Sometime in the late 2000s, my friend Camille told me how she usually reads books. Not like read read, but how she archives books.
Up till that point, I had only wrote a short, jokey review on goodreads.com and if I was up to it, write the biggest takeaway I got from the book on an index card and stuck it under the inside cover.
Camille’s method was to take an artifact of the time of when you read it, like the bookstore receipt, perhaps, or a café napkin and that would be your bookmark. Then on the inside cover, write the date you finished the book. It all gives context to where you were mentally, physically, and emotionally, when you read the book in case you ever want to go back through your library to reread it.
We were supposed to make bookplates together at some point but we never got to it. She likes paperback, I like hardcover, what are you going to do.
Also, bookplates scare me. They’re so permanent. My parents have a big, vast, library, but they don’t really have a bookplate – they have an embossing stamp. It’s subtle, sleek, and very cool. My mom got me a bookplate ink stamp as a kid from the book fair, but the thought of desecrating a perfect book with an ink stamp seems awful to me. I don’t even use a pencil to solve a maze in activity books, I just use my eyes.
But then after seeing Casey Neistat “destroy” his belongings with a Sharpie, and living with my roommate Casey (another Casey), I began to understand that things are just things. I always did Camille’s archival bookmark method, but then I slowly began writing behind book covers with the date I finished it.
Anyway, I recently bought a physical book for the first time in a long time because it wasn’t available in any electronic formats. This time, in addition to the bookmark, and date finished, I also added date bought, so it wouldn’t seem like a was too slow of a reader. (I am.)
Then I remembered those bookplates I was supposed to make but never got to.
So I made some stickers from StickerApp and it works ok. It can smear and it doesn’t have enough room for me to write my biggest takeaway or a jokey review of the book, but I was able to add a third date, marking when I started reading, because I am obsessed with documentation.