What do you use as a bookmark? Having worked in a second hand bookshop for a few years let me tell you that you do not generally use these below.


My favourite bookmark is the woman with the big hair. It’s for  Sparkle Hayter’s books featuring Robin Hudson. She is, if you read her website, ‘The funniest thing to have come out of Canada since the moose.’

  • Boarding passes – are by far the most common.
  • Photos as well. I always find that sad. Here am I staring at a photo of someone that means nothing to me. Often the temptation is to see if the person in the photo matches the book in some way but that way madness lies.
  • Postcards.
  • Bookmarks are occasionally used, giving a rather mournful history of the British booktrade: Ottakar’s anyone? Or Books etc? Or Borders? Or Dillons? I had a fondness for Borders in Oxford Street. Occasionally a bookshop I worked for back then: a cheerful yellow owl waves a wing at me from Bookcase or a Silver Moon glints at me. Since the bookshop is in West London, Daunt’s is a favourite as well. Daunt’s are impeccably rigorous about never letting a book go out of their shop without a bookmark in it.
  • Once a crude cartoon of a hairy cock and balls fell out, that came in with a whole load of Spanish books. I imagined a bored air steward (or stewardess?) from Almodovar’s I’m so Excited sketching it to pass the time.
  • Then there’s money – an old one pound note, uncashed premium bonds and even the odd cheque.
  • Bills – the other day the bar bill  from a cruise – oof, those antiquities must have been pretty blurred.
  • My most worrying one was a Happy Easter card figuring a weirdly feminized rabbit with rather a smug smile and worryingly long eyelashes; it had a purple bow round its neck. The book was Mother Angelica’s Answers not Promises and on the card were the written the words, ‘to help you to become holy.’ You may not be altogether surprised to learn that the book was in the same pristine condition it must have been in when it first came fresh from the presses.
  • The dust of crumbling pressed leaves or flowers fall out of gardening books, especially the old ones.
  • Nothing falls out of cookery books because the pages are usually stuck together with cooking splatter/old tomato sauce and when they are like that unfortunately we have to throw them away.
  • One of my all time favourites was a brochure for the 8th Puffin Exhibition. It’s not dated but it’s signed by Barbara Willard a writer I read as a child. As a proud member of the Puffin club I too waved flags and said Hooray!
  • Old bus tickets. Once a very old one for the number 14 bus route, one I happen to use quite often.


So, a little advice when you take your books to a charity shop. Give them a quick thumb through and a shake, or a stranger will be looking at your photos, with a degree of regret, or puzzling over your bar bill on that cruise, or wondering who bought you that religious book. Or staring at a very old note and wondering who’s going to take that to the Bank of England.

What do I use? Receipts often, old envelopes, bank statements, little pieces of torn off newspaper, the odd Caffè Nero loyalty card, the stubs of theatre tickets. I don’t think I’ve ever used money, although the new fivers look hard wearing enough. Very rarely, I might actually use a bookmark. I’ve got a few to choose from.

Let’s end with a poem from a Blackwell’s Bookshop bookmark, originally designed in 1939. Blackwell’s incidentally was the first bookshop I ever used so you’ll have to excuse this nauseatingly sentimental poem!

There, in the Broad, within whose booky house

Half England’s scholars nibble books or browse.

Where’er they wander blessed fortune theirs:

Books to the ceiling, other books upstairs;

Books, doubtless, in the cellar, and behind

Romantic bays, where iron ladders wind.



I know, I know but you can’t say I didn’t warn you. Now then how about you? Confess all. What do you use?

And for some fantastically weird things found in library books take a look here:


52 thoughts on “BOOKMARKS

  1. Very interesting and entertaining post, Vicky. I’m a book lover/collector as well as writer, and I’ve found my share of “stuff” inside used books. Money (alas, small denominations) a few times, business cards, bobby pins, paper clips, a baseball card (not old or a star), and other odd things I can’t recall right now. My latest was last week when I received a used hard boiled mystery from Amazon. The book was printed in 1959 and the receipt I found inside was dated 1959. The old paperback was yellowed, but otherwise in very good condition. I suppose the receipt is from the original purchase. I’m keep that one with its book.
    As for me, I tend to cut junk mail cardstock into bookmark-sized pieces. It puts all that junky stuff to a good use. Thanks again for a wonderful post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Michael. Second hand books are sort of like purses or wallets, the same kinds of things fall out. Nice to put that junk mail to good use. I’ve got one made from an old car insurance ad which I favour, maybe simply because I made it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anything that comes to hand basically, and I then waste valuable reading time looking desperately for the thing I’ve used – the pre-booked theatre tickets, that bill that needs paid yesterday, the card the postie left telling me which neighbour has my parcel… I have about a million bookmarks too, but they’re all in books! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I collect found bookmarks, so I’d be horrified if people shook their books out before donating them!

