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A Book Gift That Should Not Be Forgotten

Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

The first blog that I ever followed with any sort of consistency, and that I still follow, is Forgotten Bookmarks. It’s a blog curated by Michael Popek, a used and rare bookseller, and it features the forgotten items that he finds pressed between the pages of the books he buys. It began as a simple little project, a way of sharing his finds with people he thought would appreciate them, and, as of last month, it has taken the form of beautiful book chronicling some of the most memorable items from his collection.

The book is formatted in much the same way as the blog. There is little or no commentary from Popek. He generally includes a photograph of the book and the item found. When there are words involved, he offers a transcription. If he is able to easily identify the people involved, he might make a note about who they were and where they lived.

The items included in the book range from the expected – actual bookmarks, photographs, and receipts – to the unusual, including a hairnet (inside Elements of Mechanics and Machine Design) and unused cap gun caps (inside Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship). My favorite items are the old recipes. There have been so many over the years that Popek has started a separate blog just for them, called Handwritten Recipes.

I mention this to you now because Forgotten Bookmarks makes a perfect gift for any librarian, bookseller, or voyeuristic book lover, and this is, after all, the season of giving. There is something fascinating about seeing the things that someone might grab to use as a bookmark. It makes me wonder about where the reader was, what he was doing, or who she was with. I feel like I know a secret. I just don’t know what it is.

Every time I see a new post, I wonder about the things I’ve left behind in my books. I eagerly await the day that I can finally dig through the boxes that I have waiting for me in storage to find my forgotten bookmarks. There will be a few receipts, I’m sure. And movie tickets. If I’m lucky, I’ll find cash.