The Sunday Salon: Dedications

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?

6 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Dedications

  1. Aw, congrats on your lit agency internship! I’ve been looking to do something like that around here, but…there just isn’t anything. So I’m jealous! Will you be posting more about your internship as it goes on?

    Oh, and about dedications: I really like them, even if they’re not dedicated to me. I have a really old copy of a book (which I haven’t read yet) which has the sweetest dedication written in it, and even though it wasn’t meant for me I still feel all gooey inside whenever I read it. I probably should actually read that book soon, haha!

    On the other hand, I have a couple of books I want to get rid of but they’ve got handwritten dedications in them to me, and I feel SO guilty for not liking them enough to want to keep. They’re currently just sitting on my shelf, staring at me accusingly. 😦

    • A little bit, I think, but I’m not quite sure how much I can say.

      Oh, I hate that! I have a handful of law books from my parents before I ran screaming from the profession, and I can’t sell them or give them away because of the dedications. Ouch.

  2. Two favorites.

    “For each true friend of Travis McGee.”

    John D. MacDonald in one of his Travis McGee novels, The Dreadful Lemon Sky

    “Since this book is a history of fantasy, it seems to me fitting that I dedicate it to the fantasy writers of tomorrow, to those men and women not yet born, whom I shall never know, whose books I shall not live to read, but whose dreams I have shared and whose visions would not be strange or alien to me.”

    Lin Carter in Imaginary Worlds

  3. Wow, have a great time at your internship and your RenFair! I need to find a good RenFair to hit up my own self — the one in Louisiana is so great I’m afraid my standards have been nudged up too high.

    What are your concerns about the audiobook narrator of Harry Potter? Can’t you get the British ones? Can that not happen?

    I’m always sad to read dedications in books that have been given away to thrift stores — but sometimes they make me smile, anyway. I have a complete works of Emily Dickinson with a dedication in it that says something like “I hope this book will help you in your spiritual journey with Christ”. Not exactly what I’d hope for out of Emily Dickinson. :p

    • The Georgia Renaissance Festival is… well, unique. Though, to be fair, I haven’t gone to any other festivals.

      I can’t access them unless I buy them from Amazon.co.uk, and then, it’s a pretty big investment.

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