    Yes to tickets, boarding passes etc. I’ve never found personal photos but I did find a signed photo of the actor Gerard Horan 🙂 My first find was a Korean Airlines menu.

    I’m yet to find money though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Madam Bibi. Ah, yes. Maybe I should have said shake your books, take out the photos and put everything else back in. It’s personal photos which are the saddest because usually we have no way of tracing them back to their right homes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bookmarks are like safety pins and bobby pins: they all disappear down a black hole. In times of need, I find a receipt from the local supermarket serves me well. They are so huge these days, they certainly do the job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello ambrdambra! Yes, you’re right receipts are huge and also there’s no worry about damaging them or losing them. I’ve got a very beautiful mother of pearl bookmark that belonged, I think, to my mother but I’ve never dared put it anywhere near a book!


  5. Ah the interesting things you find in books! I always check the books I am giving to charity shops before they leave my house. I have a huge bookmark collection but these days most of my books come from the library so I use the paper hold slip the library put in the book as my bookmark. It also comes in handy as a piece of scrap paper for writing down notes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I only use one bookmark while I read. It’s one I made myself out of a gift bag. This way I only need to keep track of one bookmark (I lose track of it all the time). And I always check my library books before returning them just in case I forgot to take this particular bookmark out. I do love finding neat bookmarks in charity books I buy, that’s always fun to have a look into another reader’s reading life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have found all sorts of things too. The other day at a used book sale, I found a set of old UAE stamps. They were in a book I didn’t buy but came home with me in a book I did. I once found a wonderful, small matted drawing of Einstein. It now sits propped on a bookshelf. The oddest thing, by far, was a (clean) panty liner I found in a library book. I have lots of bookmarks, but I also use whatever bit of paper is handy. But never a panty liner!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As a child I collected bookmarks but even then rarely used them. Nowadays I’m one of those who uses boarding passes or train tickets – I seem to have an awful lot of the latter which last forever and are of a pleasing thickness and colour to spot when they fall out! At our library they have a collection of the ‘bookmarks’ which have been left behind but I’ve never seen a cartoon cock and balls in their selection – you have been lucky!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Definitely a boarding pass person as they’re big and sturdy. I’m sure I once heard of a fish being found as a bookmark – I have an image of a fat mackerel for some reason – but can’t believe it was ever true, unless it was some dried little thing…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, an excellent confession! Well, I think you like the idea more than the recipient of the book did because it was pristine and unopened – you can tell when a book hasn’t been read because it’s got too much bounce in its pages!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh I would love to work in a second hand book shop. What an adventure discovering all these books brought in and everything they contain. I normally find my bookmark before starting a new book, but in the event that I don’t have it I use a little piece I tear out of a weekly magazine, or I just try to memorise the page.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I use whatever is thin enough to fit between pages. * insert shy smile * I mostly use old bills, toilet paper ( yes. That happens when I´m desperate ) candy wrappers, a piece of fabric ( after I made a mess sewing ). It´s practically ANYTHING within my reach but I do use bookmarks when I find them. I actually prefer to use them. 🙂 Great post. ❤


  12. I used to collect the bookmarks given at libraries and schools but I can hardly find those anymore (sad).
    Now I usually just use and piece of paper I find near me while I read.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I tried to find some pretty or amusing bookmarks for a Christmas gift for my daughter but really couldn’t find the right thing this year. Also something for myself. Is it me or is the selection getting poorer? If that’s the case I will have to stick with my usual library receipt or shopping receipts although you I do love the idea of a postcard Vicky! In fact the more I think of it 2017 may be the year I go upmarket! Perhaps you’d like to take a look to see which books our family received in our stockings at
    Best Wishes Lou

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lou and thanks for visiting. Some of the most beautiful are from art exhibitions. Lovely lot of books you got. I like the baby owls. I got Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography which I can’t wait to start!


  14. It’s funny what you might find in a used or borrowed book. Books that I take on vacations, usually have my boarding pass stuck in them. When I worked in an office, I would often use post-it notes, with some scribbled work-related note on them, which were often nonsensical when rediscovered years later. At home, I have a collection of bookmarks bought at museums or given away at book fairs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello PB thanks for visiting and commenting. Some of my favourites come from museums and art galleries. The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace produced a real beauty in 1997. That falls out of quite a few of the books we get in the shop.


      • My husband is British and although we travel to England frequently, I’ve still not had a chance to visit Buckingham Palace ( or Windsor Castle, I’ve only been to Windsor Legoland!), but I will add those to the list. Somewhere floating around the house, I have a beautiful bookmark from Kensington Palace. Bookmarks and postcards make the best souvenirs: inexpensive, easy to pack, and they always make me happy with vacation memories.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there and thanks for visiting and following. It does give insight into someone else’s life. I always find it very sad when people leave photos in the books because you feel there must be someone out there who should be looking at them and it’s not me!


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