Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What Marks Your Spot? Leslie Budewitz, Bookmarks, and GUILTY AS CINNAMON

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Recently I sent a meme to a friend of mine who's a librarian — maybe you've seen it? It says something along the lines of "Bookmarks are for quitters." While I applaud the sentiment, we mere mortals sometimes have to mark where we are in a given book—whether it's to go to work, make a meal, or get some sleep. 

I have a few bookmarks that I love for sentimental reasons. One's a bookmark with a photograph of Winston Churchill and the quote "Never, never, never give up." There's one from a childhood friend that says "Keep Calm and Eat Cupcakes." And an engraved silver one from my first reading, which was at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Co. 

Author Leslie Budewitz, though, has a long and varied history with bookmarks, both comical and poignant. 

Leslie is giving away a copy of her perfect-for-the-holidays new book, GUILTY AS CINNAMON and a tea infuser to one lucky commenter.
Take it away, Leslie!

"When I get a little money, I buy books. 
And if there is any left over buy food."
— Deciderius Erasmus

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Don’t you just love the name Deciderius? What were his parents thinking?

I haven’t even started yet, and I’ve already digressed.

Not long ago, I needed to check a quote from a John Donne poem. (Don’t laugh; these things happen.) I pulled my ragged Norton’s Anthology of English Literature off the shelf and found not just the quote, but an amazing collection of old bookmarks.

I dragged out other volumes, shaking my head at what I discovered. The lost-and-found bookmarks read like a map of Seattle, where I spent most of my twenties and early thirties. A map of departed bookstores, dearly loved: Bailey/Coy Books on Broadway, where I bought the gray paperback editions of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Wimsey books, one at a time. The shop where I found Barbara Pym’s novels, gems of sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued storytelling. Second Story Bookstore in Wallingford, on the second floor of an old grade school. (The café next door was called “Recess,” the menu written on the ancient blackboards.)

The tour brought me back to Montana as well: A memento from Electric Avenue Books, the deeply-missed local bookstore, showing a two-story building with high arched windows. You’d recognize it in a flash on a stroll down our main street. I was surprised at the variety of bookmarks from the last indie in Kalispell, also closed. They changed seasonally, and always included a sketch and a literary quote, like the line from old Deciderius, above. Another, sporting an old roadster, quotes André Gide: “To read a writer is not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him, and travel in his company.” (Fittingly, I’d tucked that in Making Certain It Goes On: the Collected Poems of Richard Hugo, who often took road trips with friends and students around Montana and wrote poems inspired by the towns—and bars—they visited.)

And why I stuck a bookmark from Partners and Crime in New York in a Mary Oliver volume, I have no idea, but I think it would make the poet smile.

Quite a few of the bookstores still exist. I’ve signed at Seattle Mystery Bookshop several times, as have many of the Reds, and it touched me to find a bookmark from the shop’s early days, not long after Bill Farley opened it. I was a reader then, with no thoughts of writing. Newer versions hang on my office wall, along with bookmarks from other shops where I’ve read or signed.

Sadly, in a volume by e.e. cummings, I found a tasseled book mark bearing the smiling face of a toddler who’d been murdered by his father. His grandmother, a witness in an unrelated case, pressed it into my hands as we sat outside a federal courtroom.

I also found bits torn from envelopes, and a totally unfamiliar scrap of wallpaper. Crumpled maple leaves—remnants of my days at Notre Dame, a campus studded with magnificent trees. Course syllabuses—or syllabi, as Deciderius would probably call them. And in my copy of Montana: A History of Two Centuries, my first business card. Not long after I started my first law firm job, my parents visited. My father asked for my card, and then, eyes twinkling, stuck it in the book he was reading—now on my shelf.

(After I came back to Montana and joined a small law firm in a small town, I was working in our library one day, and found a business card from the long-deceased father of a high school classmate. I hadn’t known he’d once worked there, but of course, I plucked out the card and gave it to her.)

On another shelf, there’s a tottering pile of bookmarks from favorite writers, conferences, and friends. No doubt you have a similar stack. But have you got a reindeer bookmark?

