Friday, May 15, 2009

The Book Inscriptions Project

The Book Inscriptions Project

What We Do:
We collect personal messages written in ink (or pen or marker or crayon or grape jelly) inside books.
Pictures count. So do poems. So do notes on paper found in a book. The more heartfelt the better.
Send a copy of the cover and the inscription and any details about how, when and where you found it.

How it Started:
The Book Inscriptions Project started in 2002 when I opened a book from the shelf of an underground
Manhattan bar. The Road to ‘Human Destiny’: A Life of Pierre Lecomte Du Noüy by Mary Lecomte
Du Noüy. Inside the book I found this inscription:

“Joey, I love you so much!
You have surpassed the definition
for all. I will always cherish our orgasmic
love + resistance

For whatever reason, I happened to open the book and saw the message from Mark to Joey.
Something about that note, handwritten by an unknown to an unknown of whose whereabouts,
gender and relationship I was unaware, struck me as both tragic and powerful. Since then I’ve been
searching for more inscriptions and, after poring through thousands of books at garage sales, libraries
and book sales, I now have a large and ever-growing collection.

These inscriptions—not to be confused with author dedications or autographs—are personal messages
written in ink (or lead or marker) and were given as gifts from one person to another. Some of them are
so private that it seems almost impossible that they ended up in a library or a garage sale. Did the owner
die, or forget that his copy of After the Fall contained a private note from his parents?

Maybe someday this book will again find its way to Mark or Joey and I’ll get to meet them, and ask them
if it worked out, if their orgasmic moments were enough to survive life’s difficulties. I’d like to ask Joey if
he was able to resist the temptations or oppositions that plagued him. I’d like to ask what those were. I’d
like to ask Mark what inspired him to write his message in this tragic memoir.

Now the Project is out of my hands and into yours. Send us all the book inscriptions you find.


I love you Soo much!
You have surpassed the definition
for all. I will always cherish our orgasmic
love + resistance

Found in a Manhattan bar, 2002.
The one that started it all.

“Dear Manny
Best wishes for
good health after
this fall.
Lou and Dovie”

Found in Russakoff’s bookstore, Philadelphia. March 2005.
I wonder if Manny has arisen from his fall.


A 1972 copy of The Great Pyramid: Man’s Monument to Man by Tom Valentine.
Found at Kulturas Used Books in Washington, DC. November 2005.
Truly Inspiring.

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