Throughout February, I tend to pull out one of my favorite collections: book dedications. To me, they represent a powerful expression of love, gratitude, humor and humility.
Authors become poets as they carefully select the words, the phrase, the fonts and, sometimes, even the spacing to convey emotional volumes in a thimble. (One of my favorite length exceptions is the dedication page for A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket).
Covers are often magical, but book dedications have captured my attention for as long as I could read independently.
This story is dedicated to my sons,
Bryan and Eric,
And to children of all ages who love turtles
And rocks and rivers and other living things –
Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
for Tracey and Beck
because they listened first
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
In elementary school, when I fancied myself a writer I declared to my first (and probably the second, third and fourth) crush, “I’ll dedicate my first book to you.”
Book dedications can be the penultimate declaration of love.
my idea of beautiful
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
This is for Joe Hill King, who shines on.
The Shining by Stephen King
To my guys, Sam, Jax, Stevo, John
And Tyler Lamott, and Mason Reid.
Doomed without you.
Small Victories by Anne Lamott
Dedications are sometimes irreverent; sometimes they are a permanent jab.
For example, poet e.e. cummings created a poem in the shape of an urn with the names of the 14 publishers who had rejected his book of poems now printed and titled “No Thanks.”
The adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has been beaten to a dusty cliché long before I was born. Unfortunately, it lives on in the form of cautionary advice to seek more than first impressions in every person or experience that unfolds in your life.
The advice is sound, but the book–and-cover form of delivery numbs the message.
I’m playing with an alternate adage.
Collectively, I think we should tweak it and then blast it out on social media, hope it goes viral and spreads to the lips of every parent who needs the right words to convey this message: “Don’t read a book without dedication.”
Think about it.
Just as “Don’t judge a book by its cover” offers warning about coasting on first impressions, “Don’t read a book without dedication” points to the core of most success. The new adage (that I hope you will help me fine tune via firstname.lastname@example.org) suggests that we shouldn’t do anything without dedication; likewise, we should not spend too much time with others who lack dedication.
After noticing this issue’s awesome cover, know that Hanover Magazine is dedicated to you by a dedicated staff.
Thanks for sharing your time with us.
Lisa Moody Breslin