Will someone find one of my bookmarks in a treasured volume some day? I can only hope so.

Reds, do you collect bookmarks? Always use the lovely Italian leather bookmark your brother brought you from Florence? Or mark your place with a candy wrapper or a toothpick?

And don't forget, a book and a tea infuser to one lucky commenter.

GUILTY AS CINNAMON, second in the Spice Shop Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime, December 1)

Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She fell in love with the Pike Place Market as a college student in Seattle, and still makes regular pilgrimages. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. Connect with her through her website and blog, www.LeslieBudewitz.com, or on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/LeslieBudewitzAuthor


  1. I cannot abide dog-eared pages in my books, and I cringe whenever I happen to see someone bending the corner of a page to mark their place. The indignity some books suffer is like a stab at my heart.
    And so it is that I have a gazillion or so bookmarks. They tend to just sort of show up at odd moments around here. I have a stack of them, some just card stock, other fancy with little magnets so they can hug the page you've left them on . . . I don't know as I have a favorite, although the ones I have from writers are particularly treasured and I do have a weakness for pretty ribbon ones.

    Leslie, the tasseled bookmark with the toddler's picture made me cry and the reindeer made me laugh. I'm looking forward to reading "Guilty as Cinnamon."

  2. Leslie, I too sometimes find a trip down memory lane when I pull a volume off the shelf--past bookstores, past lives....some bookmarks are little treasures that I tuck away safely, others linger on in books that were important at different points in my life. Christmas is coming and so too the need for fun reads at the tail ends of busy days--I'll be looking for Guilty as Cinnamon for sure!

  3. Hi, Leslie! So happy to see you here.
    Love the idea of a bookmark collection. And your new book sounds like the perfect holiday read to inhale in one sitting.

  4. May I confess something? If I don't have a bookmark, sometimes I use a (clean, of course!) tissue to mark my place.... Obviously I need some more bookmarks!

  5. Welcome Leslie, what a fun post! Like Joan, I hate dog-eared pages, so sometimes some weird things get pressed into service. (Also hate when certain family members (who shall not be named) leave a book open on the table, face-down, to mark their place.

    My favorite bookmark was woven by my Aunt Carol, a master weaver and teacher who is now gone. It's blue and white and very intricate--reminds me how I wish I'd taken the chance to learn from her.

    Good luck with the new book--sounds like perfect holiday reading!

  6. Leslie is always a breath of fresh air , a true sui generis! There is only ONE Leslie on the planet! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  7. I love bookmarks and sometimes find myself with enough to put in every book I donate to the Library book sale, or the ones I give to friends and family.

  8. Leslie, this is a lovely piece and strikes a chord with me. I have so many bookmarks from stores and libraries, leather, engraved, fabric etc Ayer mostly I keep my place with a torn off piece of envelope. No idea why. And I too lament all those lost bookshops. I signed books at Poisoned Pen on Saturday and Vromans on Sunday and thanked God they still flourish

  9. Yay, Leslie. Your book awaits on my Kindle! I'm not a bookmark person, even though I give mine away freely, so I'm glad some people are.

  10. Bookmarks used to be favorite gift items; I have a silver one from my sister, and one that is woven into an Oriental rug pattern. And a stack of lots of others. My husband, despite the stacks of bookmarks everywhere, is more likely to tear a bit off a page of whichever magazine he's reading to mark a spot in his current book.

    Since I've been reading more and more e-books lately, I quite like the idea of authors signing bookmarks, instead of the books themselves. This occurred to me when I kept forgetting to have a friend sign her first book, and she offered to sign the bookmark, instead.

  11. Every time I get a bookmark I love, I lose it. Wow, I'm sensing a theme with myself this week. So often any scrap of paper-like substance will be pressed into service - scraps of newspaper, a receipt, a business card, etc.

    I had a silver and ribboned bookmark I loved - gone. Same with a magnetic one (surely I couldn't lose that, but alas).

    I think I'm doomed.

