Stop Using Bookmarks

The bookmark. A small, flimsy piece of paper or plastic wedged into the latest book you’re reading (unless you deface your books by dog-earing them—but hear me out dog-earers: this essay is still for you). Bookmarks are a convenience I’m guessing you take for granted and to which you don’t give a second thought. In this essay I will attempt to pursuade you to stop using them altogether.

Why?? You ask, would you ever want to eliminate such a simple convenience? When the alternative could mean losing your place and wasting valuable time, even potentially reading things not meant to be read yet(!!) It comes down to this: what purpose does reading fulfill for you?

A bookmark is a small piece of technology that slyly persuades you not to review what you’ve already read. When you don’t have a bookmark, you’re forced to look through the pages of the book trying to find your place. You review the things you’ve seen before. They become lodged deeper in your memory. Perhaps you realize, disappointingly, that you don’t remember the last 10 pages you read. Why not start 10 pages back then, instead of fooling yourself and trudging on into a story you’re not prepared to continue?

I want to address perhaps the biggest point naysayers will bring up: without a bookmark, spoilers are possible. You could flip too far and spoil and important plot point. Here’s my opinion on spoilers: they don’t matter. You’ll read a good story whether it’s spoiled or not. We read books because they tell good stories, not because there’s a special nugget of information waiting for us at the end of the book.

If you’re reading to simply complete a book, to mark it off your Goodreads list and continue to the next one, sure, go ahead and use a bookmark. But if you’re reading to soak in the life and experiences printed in ink on the page, I recommend testing your knowlege a bit each time you pick up the book. Forego the bookmark.