Riverside Shakespeare – signed by Jim Schweigert
The Book Thief – signed by Markus Zusak
Peace Like a River – signed by Lief Enger
Beyond Survival – signed by Kevin Rahm
Blood Rose Rebellion – signed by Rosalyn Eves
The other day I was thinking about how that one time I loaned a book to a friend–not just any book, but an autographed book–and after reading it she gave it to a stranger on a bus and I will never see it again.
The book, Beyond Survival, was about a prisoner during the Viet Nam war. It was signed by my brother’s friend and fellow student, Kevin Rohm in the BYU theater department after they finished an amazing production “Prisoner” at BYU. Kevin was the lead. Now he is a professional actor and has been in films and also a recurring character (at least in previous seasons) in Madam Secretary.
Then I remembered how I have terrible luck with signed books and perhaps I should stop having people sign books altogether.
I attended a lecture at BYU with Wendy Shalit and purchased two copies of her book A Return to Modesty. She addressed one to me, and the other to my daughter. I let someone in book group read my autographed copy, and never saw it again. Of course I still have the autographed copy for my daughter, but she couldn’t be less interested, so I maybe I will send it to DI eventually?
Speaking of DI, I always wonder if someday someone will find any of my missing books with their personalized autographs and Google “Dalene” to see if maybe I wanted them back. Because surely everyone knows people don’t discard autographed books specifically addressed to them on purpose.
The most heartbreaking (don’t worry, there is a happy ending) personalized autographed book tragedy was when I loaned out my autographed hard copy of The Book Thief to a dear friend. She was helping take care of my grandmother at the time and actually brought it back to return to me one time when I visited my grandmother, but then we got to visiting and I forgot to take it with me when I left.
Then she went on a mission. And thought the book may have been left in her car with some skirts that were supposed to go to DI. Her family looked and looked. But never found the book.
I actually prayed over that book. I wanted it back. I’d waited in line until 1:00 in the morning to have Markus Zusak sign it (he is adorable, by the way, and had given one of the most moving author lectures ever when he came to the Provo Library). I LOVE that book. It’s story haunts me in the same way death is haunted by humans.
In any case, a couple years after said friend got home from her mission, she showed up at my house with a great big smile on her face and her eyes lit up like it was Christmas!
She found the book!
It is right up there with my copy of The Riverside Shakespeare that was presented to me and is signed by my favorite high school English teacher when I received English Student of the Year as only a handful of “things” about which I care a great deal. (Which I also lost at one time, but eventually found, because it was just lost in my house, which is a whole other post someday.)
Three weeks ago I posted a photo on Facebook while I was in Cedar City for work (when we burned down a house). Someone I know from Segullah, who, as it turns out, also grew up in my current neighborhood, replied to my post and asked me when I’d be down that way again because she’d love to say hello. As it was, I turned around and went back to Cedar City just a couple of days later. Turns out, I was there the same night as the book signing of her first published novel. My class finished just in time for me to sneak up on her and say hello.
One more little anecdote about signed books. The first time I went to an author signing event at the Provo Library, I went to have Leif Enger sign my copy of Peace Like a River. As I neared the front of the line I searched earnestly to say something that would express how much I loved his book. Finally it came to me.
“I had to get this back from my son’s ex-girlfriend’s* little sister in order to get it signed. That’s how much we love your book.”
He got it!
*Same girl–whom I still love like a daughter even though she’s married to someone else’s son–who lost my autographed copy of The Book Thief.
[Day 107 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]