  12. Ah, Joan, I'm with you on the dog-eared pages! But -- and I hope this doesn't make you ill -- I do actually write in books sometimes, if I'm studying them for writerly tricks and tips. I did that on an airplane once, and I thought the woman across the aisle was going to need an airsick bag (do they still have those?). I explained, gave her bookmarks, and we had a lovely conversation about books -- but it was rough air for a few minutes!

  13. FCHurch, it is fun to see what caught the attention of your younger self, isn't it? Although I have to wonder sometimes...

    And Susan, at least you have a tissue handy if the book makes you weepy!

    Thanks, Hallie -- mine's kind of an accidental collection. I think those are the best kind!

  14. Lucy, that bookmark sounds lovely. They can be evocative in a way no torn corner of newspaper ever can!

    But that business of leaving a book open upside down? I did that once as a kid, and my father informed me that "books are our friends" and should not be treated that way!

    Thelma, you sweetheart -- thank you!

    Gram, I bet the Friends of the Library LOVE you!

  15. Leslie, so relieved you admit to writing in books. I do it all the time. And yes, I do dog ear pages, too. Don't shoot me! Hey, it's my book.

    And I love nothing more than when someone brings me one of my books to sign and it's dog eared and written in. Because too many book spines go uncracked.

  16. Rhys, congratulations on your new release, AWAY IN A MANGER! Like you, I'm grateful for those bookshops and many more -- there are a few new ones opening, which is such a hopeful sign. And so the bookmark collection grows!

    Edith, I don't have a Kindle, but it might be fun if the devices had a cute little bookmark option and not just a little cursor to tell you where you left off!

    Karen, yes -- signed bookmarks are a fun substitute. Your silver and woven bookmarks sound lovely.

  17. Hmm, Mary, sounds like a mystery waiting to be written: THE CASE OF THE MISSING BOOKMARK

    Of course, we've none of us mentioned that the ones with ribbons are very attractive to cats ... Sometimes a challenge for those of us who read in bed!

  18. Leslie, I don't know about the Kindle, but my Nook files all have a cute bookmark--it's turquoise, and shaped like an old-fashioned ribbon bookmark. It's an especially useful feature if I'm reading a book with a family tree, or a map of the area in the book. I like to refer back, and the bookmark lets me do that. I also use the e-bookmark to mark passages that I want to discuss at book club.

  19. These days I generally read on Kindle so, no physical bookmarks, but I frequently find them stuffed between the pages of the books on my shelves. I too have a collection from authors I've met and conferences attended. You've inspired me to be more vigilant in my collecting.

    Fun post and I'm looking forward to reading Guilty as Cinnamon.

  20. I love bookmarks. With the rise if e-books, the need for them varies, but I still always find myself looking at them when in the store.

    I order lots of UK books from The Book Depository (free shipping all the time) and in each shipment they include a bookmark. It's just a simple thin cardboard mark, but the designs are very cute and unique. It's fun because you never know what it will look like. And the back of the bookmark gives details of the book that inspired the design. Clever marketing at work.

  21. Karen, that sounds lovely -- no mere blinking cursor -- and the cyber ribbon won't tempt the cats!

    Kait, I too find myself keeping bookmarks from friends and cons. The Hyatt creates cute Sherlock-themed bookmarks for Malice Domestic that have gone up on my "clothesline" of notes and memorabilia pictured in the post. I look forward to getting one of yours!

    Kristopher, that sounds like fun -- a little bonus prezzie in every package! (Like Cracker Jacks: "A prize in each and every pack!")

  22. Bookmark user here. But I use more note cards and greeting cards than "formal" bookmarks. Finding a friend's words in the middle of a book -- I am a re-reader -- is a warm welcome. And notes from my late mother are treasured memories. Thanks, Leslie, for the post.
    By the way, I used your dad's "books are our friends" with a 5th grader who was about to dog ear her reading group book!

  23. I do use bookmarks, but more often than not it will be a receipt, or a piece of envelope. Whatever I have handy until I get a real one out.

  24. Elizabeth -- yes, those notes make great bookmarks, esp if they gave you the book. And notes from your mother -- well, I need that tissue Susan tucked in her book! Smiling about your 5th grader -- she'll remember that forever!

