booksI opened an old children’s book of mine, my eyes lingered on the golden handwriting, it was dedicated to me by my grandparents as I knew everything about fairies and elves. I smiled, I did not in the slightest remember the book and even less that it had been a present by my grandparents.

How often do I forget who gifted me a book? Sometimes this doubt installs itself quicker than I’d like. Now 4 weeks after Christmas, do I still know who gave me what book? The truth be told, no I don’t. For some books I am not even sure if they are for S or for myself, so who gave them to us exactly makes it even harder. Especially on occasions such as Christmas  and birthdays one can sometimes receive piles of books, and by the end of the day we no longer know who gave us which book. Do you know who gave you which book? Probably not, unless…

Unless you have a little dedication inside, or have a pen or pencil handy upon unwrapping to jot down the origin of the present. There are so many books that I read months or even years after I received them, but I have no idea who I should say thank you to for such a nice read. I surely have not bought all of the books myself. I once opened a box and inside was a book that said nothing to me, it was as though I had never seen it (meaning that I probably forgot about it and never read it), I opened the front cover and found a few words indication that the book was for me, a present for a Christmas long gone and who gave it to me. Now, when I read this book, I will be able to pick up the phone and say: “thank you for the book you gave me 5 years ago, I read and really enjoyed it.” Chances are that the person who gave it to you does not remember either, but being thanked for a present however far in the past it lays is always a nice thing.

Over the holidays I talked to my grandfather, someone who loves writing a little dedication, about this habit. He told me how he received a call from someone saying that they had found a book that my grandparents had given to my uncle when he was a child. It was a long forgotten gift and no one recalled that it had be lend. The dedication in the book reestablished a contact that had long been asleep and brought back memories of a different time. Another book he mentioned to me was one that my great-grandfather had given to my great-grandmother, a collection of fairytales to read to the grandkids. Without his sweet words of love no one would have known decades later how important the book must have been.

Now, if the author has signed the book or you are planning to have it signed by the author, then it might be best not to add your own dedication to it. And of course with ebooks it might be a bit hard to add a personal note…

There is not only dedicating the books you give. Many people develop the habit of writing down that the book belongs to them and even when they bought it. I learnt from Tara Paray’s guest post for Ula’s Monday Inspirations that she writes down the dates of when she reads her books. The latest moment in time when your name shall make it’s way into a book is when you are about to lend it to someone.

Now, when I give a book, I make sure to write inside the occasion, the reason (like this book always makes me think of you, this is little one’s favourite book, a read for cold nights etc.) and the person.

Do you sometimes wish you knew who gave you a book? Do you write a few words inside the books you gift?


© Solveig Werner 2016. All rights reserved.

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29 thoughts on “The Other Writing In Books

    1. haha, well my grandfather also told me with gleaming eyes of how he had ordered a book and it came signed by the author, what a present surprise that was. 🙂
      In order to get there I have to continue writing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I do wish I knew. My boys have received many books as gifts, but only a couple have any inscription. There’s one art/ABC book in particular that Littler loves. I wish I could remember with whom to share his love of the book!

    When I’ve received them via Amazon, I’ve taped in whatever gift note was included. I just found one such note in The Kissing Hand yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realised lately how much I appreciate knowing who gave me a book. This dawned on me even more on Christmas as at the end of the day I no longer recalled what books I had received by whom…
      My sister received a book some time ago that my grandfather had given to my grandmother in their youth (with some sweet words to remember the moment), as she has passed away he added a few lines under the original ones and gave it to my sister.

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  2. What a great idea!! I have seen that done a few times but never think to do it myself. I will- especially for good books for First Grandbaby. I also really like the idea of writing the date inside the book for when I read it. I should do that!!

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    1. It is, it is a great thing to do I think. I never thought about writing the dates a book was read inside, but now that I read Tara’s story I think that it might be a good plan 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Books are mostly found in the house library with bookplate, etc. Otherwise, I hate people writing in my books unless I ask for a dedication by the author. I usually remember who gave me what and when or when I bought what. But I add my bookplate, which comprises a blank for the date. I may add something else but usually the bookplate provides for everything.

