Y’all know me—I raid thrift stores on a regular basis for books, to the point that I come to basically know their inventory off-hand. (It really doesn’t help that the one with the lowest prices on books is right next to my favorite Italian restaurant in my hometown.) But this often means that I run across handwritten dedications in books, which alternately make me sad or laugh out loud. Sad because these books were given as heartfelt gifts—hence the dedication—and hilarious because, well, sometimes you just know why the book was donated. To this day, I regret not buying the book given to an bookish aunt by a niece with a dedication proclaiming her appreciation for her aunt giving her a love of reading… ruined by the misspelling of the possessive “their” as “they’re”. Ouch.
Dedications are so personal, and I’m not just talking about the handwritten kind. Because I hate writing in books so very much, I think I’ve only dedicated one book in my entire life—an omnibus of His Dark Materials, given to a friend in high school. Naturally, handwritten ones intricately mark a book as part of your personal history; I cringe every time I stumble across a copy of Law 101 dedicated to me by my parents. Law was a terrible and kind of self-loathing idea of mine, so I don’t like to be reminded of it. But it’s dedicated; what can I do but keep it? And in much the same way, so are printed dedications provided by the authors. I remember being enormously touched when J. K. Rowling dedicated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to the reader; the same thing happened when Neil Gaiman signed my copy of Anansi Boys and underlined (as he did for everyone who got that novel signed) the dedication to the reader. I’m tearing up just thinking about it! I think it’s time to revisit Harry Potter, no matter my concerns with the audiobook narrator. (Nothing against Jim Dale, of course, but Stephen Fry. I want to be him when I grow up.)
But otherwise—unless they’re handwritten and/or aimed at me (however broad the target!)—I don’t particularly pay attention to dedications, beyond acknowledging them with a smile. I do love it when they’re dedicated to parents and that one family member who encouraged the love of reading and writing. That’s probably because I hope to be that for my brother’s children. (I’ve picked out the reading regime already. It involves Madeline and The Hobbit.) Still, they’re a sweet part of the reading and writing experience, allowing you a little glimpse into the author’s—or the giftgiver’s—mind and who they value.
This week has been nice and quiet. I read Twenty Years After, Avatar:The Last Airbender—The Lost Adventures, and started on both The Hero with a Thousand Faces and A Tailor-Made Bride. I also landed my literary agency internship! I’ve been given my first manuscript to read and everything. Magnificent! Today, however, I shall be at RenFest—it’s half off tickets, and I probably shan’t be back again this season, so it better be fantastic.
Suvudu is giving away 50 ARCS of Grant Morrison’s Supergods until tomorrow, so hustle! The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!
What do you make of dedications?