  25. I have that Churchill quote on a fridge magnet, Susan, alongside one that says, "It will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

  26. I use a bookmark I got as a kid. It's got my name on it, with the meaning. It's plastic covered, but the plastic is falling off in places and the tassel at the top long ago fell off. Yet I can't use anything else. Anything else is not the same at all.

    Of course, this is the guy who has to read my favorite book in the original edition I read it in. Any other edition isn't the same book. I'm weird. What can I say?

    (And I already have the book, so please don't enter me in the contest.)

  27. I too use bookmarks and collect them too. One time at the library I opened an older book that hadn't been checkout in years and found an old photo. I couldn't believe that my son's friend mother was tucked in the book.It dated from many years before. I returned the picture to Sandy and tears formed. Lucky I was an old timer and knew who it was and the middle aged kids were still friends. RUTH NIXON ruthenixon@sbcglobal.net

  28. Hi Leslie! So great to see you here, and I'm asking Santa for your book in my stocking:-)

    I have an accidental bookmark collection, too, mostly stuck in mugs on different desks. Bookstores where I've signed--many, alas, no longer with us, and those from writer friends.

    For a while I had a great collection of "book jewelry" bookmarks, my favorites ever. They were double elastic bands (the coated kind) with "jewels" on either end. There were many pretty beads and stones and charms, and I'd choose the bookmark that seemed most appropriate to the book. But, then came a cat who loved to eat the elastic, and the ones that didn't get eaten stretched, and now the "jewels" languish in a glass jar... I'm going to have to track down the artist and see if she's still making them...

    And, um, blush, I admit not only to using scraps of paper, but also to occasionally dog-earing. But I must dog-ear very gently because I can never tell afterwards. (And never on a borrowed book!)

  29. Barbara, that works -- as long as you don't do as I apparently did, and use a leaf! (After a few years, by golly, they crumble!)

    Laura, I'm thinking Churchill may be the most-quoted man of the 20th century!

    Mark, what amazes me is that you still have that bookmark! I remember seeing racks of them when I was a kid, but my name was always in with other boys' names and decorated accordingly -- we can talk about the evolution of names another time!

    Ruth, what an amazing story -- I can picture you both all teary!

  30. Hallie, that's a lovely image -- a reader bringing you a well-loved copy. I think I'd get weepy. (Now we see why Susan ends up using tissues to mark her place!)

    Blogger has apparently decided I'm commenting too much, and it's giving me those pictures to look at. Pooh, Blogger, pooh. How do I know if that's a cactus or a cauliflower?

  31. If I get a book with a bookmark then I use it. Never dog-ear but often fall asleep reading and the book ends up with a wrinkled page or on the floor. We have a HUGH annual book sale for Crimefighter charities I pass on my bookmarks, tote bags, books etc.

  32. Deborah, those sound lovely. But a glass jar of the orphaned beads won't really do the trick, will it?

    There are -- shudders -- readers who dog-ear and even copyedit library books. I have seen the evidence with mine own eyes.

  33. Like many others here, I often pick up an old book and find a bookmark there. I have a beautiful cloisonne bookmark in my copy of "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I leave it there because I pick up that book so often. But usually they are from a bookstore or author or a receipt from when I purchased the book. It is so much fun to pick up an old book and find a bookmark, receipt, greeting card, photo, etc that you have forgotten about.

    This was a great post, Leslie. I'll look forward to your book.

  34. Here's the link to the bookmarks I mentioned, which are called Literati. Isn't that fun? https://www.facebook.com/LiteratiGifts/?fref=ts&hc_location=ufi

  35. Nice post, Leslie, and such a fun way to mark the launch of your newest book. I wish you much luck with Guilty as Cinnamon - it's on my list!

    I love finding indicia of past readers in used books and library books. I'm sure when I donate books to my local library (which I do on a semi-regular basis both to support them and keep from having to buy more bookshelves) I know I never manage to cull out all of the bookmarks (formal and informal) from between the pages.

    I think of them as secret messages from one reader to another. I read this page, too, and it delighted/intrigued/terrified me . . .

