• Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

The Stories Behind My Collection of Signed and Inscribed Books

Put these books on your summer reading list

My collection of signed and inscribed books.


The Books in My Life


Years ago at our local library’s used book sale I came across a paperback book titled The Books in My Life. As a bibliophile with over 1,200 books in my house, the title resonated with me.


I opened the book and discovered it was signed by its British author Colin Wilson. I paid a dollar for this wonderful memoir, and added it to my collection of signed and inscribed books.


You might be wondering — what is the difference between a signed book and an inscribed book. A signed book contains only the author’s signature. An inscribed book contains a short personal note.


Inscribed Books


The first inscribed book I received is Rosario Ferre’s 1995 The House on the Lagoon. As soon as I read the review, I went to Border’s and purchased it. A National Book Award finalist, this page-turner was signed and inscribed by Rosario after her inspiring talk about writing fiction, and the characters in her book.

She inscribed in Spanish —

Para Miriam con un abrazo.

During my tenure at a university, one of its alumni came to speak about her memoir and losing her husband in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. Jennifer Sand’s talk was moving and inspirational. It brought me to tears.


At the end of her talk, I purchased a copy of her heart-rending and gripping 2003 memoir A Tempered Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the Ashes of Loss.


Jennifer signed and inscribed her book.

To Miriam May faith always guide your journey through life…Jer 29:11.

Book Festivals


Many years ago while attending and presenting at a teaching and learning conference in Nashville, TN, I snuck out to attend the Southern Festival of Books televised live on C-Span Book TV.


I was thrilled to see that Bryan Batt from AMC’s Mad Men was one the authors. He talked about his charming, funny, and moving 2010 memoir. She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother is about growing up gay in the South and his amazing support system — his mother.


The inscription in his signed book reads:

For Miriam All My Love

At the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival, I attended Tavis Smiley’s talk on his book Death of A King: The Real Story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year with David Ritz. A fascinating talk and book.

Tavis signed, inscribed, and dated his book.

Miriam — Love, Tavis. 27 Sept. 2014

Running Books


My first inscribed running book is Dean Karnazes’s Ultramarathon Man. I took the paperback copy I bought at Border’s in 2005 to the panel discussion about ultrarunning at the NorthFace store in Washington DC the day before running the 2010 NorthFace 50 mile endurance run.


Dean and two other ultrarunners shared their inspiring stories. After the talk, Dean signed, inscribed, and dated his book.

Miriam, Keep smiling and keep running! DC 2010

One of my favorite books about ultrarunning is New York Times best selling author Christopher McDougall’s 2009 Born to Run. In 2011, he gave a talk about his book at the Collingswood Book Festival. He also signed and inscribed my copy.

To Miriam, Run Wild

One day I hope to see him at another book festival so he can sign my copy of his 2015 book Natural Born Heroes. I reviewed this book for the Philadelphia Inquirer.


After reading about ultrarunner Charlie Engle running 26 hours to celebrate 26 years of sobriety, I contacted him for a copy of his 2016 memoir, Running Man, so I could review it on my website.


Within a couple of days, I received a signed and inscribed copy.

To Miriam, I hope you find a bit of inspiration in these pages. Never stop exploring. Happy running.

In 2018 I reviewed Scott Jurek’s North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail. That summer he was the guest speaker at the Atlantic City Vegan Food Fest. We chatted.


He signed and inscribed my book.

To Miriam, Stay on that rugged path North!

My First Book Signing


I love books. I love to read books. I love to collect books.

I treasure my signed and inscribed books.

I am also an author, and have signed and inscribed my 2009 English for Pharmacy Writing and Oral Communication.


At a book signing of local authors at Barnes & Nobel last summer, I signed and inscribed copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good. My story, Running in Sickness and in Health, is featured.

You can also read Running in Sickness and in Health here.


Summer Reading


Going to book festivals, book stores, author book signings, and library used book sales is not possible during the coronavirus pandemic.


But summer is around the corner. Add these titles to your summer reading list. You can order these books online or download them on Audible and Kindle. Check out your local library to see if you can download free digital content.


If you’re looking for signed and inscribed books, you might find some in people’s curbside trash. I have rescued over 200 books, a few signed and inscribed, from people’s trash while on my training runs.


Originally published in Medium


Copyright 2020


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