We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but what reader hasn’t been guilty of judging someone by the book in her lap? Let’s dig a little deeper (or a little shallower, depending how you look at it) and talk about what the thing you put inside your books says about you. My extremely unscientific findings follow:
A black ribbon. You frequently make eye contact with strangers through the spaces in library shelves, and have a tendency to come across mysterious photos in the pages of used books. When you pass a ringing pay phone (increasingly rare these days), you never fail to pick up.
A sandwich shop punch card. You like to read while you eat, and who can blame you? You also like to read in the tub—hence the ripply bottoms of half the titles on your shelves.
A puffy floral bookmark with a tassel. There’s someone in your life who loves you very much, but doesn’t know a whole lot about you. Whether it’s a parent, a grandma, or a very generous coworker, they’ve only managed to absorb the fact that your nose is always in a book. And so you receive blank journals and cushy bookmarks at the rate of about three per holiday.
Branded bookstore bookmark. You bookstore tourist, you. Hawaii? Pass. You’d rather spend your vacation days in the chilly embrace of the Portland Powell’s. Morocco, Spain, the pyramids? More like the Strand, City Lights, and Shakespeare and Co. Who needs a Big Ben shot glass when you’ve got a bookmark from Foyles?
A knife. Forget libraries: You tend to find your favorite books buried at a six-corner crossroads, wrapped in the hair of a virgin bride. You’re into genealogy, mainly because you can trace yours back to Lilith.
Another, smaller book. You read everything, always. You read books in the street, shampoo bottles in the shower, and magazines at stoplights. When caught away from home without a book (the horror!), you read license plates, sales flyers, and the backs of other people’s newspapers out of desperation.
A ripped-off piece of junk mail. You’re a democratic reader without a trace of snobbishness. Friend’s recommendation, stoop-sale giveaway, library’s new release table—who cares! If it’s words on a page, you’ll give it a try.
Bookmark, schmookmark. A bent-back page is good enough for you! You like your books lived in—a little foxing never hurt anybody. You’re the bane of librarians everywhere, but you never say no to loaning out your favorites. Which is why you might as well go ahead and buy six copies of Cloud Atlas now. The good ones tend to get away.
How do you keep your place in a book?