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On Reading the Acknowledgements

Katherine Marciniak

Staff Writer

Katherine is an over-caffeinated avid reader, writer and college student. She was featured in the anthology Once Upon an Apocalypse, and loves to beta read and edit when she has the opportunity. She’ll do more impressive things after she’s finished her tea…and this next chapter.

Sometimes, I read the acknowledgements.

Okay, just—most of the time.

I don’t remember which book it was, but when I was a kid, I discovered that the authors of a book I was reading thanked Darth Vader in their acknowledgements. It was from that moment on that I realized that acknowledgements can be the hidden treasure trove of books. Authors use it, obviously, to thank and acknowledge the people that helped them work on the book. What I’ve discovered is that most of the time authors seem to assume that no one’s going to read their acknowledgements. So they are free to be funny or witty or anything else, if they want to.

teen reading award-winning ya books

And I’m so here for it.

I have a few reasons for reading the acknowledgements.

  1. I want to see if I recognize any names. (Sometimes that’s true—my mom is in the acknowledgements in Across the Universe and I’m in the acknowledgements for The Ghost Engine). When I was growing up, my mom was beginning to publish novels. She was heavily involved in critique groups, so it was an actual possibility to recognize names.
  2. Sometimes it’s because it’s fascinating, the sheer number of people who band together to help write a book. We all think it’s a solo adventure of sorts (even authors think that), but in reality, it’s a gigantic group effort. It takes a village to create a book! Just look at all the people that authors end up thanking! Sometimes, there are pages of people!
  3. Other times I read the acknowledgements because it’s at the end of a really good book and I don’t want to stop reading. Heck, if the copyright information were in the back of the book, I might plow right through and read that too.

And so, I read the acknowledgements. You never know what could be hiding in there (and thank you, authors who write fun acknowledgements!). Sometimes, the acknowledgements tell just as interesting a story as the novel itself.