12 Books of Christmas – #10 Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience – Shaun Usher

ImageI’d never heard of lettersofnote.com before this book was published so I’m a recent convert and I can see how addictive it is.  If you’ve not visited the website before,  it’s well worth a look but be warned, you’ll lose hours to it without realising!

The book itself is a stunningly well-designed tome of a coffee table book featuring over a hundred letters as seen on the website.  It brings together correspondence from all eras, from film stars to politicians to scientists and literary heroes.   The contents of the letters range from the poignant (the absolute heartbreaking letter from Richard Feynman to his dead wife Arline), to the informative (a school girl asking Einstein if Scientists Pray…Einstein replies that many apparently have some sort of faith) and the trivial (The Queen’s recipe for Drop Scones).  It’s not the sort of book you read from cover to cover (I’ve certainly not) but it is great just to flick through because you always find something interesting to read but that said there are letters I know that I could read over and over.  Also it does feel slightly wrong and even intrusive at times to read some of the more private letters but at the same time, as the title suggests, as ‘letters of note’, it also feels equally right to have these letters in particular out there to preserve for future generations.  As romantic as corresponding by letter writing sounds, in a digital age with instant communication, it’s obviously a dwindling art form. However, after flitting through ‘Letters of Note’, I can’t help but want to make an effort every now and again and put pen to paper.

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