This post originally appeared on the blog Stepping Away From the Edge July 19, 2022.

This summer, Carole is hosting a Summer Reading program . . . to bring back that read-what-you-love, childish-pleasure “thing” to our reading. There’s no particular structure to Carole’s program (which is perfect for my personal reading style), just plenty of thinking – and talking – about reading.

For me, Carole’s focus on reading has got my own gears moving, considering what I like best about books. Carole has inspired me to . . . unpack my own library.

cross stitch bookmark featuring small quilt square design in pages of book

I’m not picky about the format of books I read. I like “book-books” (what I call traditional, turn-the-pages books), and I like books on a reader (I have an iPad Mini, so I generally use that), and I like listening to books, too. They all work for me! I usually pick up library books in book-book form. If I’m going to buy a book, I generally do that electronically (I have a lot of shelf space, sure, but I’m not interested in amassing a huge collection of fiction). I do have an Audible subscription, so I can keep those audiobooks coming (and Tom prefers audiobooks, so I look for books we can share).

When I do purchase a book to keep, it nearly always falls into one of four categories: gardening books, cookbooks, art books . . . and poetry. Those are the kinds of books I like to grab off the shelf now and then . . . and read in willy-nilly fashion: just picking it up, opening it, and reading a bit whereever I land. (I usually find the just-right passage when I do that. It’s an amazing thing.)

I take notes while I read books, and – unless it’s a library book – I have no problem underlining, highlighting, or jotting notes right on the pages. I have books just jammed with post-it-notes and torn-paper bits marking favorite passages or other things I want to find later, and I really love the electronic notetaking/highlighting options that come with e-readers. When I read library books, I mark them with post-it-notes as I read, and I jot down notes on my phone. When I finish a book, I compile my notes-and-quotes in Google docs before I write my reviews, which I share on Goodreads. (This helps me cement the books in my mind a little better, and gives me a place where I can easily go back and remind myself about what I liked. . . or didn’t.) If that all sounds overly academic, rest assured . . . I don’t take many notes on most books I read, but I do usually make a list of characters at the very least. My note-jotting is solely for my own purposes — to help me remember the books I read (some books lend themselves to note-taking and quote-saving; some . . . do not).

Sometimes I think I like reading book-books so much because I enjoy a deep, visceral pleasure in turning pages and using bookmarks! I’m pretty sure that taps deeply into my childhood love of reading and books. While I will use pretty much anything within easy reach as a bookmark (torn paper, envelopes, napkins, other books. . . ), I much prefer actual, REAL bookmarks to mark my place.

bookmarks of various designs spread out on a desk

This is just a small smattering of bookmarks I regularly use. There are promotional booksmarks from local bookstores (I have tons of these), but some are more special; usually bookmarks I’ve received from friends. The cross-stitch bookmark in the first photo? Dee sent me that one, and it’s my go-to bookmark right now. (Thanks again, Dee!) And that “collection” photo above? The Buddha is from Margene, the flowers are from Sarah, and the lovely watercolor is from Vicki (it’s from her husband’s New Island collection). It’s like . . . reading with friends . . . whenever I mark my pages with these bookmarks.

Just for fun, here’s a favorite classic bookmark . . .

bookmark featuring young child's drawing of a face

Apparently, that is me . . . preserved forever on a pre-school Mother’s Day gift from Erin in 1993. I smile every time I use it in one of my books.

red bookmark with black tassel on a book

Sometimes I like bookmarks-as-inspiration. Like this one . . . that I’m currently using in my planner to mark my week. I like the message, and find it to be a good reminder for myself several times a day, whenever I check in with my daily to-do list.

How about YOU?

What are your reading preferences when it comes to books? How do you remember what you read — or is that not really important to you at all? And . . . bookmarks? Yes or no!