Long before the Internet with authors’ webpages, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, I knew quite a bit about the authors whose books I read. I knew the names of their best friends, husbands, and children. I was able to surmise when they divorce, and when they remarried. I could tell when their children got married, the birth of grandchildren, and the death of a loved one. I knew their interests and hobbies from the environment to rescuing pets, knitting or four wheeling. And many times I knew of the struggle to get published, or family disapproval of their chosen genre. I discovered all this from just opening the book and reading the dedication page.
Like many readers, I do visit my favorite authors on their various medias. I am sure if they were my friends, then I would be more interested in where to buy the best tea in Seattle or what a great bargain they got on the little black dress or the wonderful gift their husband gave them for Christmas. But since I don’t know them that well, these things aren’t always what I’m looking for, though I know some readers love it. I much prefer for them to tell me about their books. I want to know what they are working on now. Is it part of a series? When will it be published, and when will an excerpt be posted? However, I always read the dedications in their books.
Some authors wonder about even writing them, questioning if they actually are read. While I can’t speak for other readers, I never tire of reading them.
There are numerous reasons why I love to read them. One, the dedication is right there in front of me. Two, dedications are short, usually fifty words or less but they give me a vivid snapshot of the author’s life without seeming intrusive. Three, dedications help me identify with the author. Some authors that I read are very successful. They travel to Europe for month long vacations. They do research in Greece, Rome, and Ireland. They buy apartments in Paris. Now I don’t begrudge them their success, but that part of their life is a far cry from mine. Reading a dedication to a loved one crosses all social and economic barriers. Dedications are about people that matter. When I read a touching or humorous one it emphasizes our commonalities rather than our differences.
Far be it to me to tell an author what to write, because dedications are very personal. However, I do enjoy the ones that tell a little story, or give an explanation rather than just: To John or To Nancy. If only the names are given I get caught up in trying to figure out who they are, unless it’s one like Kathleen Giles Seidel’s dedication in Don’t Forget to Smile to Anne Stuart, Beverly Sommers, Deirdre Mardon and Donna Bell which is fairly self- explanatory. For example, Sharon Shinn’s Dark Moon Defender dedication is: “For Joe Because you, too, have had to fight so hard, and because you love the books,” and that touched me. I really didn’t have to know the relationship, because we all have had friends or loved ones who have faced hardship with dignity and courage.
Some dedications are so hauntingly beautiful, illuminating sadness and loss. I stand in awe of the authors’ ability to pay homage to a lost loved one. Recently I opened Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden and read: “For my sister, who, as always has gone on a step ahead, and still dances in my memory and my heart”. Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ dedication in What I Did for Love states: “In Memory of Kate Fleming/Anna Fields There aren’t enough words to fill the silence you’ve left behind. We grieve your loss and miss you more than we can ever say.”
Some authors use dedications to illustrate their sense of humor. Anne Stuart in Ruthless wrote: For my darling middle-aged editor who’s very tolerant, and my brilliant agent who’s very fierce. Julia Quinn’s dedication in Just Like Heaven reads in part: And also for Paul, even though when I went to him for medical advice to save my ailing hero, he replied, “He has to die.”
Do you read the author’s dedication page or do you feel it is a waste of paper? If you read them, do you have a special one that has touched you recently? Or one that made you laugh?
– Leigh Davis
I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.
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I always read them — you know who had the best and they were always to his wife Joan? Robert Parker.
Nora Roberts has some great ones. So does Suz Brockmann (and sometimes I recognize the names!)
I always make sure I read them. I really do read every page of the book.
I like it.
Some of my favorite dedications are the ones in the HP books, they are short but give a glimpse f Jo’s life, how it was hard and how it was also full of people who loved her and helped her.
I always read Julia Quinn’s dedications because they are always entertaining. And I definitely make sure to check out the copyright page!
I always read the dedications, my favorite author’s is Sharon Sala, there always seems to be a really true meaning and feeling behind her words
Now that you mention it, I usually glance at that too. There are some interesting surprises!
Always, always read the dedication. And, willa, I read the copyright page too because I want to see the author’s real name.
I read just about everything but the copyright page. Dedications are often very interesting. The one for _Simple Jess_ makes me weep:
For my daughter Leila
One of God’s favorites.
She will never read this book but she can recognize her name.
Shauna, I remember reading Ms. Grant’s dedication. It was very sweet.
Michele, you are so right. I wouldn’t let my Dad read it either.
Sandy C. I enjoy finding out authors’ friends or mentors from the dedicaton too. It also fun to see them joke around with each other.
Catherine and LeeB, After reading your post, I had to send the first chapter to my Kindle so I could read it. It is very touching. I did try to read Ms. Nathan, but it wasn’t available on kindle.
Maggie b. While the generic to my husband and kids is not that interesting, I still read them. That is how I know when their martial status changes. (grin)
LeeAnn, I hope your dream comes true, and you are able to use that dedication in the front of your book.
