A couple of weekends ago, my family and I spent some time at our favorite thrift stores. We all love browsing for books.
I chose a stack of books two feet high —including Guy Kawasaki’s Rules for Revolutionaries— for less than the price of one new book.
When I got home, I discovered that Kawasaki had autographed the book, using his signature at the time — “Kick Butt.”
I often share books with others when I’m done, but I can’t imagine ever passing along any of the books I’ve gotten recently from author friends: the ones they took time to personally sign for me.
When an author (especially one I know personally), takes time to autograph my book, it becomes more than a book; it’s a keepsake.
The attachment I feel toward autographed books reminds me of an old tradition in my family.
My grandfather enjoyed giving books to which he would add a special inscription. In his familiar, loopy script, he would write, to the book’s intended recipient, a note like this:
I could not have written this book without your wise guidance and insights.
And then he would sign the AUTHOR’S name.
This tradition held so tightly that even though my grandfather has been gone for nearly a decade, my siblings, my mom, or I will still occasionally do the same: include pretend and effusive autographs in the books we give to each other as gifts.
I imagine a friend of my mother’s, unaware, borrowing a book and discovering that Julia Child credits my mother with her success. Or that Stephen King counts her among his close personal friends.
I picture my my mom setting the record straight: “Oh, no, that was my father. Just a joke. I don’t really know Julia Child.”
This tradition, to me, is an indicator of what we value as a family.
We are bibliophiles and bookworms.
I think it would make my grandfather smile to see the collection of books on my shelf, truly signed by the authors. Or to see my photos from a conference this spring, when I met Ken Blanchard and Jim Kouzes. If he were alive, I would certainly ask those friends to inscribe a book for him:
Whose loving influence has made a difference in so many lives.
He could put it on a shelf with all his other “autographed” books.
Tell me something! Do you enjoy receiving a book autographed by the author? What family traditions show your family’s values?
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Wow! I couldn’t agree more. Like you,I love to share books with friends. However, I never share any that have been personally signed by the author.
Also, I write very personal notes to people in books. I hope they would be influenced and cherish the book and the note.
Hi, Becky – another good post.
I have a few books signed by the authors and would not part with them. However, I can’t say I really go out of my way to get books autographed. I can remember several occasions when I bought a book from the author and did not ask for an inscription.
Not sure why, but now you’ve got me thinking about the basis for that. I do believe that a personal note or even a person’s name written in an actual book is valuable, but I do not facilitate creating this value. Hmmm . . .
My wife is really good about writing personal notes in books for our children, grandchildren, and friends. This is definitely a family tradition on her side, since we have books that are over a hundred years old with inscriptions from her ancestors on the inside. I have a deep respect for this, but was not raised with the expectation or the practice.
Your grandfather sounds like a hoot:)
As an author I love to sign books and get signed books. Often times if the person asking me to sign their book has a good sense of humor I will inscribe it: ” To ——, the person who taught me everything I know!” We both get a big smile out of that. By the way, very interesting that all of the comments to this post so far are from people named “John.”
Oh, how fun! I just love your grandfather’s sense of humor!
We’re a book family too. When my kids were growing up (well, actually, I still have a 10-year-old at home still doing that whole “growing up” thing) they knew they would get a stack of books at Christmas. And for their birthday. And sometimes just because. And now my son is a writer and an editor … how fun is that?
Another family tradition: On birthdays, we share favorite memories of the birthday person. It is such a highlight to sit around the table, eat cake and ice cream and hear all the “I remember when” stories.