I was fortunate to have permission to use some translations in my newest novel and I have just packaged complementary copies as a small thank you to the copyright owners. I thought about signing the books, but decided to include thank you notes on separate cards instead.
I do sign books, when asked, but I hate writing in books. It was the way I was brought up. Books were precious, not to be marred. This point was made clear to me when I was two or three and thought decorating one of my parents’ books would be just the thing. They did not agree.
One of the too many things I kept when my parents died was the large library of their favorite books. Some of them I kept because I wanted to read them, but some of them I kept because the sight of them sitting on the self said “home” to me. Of all these books, there is only one that I have found with notes in it, a book my mother wrote in.
I love this book. My mother’s voice sings from its pages. I wish I had many more books with notes in the margins, underlinings, question marks and exclamation points. I wish I had many more books with my parents’ opinions scattered among the pages.
Recently I have tried writing notes in books. I found it difficult. I go back to the books I have marred and look at the notes. Maybe for someone else those notes would be of interest, but for me they just look messy. They don’t enhance my reading experience and they don’t help me find the important passages. I will not write in more of my own books.
I will continue to sign books when asked, but every time I do, I cringe.