For Those Whose Names Are Only Read

December 9, 2011 § 7 Comments

One of my favorite pages to read in a book is the dedication page. This page is so important because the names listed on this page are the ones that motivated, supported, encouraged, and shaped the author’s voice. It’s only the author’s voice that as readers we often hear, but what about the ones that helped shaped that voice?

In thinking about those who have shaped me, I wanted to share some of my favorite author dedications from my bookshelf.

1. Amy Sedaris (sister of Paul Sedaris) is so funny, so funny. Her hospitality book I Like You’s dedication page is complete with a real cute picture.

Dedicated to…

Mom, Dad, Lisa, David, Gretchen, Tiffany, Paul, Aunt Joyce, Madelyn Rose, Paul Dinello, and Mr. Mushroom.

Photo from Sedaris's dedication page.

2.  Elle Van Lieshout and Erik Van Os wrote an adorable picture book, Lovey and Dovey, about two characters who have stolen each other’s hearts. Their dedication is as warm as this story.

Our one-hundredth book for none other than our parents.

3. I just started reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I read her dedication page and realized how personal, intimate nicknames are between people.

For Alberto and Octavio, whom I call by other names.

4. The first author reading I ever went to was by Kao Kalia Yang, who wrote The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir. Her dedication reminded me much of my own dedication to my own grandmother who helped me find a voice when I wrote my thesis.

For my grandmother, Youa Lee, who never learned how to write.

To my baby brother, Maxwell Hwm Yang, who will read the things she never wrote.

5. Kate DiCamillo is one author who I would like to sit and have a long, lingering breakfast with in my home. The story of the little mice in The Tale of Despereaux is beautiful, inspiring, and moving.

For Luke, who asked for the story of an unlikely hero.

Yes, I would recommend all of these books.

I am dedicating this post to Abi who has helped me find my voice as a writer on this blog.

For Abi, who is my truest friend and kindred spirit.

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§ 7 Responses to For Those Whose Names Are Only Read

  • e says:

    I’m now ashamed to realize that in half the books I’ve read, I skipped the dedication page. Or maybe it was the acknowledgments page with the inevitable five editors, three churches, and two Paneras. I always thought if I published a book, I wouldn’t have a dedication page, but now I just feel selfish.

  • I had it pointed out to me in a lit class recently that I read every tiny thing in the text (which is basically true) and that includes the dedication page. I love seeing a post about it because I often notice similar things. The dedication page always seems like the most personal part of the book to me even though I’m obviously not the person the book is being dedicated to.

  • Marcia says:

    I love this post, Pakou. Thank you. Have you read Jhumpa Lahira’s short stories? I liked The Namesake very much, but loved Interpreter of Maladies.

    So glad Abi helped you find your voice–great blog you guys have!

    • I haven’t read Lahira’s short stories. I do have a copy of Interpreter of Maladies, but haven’t read it yet. I’m still reading through The Namesake.

      Thanks for the encouragement and for reading!

  • Charity says:

    In your blog, I have found a new home. Thank you so much, Abi and Pakou. One of my very favorite dedications is from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is quite long, but here’s a sample: “I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books….But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

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