Inside the cover

In my never-ending search for new ways to procrastinate, I’ve recently spent hours poring over both the printed and handwritten dedications in the first few pages of books. I love the sentiments that they reveal: even in serious academic books, they represent a moment when the author lets their guard down and reveals the emotional dimension of their hard work. And the handwritten notes which you sometimes come across are a prime opportunity to daydream about the stories of those who wrote them, and those who received the books as gifts. Here are some of the dedications I’ve come across in libraries and on the bookshelves in my own home, that have made me smile.

This one seemed a good way to start: New Selected Poems, 1984- 2004 by Carol Ann Duffy. This was a present from my Dad a couple of Christmasses ago, and he included a note with words to live by. Of late my Dad has subscribed to the school of thought that gasps in horror at the thought of actually writing in a book, and this note was tucked into the front cover instead. (See evidence of his younger and more reckless self writing in a book below! *gasp*)


‘I have never found any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve.’ Baron de Montesquieu. With love to Bex from Dad at Christmas 2012

I came across this beautifully romantic dedication in a sociology book I was reading for my thesis research: Hidden Rhythms by Eviatar Zerubavel. I think it speaks for itself.


To Noga, my starlight

Next, a discovery I made in my Dad’s study: Painting from A to Z by James Lawrance, a book which belonged to his Dad, and was given to him during his apprenticeship as a Painter and Decorator in the 1950s. My grandfather, who I never met, has written his name and the date in the front cover, in a smudgy blue ink. I love this little piece of family history, and it’s also a pretty comprehensive guide to all things decorating! Polychrome staining, anyone?

A to Z


J Daley, 20/6/56

The next book was on the bookshelf in my room, but it actually belongs to my Mum, and is one of her favourites: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. First, can we all please appreciate the fabulous 1980’s cover art, an image from the 1984 film of the same name. This book was a gift from my Dad to my Mum on what would have been their first wedding anniversary in 1988. They still watch the film together every so often- awwww.



To Heather, With all my love, from Joe x Happy Anniversary 1988

And an amusing one to finish: The Procrastination Equation by Dr Piers Steel. In an effort to become more focussed before exams I got this out of my college library, and opened the front cover to discover that the irony of having this book available in a library where people are meant to be working on other things had not escaped those before me.



Explore more weird, wonderful and touching things found in books herehere and here.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.


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