Even people who don't read much (and thus, should be very, very ashamed – heh, kidding) have books they remember fondly. Books that they might even keep around for some reason – nostalgia, posterity, maybe even just to look more intelligent.
The copy of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore that adorns my shelf is fairly new, having been bought by my mom in December, 1997 – the winter before she died. I can't be certain why she felt the impulse to buy a children's book, but I assume it was the same reason that I occasionally buy new copies of the books I loved as a child. In the front, she wrote her name and the date.
My younger brother gave me Charlotte's Web on my 10th birthday, drawing a fat pink birthday cake with ten candles on the inside cover. A piece of the book's cover has since been ripped off and I have no recollection of how that happened. But I still love this copy of the E.B. White classic for the fact that my sibling, very young at the time, was already so thoughtful.
When I became obsessed with Sylvia Plath's life and poetry in a community college English class, my best friend at the time gave me a nifty, green-and-gray hardcover edition of The Bell Jar and jotted a little note inside.
And then there are the books I've had signed by the authors. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie was signed when I attended his reading at Barnes & Noble in Skokie, Illinois back in 2007, I believe. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to actually talk to him while he was signing it – it was done in a sort of assembly-line fashion. We gave our books, with our names on little sheets of paper tucked inside, to B&N employees who gave them to Alexie to sign and then brought them back to us. Nevertheless, just having it made me happy.
My former, Pulitzer nominated professor, Luis Alberto Urrea (probably one of the best teachers I've ever had) signed my copy of his book, The Devil's Highway for me and drew a little cactus inside.
And both, my copy of Valencia and my copy of The Chelsea Whistle were signed by Michelle Tea from two different Sister Spit performances at my favorite Chicago bookstore, Women & Children First.
One of those nights, I also had my picture taken with the author.
Louise Tripp grew up in North Carolina. She currently lives in Chicago, where she is revising her first YA novel and working in a public library. You can read her regular blog at http://risktoblossom.blogspot.com.