Digging through boxes of books is the best part of my job as a used-book seller. I love the fact that I can come across nearly anything: a moldy copy of "Ulysses," a Victorian-era scrapbook filled with trade cards, a first edition of Steinbeck. This daily treasure hunt led directly to my fascination with forgotten bookmarks.
I started noticing treasures within the treasures - little bits of random ephemera left inside books, often untouched for decades. I found family photos, old advertisements, letters and postcards, even some crumbs of food. I thought these forgotten scraps were fascinating, and held onto the most interesting ones.
One day, I came across a copy of a fairly common microwave cookbook - the sort published by the appliance manufacturer to make a few extra dollars. By then, it was habit for me to flip through the pages looking for a lost treasure, and this book didn't disappoint.
Near the end of the book, I spread the pages to discover a very large marijuana leaf, dried and pressed and in perfect condition. There was something about this juxtaposition - a pot leaf stuck inside a hurry-up cookbook - that struck me as particularly hilarious. I had visions of the impatient stoner, desperate with hunger, reaching for the book and marking a recipe with the item closest at hand. This was one find I just had to share.
I took a quick picture of the leaf and the book, and emailed it to a few friends. They thought it was hilarious, and they made me promise to send along any other interesting finds. I eventually set up a very simple blog in 2007, and started posting everything I found. Nearly 1,000 posts and a book later, I am now certain that I am not the only one who finds these forgotten bookmarks interesting.
These images represent some of the stranger bookmarks I've come across, oddball items that make me wonder who these readers were, where they are now, and, most importantly, why anyone would booby-trap a book with a bunch of razor blades.