One of my favorite things about shopping in a used a bookstore is finding a book that has an inscription. Whether it be a name or a note, a handwritten inscription gives my sense of curiosity a jolt. It’s like I’m getting two stories for the price of one! During my travels around the world and frequent visits to local used bookstores, I’ve come across my fair share of inscribed books. However, there are a few that really stick out in my mind as being the most interesting.
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam (Translated by Edward FitzGerald)
I came across this book at used book fair shortly after starting my career as a teacher. When I opened it up and saw the inscription, I knew it was kismet that brought me to this book.
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Ticket to Ride by Dennis Potter
The inscription in this book has baffled me from the very beginning in that I don’t know if it is quoted material from a known writer or if it is a memory written by a poetic soul. Either way, I find it to be a hilarious beginning to a great story.
If anyone recognizes these lines, please let me know in the comments! I’ve done everything from library to google searches and have come up with nothing.
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The Vagabond by Colette
When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be a nice weekend read. After opening the cover and reading such a wonderful letter the book instantly became more meaningful to me as I travel the path of a writer.
Wherever Laura is now, I hope she is living out loud!
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The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker
I’ve always loved this very simple inscription, because 110 years ago someone got this book as a Christmas gift. I can’t help but wonder how that particular Christmas was celebrated and who the lucky recipient was of such a nice gift.
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Aside from used bookstores, I’ve inherited a number of books with inscriptions. Sometimes the signatures relate to past and present family members, while others do not. Either way, they are very special to me as I remember seeing the writing in these books as a child.
Stories of Great Musicians (Eclectic Readings Series)
This book sat on my grandparents’ bookshelf the entire time I was growing up. I must have read it dozens of times! I wonder if Edward practiced the way Mary hoped he would.
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The Complete Works of Shakespeare
My grandmother owned this edition for a long time before handing it down to my aunt, who then gave it to me. It’s one of my treasured possessions as I love Shakespeare and the history that has gathered in the pages of the leather-bound beauty. I love it when a list of names fills up the first page of a book like a family tree of sorts.
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My grandmother held this book in her hands when she was a little girl. I’ve had it since I was about 13 years old and have somehow managed to keep an inscribed loose page from wandering off!
Every book on my shelf has a story, but those with ink-stained pages are the ones I love best.
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Special Note: You don’t have to squint to read these fantastic inscriptions. Click on any image for a full-size view!
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