  36. Secret messages, Brenda -- love that! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Bev, thanks. Sounds like a worthy bookmark for a beloved book -- and cloisonne makes my heart leap a teeny bit! (Not enough for medical attention, thank goodness!)

  37. OOh, Deb, thanks for starting a new addiction! Here's a link to more pictures of the Literati Elastic Bookmarks. http://literatigifts.com/collections/literati-elastic-bookmarks There's even one with a cat on it, to amuse the little darlings!

  38. What a treasure trove you found!
    Marvelous stuff!

  39. Leslie, as long as the cats don't eat them:-)

  40. Leslie, I love collecting bookmarks, and reading about your discovery of old bookmarks and their history was so much fun. In going through lots of stuff while my house was being redone this past year, I've come across a few bookmarks of my two children when they were children, and those are nice to have recovered. I'm also considerate of where I store my bookmarks, having several special jars or containers in which they reside. Of course, the puzzle to me has always been that with all of the bookmarks I have, I find myself marking my place with a clothes tag, or receipt, or candy wrapper, or even a tissue (you are not alone, Susan). I keep meaning to fix a small container of bookmarks by my reading chair and by the bed. I confess that I have been known to dogear a page or two in a book, not often, and not every in a borrowed book, although I can't think the last time I borrowed a book. To avoid dogearring, I keep a good supply of the small post-it tabs, and I am an ardent user of those to mark anything from a character description to an important moment in the plot to a line I want to remember. My first enthusiastic author reaction to my use of the post-it tabs was from Jamie Ford, where I had marked quite a few places in his book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Jamie insisted on a close-up picture of the book and its tabs. Of course, I was thrilled.

    Congratulations on your new book, Leslie, and I'm sure it will meet with great success, as your stories have preceding it. What a fun series with the different spices!

  41. Ah, yes, Deb, that's always the problem. I can still picture Autumn the Cat playing with the rubber band on a ms. sitting on the floor. Her claws got stuck and she dragged that thing a good 12 feet, trying to shake it loose. I was almost laughing too hard to rescue her!

    Kathy, sounds like you are well-supplied -- and the ones your kids made? Priceless! I loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet -- I sort of think of Henry as the invisible grandfather of young Reed in the Spice Shop books -- and I can easily imagine how wonderful Jamie Ford must have felt, seeing all your post-its! A shared thrill.

  42. I always use a bookmark. I hate to see a beat up book. I have a box with bookmarks I've saved from years ago when they actually gave them away at the bookstore. Now I always look for unique ones when I'm at the bookstore. Miss the days when they had the free ones at the bookstore.

  43. My husband uses a dollar bill as a bookmark--not sure what Freud would think of that! As for me, I collect bookmarks at writer/reader events. I picked up many at Left Coast Crime in 2014 and intend to do the same next February. At Sisters in Crime meetings, bookmarks are also handed out by authors with new books. Other favorites of mine are those picturing the big cats of Shambala, Tippi Hedren's ROAR Foundation compound (we are supporters), not to mention some laminated abstracts created by a former colleague. Love them all!

  44. Margie, a dollar bill -- how funny! See you at Left Coast Crime next February -- I'm already craving the warmth!

    Dianne, your bookmarks are in the mail. One of the cutest bookstore bookmarks on my "clothesline" is from Annie Blooms in Portland, where Lisa Alber and I interviewed each other just before Left Coast Crime last March, featuring the store cat, Molly Bloom, peeking over the top of a book!

  45. I have a ton of bookmarks, mostly freebies. Some are gifts from my mother-in-law when she used to travel. Many are included with authors' books; I enjoy those. Good advertising too! I have a bookmark-shaped map of Culloden battlefield that I use as a bookmark. Love that one. Also postcards. Library checkout slips. Grocery lists. But my favorites are usually ones authors have made up and give out.

  46. I have a lot of bookmarks, but I certainly will use whatever is handy! Every night I read to my
    grandson before bed, right now I am on the third Harry Potter book using a small tag torn out of
    a T-shirt for a bookmark! Whatever works!

