Do you leave things inside books and forget about them? Or do you press flowers and leaves between the pages, so that many years later you will open that book and a memory will come flooding back?
There are several interesting sites on the web about strange objects left in books, and some book shops have even created displays of the odd objects found in books. Bookmarks are the most commonly forgotten thing, often those produced by the shop where the book was purchased. I have one friend who always leaves the receipt inside, so she can see years later how extravagant she was, or wasn’t. I envy the bookseller who opened a volume to have a signed letter by C.S. Lewis come tumbling out. Personal letters are often used as temporary bookmarks and then forgotten, so are airlines tickets, cinema stubs, grocery lists, photos and recipes. More peculiar items discovered between the pages include locks of hair, fabric samples (a shade of grey for that dreadful Fifty Shades of Grey book would be appropriate), and keys. Monopoly money and real money drop out quite often, but for me the two strangest objects I’ve heard of are a rasher of bacon and a smallpox sample left inside books.
Each item evokes a history – who was taking that flight? Which person could be so absentminded and smell-insensitive as to leave raw bacon in a volume? Who features in the photo, and did the things on the grocery list ever get bought? There is a mystery about such items, unless you placed them there yourself, and perhaps even then it can be hard to remember how the item came to be there. So next time you pick up something rather odd to use as a bookmark, think carefully about who might one day find it still there.
I’d love to hear what you’ve found forgotten inside a book.
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