“ForgottenBookmarks” Explorers the Stories and Characters in Between the Book Pages
When a person gives away a book, chances are part of the book stays with them. But what many may not know is that from time to time, something of them stays with the book too.
Forgottenbookmarks.com exists solely to discover what others have left behind in what they read. Most of the time, it’s pressed old leaves, but there is also no shortage of gems, be they menus from steak houses across the country, black and white pictures of strangers and their families, hosts of hand-written recipes, centuries-old newspaper clippings, children’s tickets to county fairs, and even the page of flattened Skittles. Some finds date back to the 19th century, while others are kitsch of the 1970s and 1980s.
The website was started by a woman named Michael who began working at her family’s bookstore in upstate New York at age seven. Now the proprietor, she sorts through 500 to 600 books a day, and finds maybe five or six items of interest.
Among the memorabilia, of course, is an indisputable homage to quirky and unusual bookmark aesthetics. Take for example the leather bookmark from Bermuda with a tab reading “Here I fell asleep,” or similarly, the one from the obstetrician’s office in shape of a bespectacled man reading a book entitled “my eyes tired here.”
And it’s not just art that Michael finds in books, but (go figure) literary works as well. A nostalgic letter, for example, dated 1876 from one MD Spaulding on vacation at Hotel Thunerhof, Switzerland to what appears to be her relative, Ben, in New York. Most of the handwritten letter was deciphered by Michael and a colleague and is striking in its colorful prose, reading more like an epistolary start of an 19th century bucolic romantic novel (think Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) than a banal correspondence.
Michael has collected some of the memorable finds in books of her own, which she sells through the site, including a “handwritten recipe” cookbook. And she doesn’t mind help: readers are welcome to submit their own finds. Just don’t submit anymore pressed leaves.