Photo: Joao Silas,

I have been sorting through some books lately. With the intent, of course, of paring down my pile.

I had purchased some books at a library book sale last year and decided that now I needed to look at each one again with a critical eye. I tried to be very stern with myself, which is extremely hard for me to do when faced with a stack of books.

  • Would I seriously ever read this one? The title caught my attention at the time, but do I care to engross myself in the topic now?
  • Should I let that one go or keep it–and hope some day to find a few spare minutes to read it? (You know, for those rainy days . . . except here in Oklahoma that doesn’t happen very often, so . . .)
  • How many pages are in this book? Can I logically see myself reading a 600-page book by the end of the year?

And the deliberation continued, bitter and cruel . . .

As I flipped through pages of the used books I had purchased, I noticed several notes inscribed on the front pages of a few titles.

One inscription read:

Dearest Mother,

This is the companion book that goes with your “Streams in the Desert”. May you receive the blessings from this as you have from that book.

I love you so much –


For your birthday –

October 2, 1961.

I am always curious about the backstory in a real-life story. Who is (or was) Ruth? Did her mother read the book and “receive the blessings” Ruth hoped she would?


Springs in the Valley by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman.


In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, I found this note:

To the best teacher I know – I hop it proves to be of some use. I love you,


November, 2004

Unfortunately, this is a book on grammar. I wondered if his teacher ever read the inscription, and if he or she taught Patrick how to spell “hope.”


Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss.

I started scanning a few of my old familiar books for any inscriptions. I found this short one in Just Jane by Nancy Moser:


To: Jess

From: Liz

Merry Christmas to a fellow Jane Austen fan!

And in The Measure of a Heart by Janet Oke–given to me on my birthday:

To my sweet sister, Jessica, on her 15th birthday. I love you honey. You will always be “my little girl.”


I was drawn to these inscriptions. Each one was written with love and thoughtfulness, making the gift more special. I wondered if I (or the other recipients) cherished the book more, knowing the giver had written a note especially for me (or them).

I wondered what kind of inscription I would write in a book given as a gift. Would my words be read and remembered? Would the book I gave to a friend influence their life for the better? And if, someday, some other reader found that book at a book sale, would my words inspire them as much as the content of the book?

Obviously, by now you know that I am a bookworm . . . yet I am still learning that the power of a book can never be underestimated. (Think Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, or Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Think The Complete Works of William Shakespeare or Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe or The Diary of Anne Frank. Not to mention The Bible.)

The inscriptions within the front pages of the books I own added a unique touch to that power–the power of the written word. I was challenged to focus on my own inscriptions the next time I bought a book for a friend.

Perhaps my inscriptions will speak to that friend . . . and someone else someday.


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