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:

To Becky,

I could not have written this book without your wise guidance and insights.

With love,

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:

To George,

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?