I 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.