A lot of people skim past book dedications, but not me. I read them twice: first, when I am turning the pages to start chapter one and then, upon completing the book’s final words. After spending a couple hundred pages with the author, my second reading of the dedication always seems to penetrate deeper.
Book dedications feel like tiny windows into the author’s life. Candidness before the formality of stepping on stage. In just a few words, the author acknowledges the person or people who provided the inspiration for what follows.
When you write your life story - either with the help of a personal historian or on your own - think about to whom you’d like to dedicate your book and what you’d like to say. It can be simple, loving, or even funny. It can mirror the theme of your memoirs or it can stand alone as a unique message. It can be anything at all – just be sure it reflects your voice and spirit.
Below are a few memorable book dedications, some of which are nearly as celebrated as the books they come from. Don’t be intimidated by their ingenuity, though. Thousands upon thousands of books have been dedicated, “For Mom.” That works too.
“An Introduction to Algebraic Topology” – Joseph J. Rotman
“To my wife Marganit
and my children Ella Rose and Daniel Adam
without whom this book would have
been completed two years earlier.”
“Cosmos” – Carl Sagan
“In the vastness of space and immensity of time, it is my joy to spend a planet and an epoch with Annie.”
“The Little Prince” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children– although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication:
To Leon Werth
When he was a little boy”
“The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” – Ernest J. Gaines
“This book is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Mrs. Julius McVay
My stepfather, Mr. Ralph Norbert Colar, Sr.
And to the memory of my beloved aunt, Miss Augusteen Jefferson, who did not walk a day in her life but who taught me the importance of standing”
“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” – C. S. Lewis
“To Lucy Barfield
My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather,
“Otherland” Series – Tad Williams
“This Book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love. Actually Dad doesn’t read fiction, so if someone doesn’t tell him about this, he’ll never know.”
“This Book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love. As I said before, Dad doesn’t read fiction. He still hasn’t noticed that this thing is dedicated to him. This is Volume Two – let’s see how many more until he catches on.”
“This is still dedicated to you-know-who, even if he doesn’t. Maybe we can keep this a secret all the way to the final volume.”
“My father still hasn’t actually cracked any of the books – so, no, he still hasn’t noticed. I think I’m just going to have to tell him. Maybe I should break it to him gently.”
“Everyone here who hasn’t had a book dedicated to them, take three steps forward. Whoops, Dad, hang on there for a second...”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)” – J.K. Rowling
“The dedication of this book is split seven ways:
to Neil, to Jessica, to David, to Kenzie, to Di, to Anne,
and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end.”