There’s no gift quite like a book.
A book is like a magical form of traveling for your mind. It challenges you to picture characters and stories and interpret them what you may. It can help you learn, serve as a conversation starter, and inspire you to dream.
It can also strengthen bonds (hello, book clubs), be passed down as family heirlooms, and be emotional-healing to experience stories that resonate with your soul.
Giving someone a book—whether you were the one who wrote it or read and loved it—can be a thoughtful gesture for any occasion. But how do you make it a little more thoughtful? Rather than just picking up a copy at the local bookshop and sending it to them or emailing them a Kindle version, there’s something more meaningful about giving a book with a sentimental message inside.
Just how do you know what to write in a book for a gift? Read on...
IN THIS ARTICLE:
- Why Write a Message In a Book Gift?
- Where to Inscribe Your Book
- What to Write in a Yearbook
- What to Write in a Book for a Loved One
- What to Write in a Book for a Someone Who’s Experienced Loss
- How to Write a Heartfelt Book Message in a Cookbook
WHY WRITE A MESSAGE IN A BOOK GIFT?
First off, why write a message in a book gift? In short, it adds a personal touch and lets the person you’re giving it to know you were thinking about them.
Over the years, a couple of my former editors have given me copies of books they’ve written with thoughtful notes inside which brings back memories of our time working together. I’ve also received books with messages inside from people I’ve interviewed, and each was written based on the conversations we had. There’s a novel on sustainability on my bookshelf from an artist who got me interested in the topic, and a detective story on jewelry given to me by a designer who was quoted in one of its chapters.
Including a heartfelt message inside a book can turn a generic gift into a meaningful keepsake.
WHERE TO INSCRIBE YOUR BOOK
Where you decide to write in the book is a personal preference. Perhaps on the top of the inside cover page, the title page, or the first page are all ideal spots. The key is finding enough space for your note, and adding it in the beginning pages so your recipient can see it upfront.
HOW TO WRITE A PERSONAL MESSAGE IN A BOOK
First, choose a book. This is the hard part since it can be challenging to know what book someone will like. If you’re feeling stuck, think about their personality, conversations you’ve had, and the occasion for your gift.
If it’s, say, a book for your significant other, maybe find a romance novel or a guide like The 5 Love Languages. Reflect on movies you’ve watched together to get a feel of their favorite genres.
Okay, now it’s time to write your note. Do so on a piece of scrap paper first to make sure you have everything you want to say mapped out and to get an idea of how much space your note will take. Write legibly and clearly with a black or blue pen—this will ensure your message lives on through the years. Keep in mind that markers and felt pens might bleed through the page, so try a fade-resistant ballpoint one instead.
Also, include the date so if it’s passed down to their children and grandchildren one day, they can look back at how far it’s come. Sign your name, and let the ink dry before closing the book to prevent any smudges.
WHAT TO WRITE IN A YEARBOOK
I had two best friends in high school which made graduating an emotional moment. It was a chapter of new beginnings, and parting ways with the people who I spent the most time with throughout the past four years.
Just how do you know what to write in a book gift for a friend if it’s a yearbook? Whether it’s long or short, write a note that’s personal. Maybe recall the fun times you had together in gym class or your bond over music after meeting in orchestra. Write the note next to your photo, superlative, sports team photo, or wherever best aligns with your memories together.
Share an inside joke, talk about how you couldn’t have survived without them in driver’s ed, or add an inspiring quote to motivate them for the future, like...
- “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” —James Dean
- “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” —Confucius
- “Live for the moments you can’t put into words.” —Anonymous
- “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” —Seth Godin
- “Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings.” —Jonathan Lockwood Huie
- “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” —Lao Tzu
- “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.” —Guy Finley
- “The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.” —Josiyah Martin
- “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” —Plato
WHAT TO WRITE IN A BOOK FOR A LOVED ONE
Thinking about what to write in a book as a gift for a girlfriend? Or maybe it’s for your child, sibling, parent, or best friend, and you’re wondering what to say.
Perhaps write why you’re giving them this book and what it means to you. Another idea: add a quote directly in the book that you feel will resonate with them. Make it as lighthearted or as personal and deep as you’d like—there’s no “right” way to write a book message.
As long as it comes from your heart or is chosen with thought, you really can’t go wrong.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” —Margaret Fuller
“I love you right up to the moon—and back.” —Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
“No two persons ever read the same book.” —Edmund Wilson
“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life they had never seen.” —Roald Dahl, Matilda
“We loved with a love that was more than love.” —Edgar Allan Poe
“A child who reads will be an adult who thinks.”
“Keep reading. It’s one of the most marvelous adventures that one can have.” —Lloyd Alexander
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” —Mason Cooley
“Reading is to the mind, as exercise is to the body.” —Brian Tracy
- “A book is a dream you hold in your hands.” —Neil Gaiman
WHAT TO WRITE IN A BOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO’S EXPERIENCED LOSS
Reading is one of the best forms of distraction there is. If the person you’re giving a book to just experienced loss or is going through a hard time in their life, an inspiring story can be priceless. It can uplift their spirit and get them in a better mindset.
It can be difficult to know what to say to someone who’s grieving—maybe in your note, let them know that you care, and are there for them. Perhaps choose a book that will remind them of the person they are missing, or go another route and find a story with a completely different topic for them to take their imagination to another world.
Can’t find the right words to include in your note? Try…
“We read to know that we are not alone.” —C.S. Lewis
“That’s the thing about books—they let you travel without moving your feet.” —Jhumpa Lahiri
“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.” —Alberto Manguel
“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” —Annie Dillard
“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” —Mark Twain
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home.” —Anna Quindlen
“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” —Margaret Atwood
“Open books lead to open minds.”
“A little reading is all the therapy a person needs sometimes.”
- “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” —John Green
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK MESSAGE FOR SOMEONE WHO LOVES TO COOK
Have someone in your life who loves to cook?
For as long as I can remember, my cousin, Gary, cooks on almost all of our family get-togethers. He does so for work, too, out of the sheer joy of it—from shopping at the supermarket to grilling on the barbeque to decorating the food with garnishes on thoughtfully-arranged plates and silverware.
For him, gift-giving is always easier. I can always count on cookbooks to make fitting presents. But even if the person you’re looking to shop for is a newbie in the kitchen, know this: cooking has a way of bringing people together. And who doesn’t love a good meal?
If you’re looking for a heartfelt message to write inside of a cookbook, maybe refer to a meal you’ve had together, a conversation you shared around food, or add one of the below quotes...
- “A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.” —Thomas Keller
- “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” —Julia Child
- “You want happy endings, read cookbooks.” —Dean Young
- “Cooking is a philosophy; it’s not a recipe.” —Marco Pierre White
- “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” —Julia Child
- “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” —Hippocrates
- “Laughter is brightest where food is best.” —Irish Proverb
- “The cookbooks I value the most in my collection are the ones where you hear the author’s voice and point-of-view in every recipe.” —Anthony Bourdain
- “What makes cookbooks interesting is to find out about the people and the culture that invented the food.” —Vincent Schiavelli
- “There is no sincere love than the love of food.” —George Bernard Shaw
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