  47. I love bookmarks and have a varied collection of them (one from a long gone bookstore in Napa, CA, an old Borders one from a store in Atlanta, many wonderful author bookmarks, and my favorite, a Gone with the Wind commemorative one from a long time friend.) I also enjoy collecting new bookmarks from events such as the annual Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, GA. But the bookmarks do belong in books and the more of those the better!

  48. I love bookmarks and have a pretty decent collection. (I'm currently in the process of moving and packing up my desk, I had at least a whole handful to put in one box and those were just the ones I could find at the time.) I tend to pick new ones up anywhere I can, but a lot of my favorites are from old school book fairs so they really can be a blast from the past to look through. Sad thing is, when it comes to day to day, they don't see a lot of use. Typically I end up just slipping a held book slip from the library in to hold my place. Guess I need to put more thought into maybe displaying them rather than just stashing them in the dark drawer of my desk.


  49. Coming in late, but wanted to say congratulations to Leslie on the new books - you always have such funny titles! I share the deep revulsion of some commenters to dog-earing book pages. It feels so disrespectful. I love bookmarks, but don't think I can touch all the special ones you and everyone else have mentioned. I'll have to start my own collection!

  50. Pat, bookmarks as travel souvenirs -- how excellent!

    Rebecca, I'm laughing out loud at the t-shirt tag as bookmark. Somehow, it's fitting (sorry) for Harry Potter -- I keep thinking of the obnoxious house elf who attached himself to Harry after being given a sock!

    Karlene, the commemorative GWW bookmark sounds like a treasure. But you're right: they belong in books. (My fave is in Eliz George's Just One Act at the moment!)

  51. Meg, I'll confess, I sometimes use those library slips, too -- but they're handy for writing notes for one of my own books, prompted by something I read! Can't do that with one of Deb's lovely jeweled elastic bookmarks...

    Thanks, Susan! All the wonderful comments today show what infinite variety there is, and how no serious reader can ever have enough bookmarks, those signs not just of where we stopped reading, but of so many times, places, and people in our lives.

    Thanks to the Reds, esp Susan and Hallie, for hosting me today! See you on the page!

  52. I love bookmarks. I use them and also collect them. I have nice metal ones with favorite quotes on them and lots of bookmarks I've received from some of my favorite authors. Because I could never dog-ear a page, I've been known to use a piece of papertowel or a tissue in a pinch.

  53. I love bookmarks, but dont collect them. Although I have a ton of them. For a while I used a dollar bill I found somewhere as my bookmark. And I had one made with the photo of my service dog/partner that passed, but have yet to use it. I love looking at them and can see where fitting the right one with the right book could be pretty interesting. But I am just too lazy, lol.

  54. Oh, Kay, that service dog bookmark must be a special memory -- and if that had been my dog, the memory might be a little too tender to use the bookmark.

    Chris, why is it that when we need one, the stack of lovely bookmarks is in another room, or just a hair out of reach?!

    What fun it's been to discover that we love our bookmarks and the memories they evoke nearly as much as we love the books!

  55. LOVE this! Sorry to be so late--we've had a bit of a glitch in the matrix at our house over the past two days, but all is well now.

    And HURRAY, Leslie--you are completely fabulous.

  56. I am always excited when I get bookmarks from authors to pass out and share with others. It means I can talk books with new people. I have quite a collection, from simple to elaborate. I always choose a new favorite. And I do my best NOT to get them wrinkled or mangled.
    Part of the reason I will never give up my print books is my love of bookmarks.

  57. Dogsmom, you are in great company!

    And Hank, xoxo, as always.

  58. I have always used bobby pins as bookmarks. On the NYC subway, people used to tell me it was such a wonderful idea. They stay where you put them, for the most part, they don't fall out while you are reading, and though utilitarian and not pretty, they work really well!

    That said, my other bookmarks are in a special small drawer in my desk, ready for the nostalgic memories they evoke whenever I want to travel down that path.

    This is such a great post!

  59. I have so many bookmarks. Mt favorite is my Mr squiggles one that my mom got me when I was first learning to read. I think I had it in about 3 or 4 colors. Over the years I have misplaced all but one. Which is now kept in my keepsake box. I still use ones from my childhood and also the ones I've bought as I got older. I love them.