I rarely use bookmarks, partly because I keep them in special places that are hard to reach from bus stops and friends’ houses, and partly because I’m getting a small collection of handmade and beautiful but impractical bookmarks from friends and family. They’re beautiful, but embroidered and beady bookmarks (or anything thicker than thin card) might damage pages or fall out, since I cannot wedge them in tight against the jostling of public transport.
This is my newest, brought back by my father from Pretoria. It’s got all the feminist bibliophile ticks of approval; pretty, packaged with statement of provenance, made by women, bookmark. I’m delighted to have it, and while I’d probably break the beads if I carried it around, I’m sure one day I’ll have a use for it. When I opened the packet, I gave a good sniff. Things from Japan always somehow smell a little damp and dark, like the cigarette stub-ridden soil of flower beds outside a Tokyo train station. This thing from South Africa smelt smoky like burning wood and dry and sour sharp. I think I’m most delighted with how this bookmark has a distinct look, feel, and scent.