What’s the coolest thing you’ve found in a book? Mailbox Monday

Dear Reader:

Keweenaw News

We got a bunch of new snow last week that has created great cross country ski conditions.  Gus (my golden retriever) and I were out on some loops this morning with my friend Jo and her dog, Mundy.  A great time was had by all!  Gus and I skied two hours yesterday, doing some of the Ruby (!) Marsh loops we don’t get to that often and were also out on Saturday skiing Swedetown Creek Gorge.  We encountered about 15 people Saturday and Sunday – that’s a bit high for these trails, but it was a weekend.  Lots of folks out with dogs – came around a corner into four loose dogs of various sizes and had trouble extracting Gus from their midst – he was off-leash too and loves to play with new dogs!  This morning we encountered a dog sledder with a team of 4-6 huskies well-trained to ignore Gus and Mundy who tried, with no success, enticing them to play.



I’ve been nursing my 15 year old beagle, Gilbert, who has a brain tumor (diagnosed about 1.5 weeks ago) – he is on prednisone which is shrinking the tumor and temporarily reducing the neurological problems, but his appetite, previously quite energetically infinite and always at the ready (I’ve never seen a more food-oriented dog), is pretty lousy – he’s only eating one or two types of fairly healthy dog biscuits and various forms of dehydrated and processed meat products (he will also eat cooked steak).  He turns around and runs from dog food (maybe he always wanted to do this, but didn’t think he could get away with it…).  He’s ancient, so his decline is not unexpected, but grieving for a terminal pet, nursing them, watching them through bad days (and wondering if he is going to pull out of it or should be euthanized soon) is time-consuming and draining.  I’ve been reading a fair amount, but have neglected this blog for a week, so thanks for bearing with me!  And, by the way, he is doing well now, for the moment.

Surprise! And Mailbox Monday

My wonderful Aunt Arline surprised me with the book Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages by Michael Popek last week.  So, this seemed like a good opportunity to join the book blogger Mailbox Monday meme hosted by At Home With Books this month.  The idea is that you put up a post describing the books that came to you in the past week (via mailbox or other means).


I opened my mailbox and there was an Amazon box in there – clearly a book, but I didn’t remember ordering one…  I opened the box and saw the book, but didn’t remember ordering it….  So, I’m racking my brains when I happen to notice the note from my aunt in there on the order sheet.  Cool!  (remember, I made the rule gifts don’t count toward my 20 books this year)

So, I flipped open the book and started paging through it – as the name suggests, it contains pages and pages of pictures of books bought by the Popek book business and the odd little ephemera they yielded.  Hair nets, postcards, valentines, tickets, lists, recipes, poems, letters… etc. etc.

Postcard found in The Great Gatsby (from Forgotten Bookmarks by Michael Popek)

Note Found in The Sinking of the Titanic (from Forgotten Booksmarks by Michael Popek)

I was paging through, scanning things randomly when I saw a Gilbertsville New York family name (Dibble) on one of the documents.  As I have talked about before, I grew up in Gilbertsville, a tiny village of 500 people (in the 60’s and 70’s) now about 300 people due to the decline in the dairy industry and upstate New York manufacturing.  There were several families of Dibbles in town then – it is an unusual name.  So, I looked on the back of the book to see where the author was from and he turned out to be from Oneonta, about 30 minutes from Gilbertsville.  His business is Popek’s Used and Rare Books and you can buy books directly from them via the website.  Michael started putting up pictures of the odd things he found in books online for his friends and ended up creating a website Forgotten Bookmarks (the latest is a yellow fourth place award ribbon – oh, how I remember my ribbons from the Otsego County Fair!) and a Facebook page Forgotten Bookmarks.  If you want to, you can go to his facebook page on a Friday and find his new giveaway post – if you “like” it or comment on it, you are entered to win the giveaway – the ones I’ve seen are awfully generous, older, multi-book series.

So, I paged through all of the books looking at the cool things he has found, reading the notes and letters, noting which books there were in (which is sometimes quite a poignant juxtaposition) and I saw lots of locations from right around where I grew up (such as Norwich, the Chenango County Hospital, Hartwick, New Berlin etc).  Since a lot of the books are older, I’m guessing that someone purchased them from, perhaps, estate sales around the northern Catskills region that these communities are in and/or people probably bring in boxes of books from their parents’ and grandparents’ attics and garages.  Lots of the books are from early in the 19th Century.

Sometime soon, I plan to contact Michael and let him know about our geographical connection and how much I enjoyed his book.  It is really interesting to see those old books, some classics, some very practical books, and the things, weird and wonderful, they’ve surprisingly housed.  Check out the book and the website – I think you’ll get a kick out of the random merging of stuff and books.

So, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found in a book?  I know I’ve found some random paper things – bookmarks from independent bookstores, occasionally a newspaper article about the author added by the bookstore, a card here and there, all of it a fun and unexpected surprise.

Happy Reading, Ruby



  1. What a cool book! I’m adding it to my TBR list. I too am fascinated with the odd bits that are left in books and have found airplane/train stubs, photos, drawings and cards to name a few.

    Hope your beagle pulls through!

  2. I love the Forgotten Bookmarks site and go there for entertainment every now and then. I don’t know about strange, but I found a newspaper clipping that had parts highlighted and notes written in the margins once. And every now and then I find a book with an inscription along the lines of “I just know you’ll love this book.” Since I have found these books at used book stores I would imagine the recipient might not have liked the book so much. 🙂

    • Hi Alyce: Thanks for stopping by! I like the idea of writing a note to the future recipient…of a book you didn’t really like that much yourself. It’s obvious in hindsight, but it never occurred to me that a book at a used bookstore is likely to be a book someone else didn’t like (or didn’t love). Maybe it didn’t occur to me because I’m thinking of their book I bought and I liked – it is hard to imagine everyone not liking it… I think I’ll leave a note the next time I donate or sell a book, thanks, Ruby

  3. Aw, I’m sorry to hear your Gilbert is sick. I hope he’ll continue to feel better.

    I’ve heard about the bookmark book. I think it’s perfect for a book lover!

    • Hi Mary: Thanks for writing and for your kind thoughts! My aunt ran into it in a magazine – maybe Parade or People. I hadn’t heard of it, but I’m pleased to know that others have, all the best, Ruby

  4. Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. That is a fascinating book. I am adding it to my wish list!

    I am sorry to hear about your precious pup. I have a 13 year old beagle who has always had neuro issues and the vet suspects he has a brain tumor now. Must be common in beagles? We have just switched steroids but he is not improving at all. He can no longer stand up but he is in such wonderful spirits that it is hard to know what to do. We are spending time snuggling and loving on him right now. I’ll be thinking of you and GIlbert! I can feel your pain!

    • Hi Beth: Thanks for stopping by! Yes, that sounds like exactly the same thing with your beagle – sorry to hear that he is doing poorly. It is SUCH a hard decision, isn’t it, about when to let them go. I wish your guy well and urge you to allow yourselves to grieve when the time comes. Some people are surprised at how intense their feelings can be, but I think we can grieve as much or more for a beloved pet as for a beloved person. All the best, Ruby


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