The Romantic Scientist, I will have to go back and look at some of J.D. Ward’s dedications.
Tee, yes the witty ones are fun, even if you can tell that it is an inside joke. .
Thanks everyone for your posts, making this an interesting topic. Your input is greatly appreciated
Victoria S, Farmwifetwo, and Diane, I used to give my mother a hard time about reading the end first too. If I read the end, then there is a good chance I either skim the book or don’t read it. I don’t understand it (grin) but you guys are the ones reading the book. And Victoria, I am in the same boat. I did read that one author in desperate need of the bathroom promised another author that she would dedicate her next book to her for her spot in the line. Maybe some day we will run into an author in line for the loo.
Fay, thanks for sharing the humorous dedication.
Angel in L.A., I don’t know if I have ever taken notice of a hint in the dedication. I will have to read them again after reading the book.
Anne W, what a lovely complement. Thank you. And you are right it does add a special touch to the story.
From THE KADIN by Bertrice Small:
“”To my dearest husband, George, who, having lived all these years with Cyra, Firousi, Zuleika, Sarina, and me, can tell you that having a harem isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.””
I usually read the dedication page(s); it’s nice to see an author thank the ones who have helped them through hard stages, given them some insight etc…
I also read the back of the book including the ending, first!
:) :) I’m not, the only one :)
Yes, I love reading the Authors’ dedication page on any book I read. I think it says a lot about the author. And yes, I especially like JQ’s “”and for Paul…”” ones. It’s become a running joke throughout the years, but it’s funny and charming. And recently, I read Kristan Higgins’ MY ONE AND ONLY and it had a very sweet dedication for her brother about the time he stood up for her in grade school.
Oh angel in LA, I applaud your restraint. I am an infamous back of the book reader. One of my main aggravations with the Kindle is that it makes back of the book reading more difficult than simply dog-earring your current page, flipping to the back of the book and returning to your place in the book.
I always read them first. You can sometimes get get a hint as to what is coming up, by what is said in the dedications page.
Sometimes I go to the back and read whatever is there, too. I absolutely, never read the end of a book though.
Leigh, what a wonderful blog! And several of the dedications you’ve mentioned have touched my heart as well. I always read the dedications and the acknowledgements. Like you, it gives a little personal insight into the author’s life, as well as the impact others play on the author’s life. Doesn’t take that long to read a dedication or acknowledgment, may or may not add to the reading experience between the covers but it’s there and I read it! And for me, many times it’s been an extra special touch.
Always read ’em. To me, it’s the start of a book. I even read the long ones. And LeeAnn, I’ve always wanted to SEE my name in a dedication….of course I’d need to know an author first :-)
I rarely read the dedications, but occasionally one will catch my eye and add to my experience of the book. I find that if I really like the book I will go back and read the dedication.
The one that popped into my mind was in Daughter of the Game by Tracy Grant. She writes a simple but eloquent statement thanking her grandparents for giving her the opportunity to write the book and acknowledges that most people don’t have that luxury. It is more eloquent than my paraphrase here, and it struck a cord.
I always read the dedications, I think they’re interesting. One of my favorites was from an Elizabeth Hoyt book. It said something like, “”And Dad, you’re still not allowed to read this.”” Hilarious. If I’d written a book with explicit sex scenes there would be no way I’d want my dad reading it either!
I also thought the Jill Barnett dedication to her deceased husband was incredibly beautiful and sad. I love reading dedications that are more than just a list of names. Those dedications I just sort of glance over.
Oops, “”…those WHO have made it possible””. *sigh* (Need more coffee!)
I like it when the dedications mention the other romance authors who have mentored them. This is not an easy business to get into, and I’m always in awe of how kind many established authors are to aspiring writers. I also like it when they thank their critique group, people who have given expert advice, etc. Books aren’t written in a vacuum, and it’s nice to see thanks given to those have made it possible.
Yes, I always read them and the acknowledgements page too. Two of the saddest dedications I read were by Jill Barnett, to her husband who died, and by Melissa Nathan who knew she was dying from cancer and wouldn’t be around to see her book published.
Soemtimes yes, sometimes no. If they seem original, I will read them. Many are just a rehash of “”To my husband and kids.”” If it looks like that, I skip.
Yes, I read them. I always wanted to be able to write, “”for my sister Beverly, with love.”” Of course, I’d have to write a book first…….
I always read them, and read the acknowledgments in the back as well. I too enjoy seeing who is mentioned, and I always enjoy JR Ward’s dedications to her BDB series.
If they’re brief, yes. If too long, then no. I love the witty ones also, similar to those you listed by Stuart and Quinn. What’s not to love about those?
The short one’s – Yes.
But there are many lately that are a page or more long and they I cannot be bothered reading.