitforward@randomhouse.com

  • Jenn

    I definitely use a bookmark. I am lost without it. The only problem I have with it is that if I leave my book lying around and my husband gets his hands on it, he changes the bookmark to a different page. So when I get back to it, I’m lost. Drives me nuts and he knows it.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Jenn, I just read your comment to my husband and he started laughing maniacally and said, “oh man, I LOVE that!!!”

  • Trish Feehan

    Love the idea of literally getting lost in a book, Kira! I use a bookmark with one of my favorite quotes: May you live all these days of your life ~ Jonathon Swift. Wish the same for you.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      That’s sweet, Trish, thank you so much. I just added that quote to my fav list!

  • Alexandria

    I love bookmarks some a very pretty. i love to use them when i read .
    great topic !!
    just wanted to say thanks so much for sending me a literary journal .I love it.
    and what great packaging thanks.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Alexandria, you’re very welcome! Enjoy the journal and we’ll be in touch soon to learn more about what you’d like to see from RIF.

  • techeditor

    Gees! I agree with your husband! I get mad at myself if I don’t find where I left off right away. I have so many books to read, I hate wasting precious minutes rereading sentences I already read.
    I, too, have all sorts of bookmarks. But I usually use the note or packing slip that came with my book. If nothing came with it, I usually use something the Humane Society sent to me. But I ALWAYS use something.

  • Pat

    I always bookmark. It’s hard to remember where you are when you have a least 5 books going at one time. “Bent corner” is a distinct no-no in my library. At one time, I even had bookmarks made out of recycled microfiche–extremely long lasting.

  • tee

    I wanted a sticker collection as a kid, but bookmarks were cheaper and easier to collect, since most libraries gave nice ones away for free. I still have my childhood collection, tied with the same hairtie.

    As for pages, I either note the page I’m on, or use a random snivvle of paper. Just a little scrap.

  • Paula Baxter

    Am I the only reader guilty of leaving multiple books face-down all over the house? My husband uses bookmarks, and I always admire the pristine spines of his sci-fi books, but my poor books do not have easy lives.

  • helene

    i sort of do what you do, Kira, but i don’t look at the paragraph. i look at the page number and really strive to remember the number. it’s like a mental exercise, trying to keep my mind sharp. and surprisingly, it works! (who knows for how long though….)

  • Lorie

    I use magnetic bookmarks since they can’t fall out of the book. When I’m traveling, if I see one, it makes a great souvenir or easy to pack small gift to bring back.

  • Silver’s Reviews

    I could never not use a bookmark. :)

    I use envelopes, bills, pieces of paper, and sometimes actual bookmarks. :)

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

  • Sandy Steckler

    I have to use bookmarks and I change them often. On vacation, I try to find a bookmark of the place we visited so I constantly reminded of past vacations. I hate it when people turn the pages down in books.

  • Carole

    I use receipts and tattered pieces of paper but not actual book marks. I can’t keep track of them, so if I’m going to loose the book mark I’m using I’d rather not have spent money on them

  • Amy Jewell

    I choose bookmarks for each book I’m reading according to mood or theme. Hopeless…but it’s very important to me:)

  • Jean

    Yes, I do bookmark but I do not harm the book with dog-ears. I really hate to see books that have been mistreated in that way.

  • Rachael

    Sometimes I use real bookmarks, sometimes paper scraps or old envelopes, sometimes pictures. And other times I just look at my page # and hope that I’ll remember later.

  • LiteraryLinda

    I always use bookmarks and never dogear. My favorite bookmark is made of leather. I love it because the rough side helps keep it from sliding out of my book. It has a beaver etched onto it and has “Mountainmen Museum” etched on it as well.

  • Elaine Ylioja

    Definitely, I use bookmarks. I hate when people dog-ear books. I think it shows disrespect for those who read it after you. At our library, where I happen to be librarian, I always encourage people to take a bookmark or two.