I enjoy reading and love books, the reasons are same as everyone else’s. But before starting with the story, I like to scrutinise the title and the artwork on the cover, to see whether it has an indication and coherence to what lies between the covers, as stated in the blurb of the book.
I also spend time surveying the author’s photo, the expression on the face, the backdrop and try to find some link to the story or try to decipher something about the author. But the things above are not decided solely by the author, the publisher and the editorial team may have the final say and hence they become impersonal.
To know more about the author, I turn the pages to reach the dedication page, my favourite page. The dedication page is decided by the author alone and reveals a lot in the mere two or more sentences. In a line or two, the author starts a story and leaves the rest to imagination. As someone wrote dedications “are story within a story”.
The dedication is different from the acknowledgement. Acknowledgements are for all the people who helped the book see the light of the day – both inspiration and perspiration. But dedication is devoted to a special person or people in the author’s life. There are various genre of dedications – funny, loving, sentimental etc. Though the funny ones make you smile, the loving ones are more endearing.
Declarations are not made to appease, all the appeasement can be done with the acknowledgement. It’s a full page crafted only with two lines and hence a mention here is definitely the most sincere declaration of love and fondness. The book itself is a labour of love and the dedication of all that hard work to someone is romantic. And if it’s just a single name that’s mentioned, you are intrigued by the magic the person holds over the author. The dedications arrests your attention for a very brief moment and fuels your imagination on the why and how, before you start with the story. Consider the book Serious Men by Manu Joseph, a delightful read; the book is dedicated to Anuradha. Though the name is mentioned only once, in the dedication page, I google Anuradha to satiate my curiosity.
If the author is on a publishing spree, churning out one book after another, the dedications are given either in context of the subject matter of the book or in the order of importance in the web of life and hence will be able to cover most of his/her family and friends. But sadly such declarations of love are limited to the world of writers and for the rest of us we have to use other conventional methods of public declarations such as dedicating songs over the radio, tattoo, T-shirts, social media posts, video clips, engraved jewellery, gifting of cards, flowers, chocolates and other gestures of love. But they are ephemeral and do not match the romantic eternality of the book dedications.
Happy Valentine’s Day !!