I almost never use a bookmark.
This is due in part to my nearly perfect memory for the written word, so that when I pick the book up again, I can turn to my page based on the muscle memory of how the book felt the last time I held it (how many pages in each hand, how its weight was distributed) plus the memory of what the page I was reading looked like — lots of words or a few, where the paragraph breaks were, how much dialogue, beginning of a chapter, right- or left-hand side…
Yeah, it’s kind of freaky.
The other reason is that, even though I have an assortment of very lovely bookmarks, I never have them handy when I need one. So I grab whatever is close by: an old shopping list, a coupon, a business-reply envelope, those annoying post-card inserts that fall out of magazines… Frequently, I get my books from the public library and if they have been placed on reserve for me, they come with a little slip of paper inside with my initials and the date of the reservation. Instant bookmark!
I think my favorite substitute bookmark is the thank you note. These little cards are a perfect size, even for paperbacks, and their bright colors make me smile every time I open the book, even before I start reading. Instead of receiving the note, reading it and tossing it — into the recycling, or into a pile of papers never to be looked at again — I tuck it into my latest book, and for the next few weeks or months, I get to think of my friend every time I read. And I read all the time.
What do you use for bookmarks? And please don’t say you turn the book over and crack the spine. I just can’t be your friend if you do that.