Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blog Offers Peek at Book Dedications

One of the best things about buying used books, other than saving money, is the dedication scribbled just inside the cover. If you're lucky, the inscription was written by the author of the book - collector's item! If you're luckier, it was written in a moment of tenderness or humor (or spite) by the person giving the book as a gift to another, giving you a tantalizing peek into the lives of others.

Wayne Gooderham gathers some of the best of these inscriptions in his blog, bookdedications. In an article that he wrote for The Guardian, he said, "For me, the overriding emotion evoked by these inscriptions is one of pathos. All are basically records of human connections - or at least attempts at human connections - given added weight by the fact that all these books have been discovered among the shelves of second-hand book shops and for whatever reason they are no longer in the hand of the dedicees."

Browsing through bookdedications, I see some inscriptions that are quite beautiful and moving, such as the one in a copy of Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. As seen above, the inscription reads: 

From Justin to Rebecca,

With warm & tender feelings, on your birthday.

19 August 2004

After rough seas, there is calm,

for sore wounds, there is a balm,

Let me hold you in my arms

And keep you safe from harm.

Gooderham admits "there is an element of voyeurism" in savoring these book dedications. Undoubtedly, they can be very intimate. The often private nature of these inscriptions can sometimes set my mind a-whirl, my imagination conjuring up all sorts of fantastical back stories based on these dedications. But unless you were the one who wrote the dedication - or the one who received the book - you will never know the true story behind this bibliophilistic exchange. That sense of mystery, and the sweet discovery of a new read at a deeply discounted price, is what keeps me and other admirers of a well-penned inscription returning to used bookstores again and again.

To eye more amazing book inscriptions, go to Gooderham's blog at THIS LINK.

* Above images from Wayne Gooderham's bookdedications.

1 comment:

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