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    1. As I told Judith, I have so far never heard of bookplates. I don’t like writing in books when it is to be found on the pages of text.

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      1. In fact, I have a bookplate with the crest of my family and its motto and the space for my name if I wish to add it. Comes from the time when it was “common” to have house libraries and bounded volumes, well before the paperbacks! 🙂

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  4. This is a beautiful post, Solveig. I can’t say that I ever put any notes inside of books, but I’m not sure that a lot of books I give have that much meaning. A lot of times they are simply Christmas or birthday presents and books which I think the person might like.

    Though, I do remember quite a few books from when I was a child that were signed by whomever gave them to me. At that age, I think it’s important. A lot of the books we receive as children are from relatives whom we may not see later in life and having something to hold onto to remind us of them is sometimes more important than the book itself.

    Still, I think it might be a nice touch to write in a book like we would a card, to remind the reader whom it came from and why, perhaps with a small message of well wishes. This is a great way to always remind people that we care about them. ^.^ I think it’s a great idea! I hope to adopt this in the future!

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    1. I must say that with a little child at home, cards are no longer safe in my books, they are taken out. I tend to leave my bookmarks in the books. They are sometimes photos, bookmarks, postcards, flyers, or a card by someone who gave me the book, but now I sometimes come across a card or a bookmark deprived of its home, and have no idea where it belongs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I buy a lot of old used books, and I love seeing these dedications. Yeah, it diminishes the value of the book, blah blah blah who cares? To see, especially in a children’s book, that it was gifted by Grandma in 1925…that’s just awesome.

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    1. wow that definitely sounds great! My grandfather said that as books don’t fetch much anymore (he is a historian and has a HUGE collection of books) there is nothing wrong with writing a few words for the recipient of the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always write in books I give away as presents be if nothing is written in ones I receive as gifts I’ll make a little note. Also whe I buy books for myself I’ll write my name, where and when I bought it and the occasion. Always lovely to look back on. Another story before to recall before I even open the book to read again.

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    1. Thank you Annika for your lovely comment. I have not yet taken to the habit of writing down when and where I bought a book, but I think it will happen in the future.

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  7. When I was a child we literally had a library. My great grandfather had been a lawyer and a judge so we had his law books. Plus, we have considerable history in the family, so we have these books. I actually have a book that was published in the 1700s. I LOVE books, but the majority of my books I inherited from my parents.

    You made a great point though… WHERE did we come upon our books. Learning who gave us our books is valuable and fun memories.

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    1. Many objects have a history, books are just one type for which it is fairly easy to let us know where they came from.
      What is the book from the 1700s about?
      Thanks for your comment Gwynn, Solveig

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  8. Thanks for the shout out! I love knowing when I read a book and I, too, like inscriptions. It’s fun, too, if you buy a book at a library sale and there’s one in there. I imagine who the people were — who gave the book and who got the book. Good fodder for a story there. 🙂 ~Tara

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    1. You are welcome. Your post gave me the idea, and giving a shout out to a fellow blogger is always a good thing to do in my ‘book’ 🙂
      Maybe you can use those inscriptions in the books as prompts?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing beats the signature of the author.
      I think that when we gift a book with a little inscription, then it might be cherished a bit more, at least it will less likely find itself on a pile of books the person no longer wants to keep.

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  9. I really love opening my grandson’s books that have been passed down for four generations now. The inside cover has my grandmother’s (his great great grandmother’s) Christmas or birthday note to me when I was a little girl. This is a lovely post. Thank you. 🙂

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  10. I have books from my grandparents in which they wrote a small message – these books now belong to my daughter, but the messages make me happy whenever I see them. It’s a nice thing to do.
    And now that I’ve written my own books, I’m very happy to write inside them for friends and family (and anyone else!)

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    1. I guess that nothing beats dedicating a book when we are the author of them 🙂
      The books I have from my grandparents’ are still with my parents but I love opening them and finding a small message from the past.

      Liked by 1 person

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