Why I Always Read the Acknowledgments Section
[image description: a white person sitting cross-legged and holding an open book in their lap as sunlight filters in through the window. The photo was taken from above, so only the person’s legs and arm are visible.]
Years ago, I couldn’t have cared less about the acknowledgment sections in books. I thought they were useless to readers since they tended to just thank a lot of people who helped bring the book to life, which is a nice gesture from the author, but not anything a reader could benefit from.
But over the years, I’ve realized how wrong that is!
You learn a lot about people from the acknowledgments sections. I first started reading them because I’m an aspiring writer and if the book is similar to something I might want to write, it’s useful for me to see if the author names their agent or editor. Those folks might be good people for me to pitch one day, so I started making note.
They’ll also occasionally mentioned particular workshops they took or writing fellowships and residencies they did. Those, too, are good for me to know since they’re things I might want to check out one day.
As I continued to read the acknowledgments, other things started jumping out at me too.
I would notice the author mentioning other writers I like, which never ceases to elicit a “I didn’t know they were friends!” exclamation. Similarly when authors mention where they’re from or where they went to school. Occasionally I’ll find out info like this and it suddenly makes sense what inspired the setting of the book or the background of a particular character. For novels in particular, I know not all fiction is autobiographical, but it’s always fascinating to me when I find out about pieces that were.
The acknowledgments section also made me rethink the way I think about my relationship within the context of my writing.
I used to get super annoyed and eye-rolly when female authors thanked their husbands in the acknowledgments. I’d think to myself, Don’t give him credit for your work! YOU wrote the thing, honey! This disdain was partly inspired by the acknowledgments of the male authors I read who didn’t seem to thank their wives at nearly the same rate.
It wasn’t until I started living with my partner that I realized there’s something to it. There have been so many times when I’ve been plugging away writing at my computer when he’s cooked dinner, done the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and kept me readily supplied with hot tea. These are activities we’d normally share and mutually take responsibility for, but he knows how important my work is to me and wanted to give me more time to focus. Time is a commodity and every chore he takes off my plate gives me more time to work toward my dreams. This happens often enough that I think he definitely deserves a thank you in my future books.
It’s odd that something that used to be an afterthought has now become a part of the book I always look forward to reading, but life is funny like that sometimes.
Do you read the acknowledgments sections? Tell me in the comments!