The confessions of a bookmark, part 4

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As I’ve told you, I like being what I am, a bookmark open to the heavens of knowledge, imagination and history. I like being of service to the reader. I never waste time while I lie within those pages. That’s when my work begins. The reader thinks that by putting the bookmarked book down, reading has stopped for the moment, but that is not true. I have learned to do my reading as diligently as those readers who can bring the book to mind after every read. I think I am doing a good job. I’ve learned a great deal from the silent exercise of reading the book as a bookmark.

Where would the world be without bookmarks? Without us to bring pause and effect to one’s reading? We are the church bells of every reader, the canonical hours of every novel. We break the journey into stages and provide the steps on the road to Compostella. We punctuate, relieve and recover. Without us, the reader’s pilgrimage would be long, treacherous and unfulfilling. It would never progress past the start line, and it would never reach the finish line without losing itself. Readers forget about us only because they’ve grown so used to us.

The world doesn’t need bookmarks, you’ll say. If readers can keep up with the storyline, the characters and all the shifts in a novel, surely they can remember the page number they stopped at. It’s just a number, and I agree. But, you see, I do a lot more than help readers remember page numbers. When they drop me inside the pages, readers make me the protector of their journey, like Odysseus’ Athena. They know that while I keep watch from inside the book, sticking my apotropaic head out, their passage is safe. I am the book’s gargoyle, preventing the spectres of oblivion, waste and perdition from penetrating.

[to be continued]


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