6 books about letter writing that we love

6 books about letter writing that we love

As letter writers, we love it when we discover a book that features characters scribbling their thoughts onto paper and pouring their hearts out with pen and ink. 

In historical books and classic literature, letter writing holds that lovely nostalgic quality that you simply don't get with characters sending emails and whatsapp messages to each other. Mr. Darcy's letter to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Wentworth's note to Anne in Persuasion. The letters between Cecilia and Robbie in Ian McEwan's Atonement. They're all passionate hand-written declarations that resonate with readers because they're so personal and full of thought. 

Yet plenty of recent bestsellers have also featured letters - proving that letter writing is still the perfect way for characters to express themselves with power and emotion.

If you're craving a book with letters, here are some of our favourites. 

1. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (2014) 

Jenny Han's YA novel centres around High School student Lara Jean Covey and the letters she writes to the five boys she ever loved. Having had no intention of actually sending them, Lara Jean is mortified when her younger sister Kitty posts them to the oblivious boys. The book is inspired by Han's own habit of writing love letters to boys when she was a teenager and it's an utterly charming, heartwarming book that led to an equally endearing Netflix adaptation.

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008) 

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's epistolary novel is told entirely through letters sent between characters in the wake of the Second World War. It follows author Juliet Ashton's correspondence with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - a hastily created social group concocted as a cover for residents breaking curfew during Germany's occupation of the Channel Islands. A quirky novel that's witty and moving in equal measures. 

3. Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce (2018) 

Another book that deals with the fallout of war is AJ Pearce's debut, which takes place in London, 1941. Emmeline Lake is a typist for the renowned magazine Agony Aunt Henrietta Bird, who has no time for 'unpleasant' letters. As Emmy reads the letters sent by women with desperate and unfortunate circumstances, she's compelled to secretly write back to them. This is a delightful love letter to women during wartime, to the power of friendship and kindness, and to letter writing itself.

4. The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen (2018)

We knew we had to grab a copy of Helen Cullen's wonderful debut novel after reading her opinion piece for the Guardian on how children can discover the magic of Christmas by writing cards. The titular William Woolf works in East London's Dead Letters Depot as a letter detective trying to solve the mysteries of missing postcodes, smudged ink and torn address labels. When he discovers a series of letters addressed to 'My Great Love', William must solve his greatest mystery yet. This is a brilliant book that captures the nostalgic magic of letter writing.

5. Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (2017)

The emotional first book in Brigid Kemmerer's Letters To The Lost series centres on Juliet Young, who leaves letters on her mum's grave as a way of coping with her grief. Declan Murphy is the 'bad boy' working court-ordered community service at the local cemetery when he finds the haunting letters left by Juliet. He instinctively writes back and the two lost teenagers connect via their secret letters. It's a story of grief, friendship, love and loss that you can really invest in. 

6. Letters of Note by Shaun Usher (2013)

For those more partial to non-fiction, Shaun Usher's compilation of important, entertaining and unusual correspondence is a must-read. It features over a hundred letters written by famous, influential and, in some cases, controversial figures, capturing their lives and feelings in the moment they wrote those letters. From Gandhi to Albert Einstein and Virginia Woolf to Emily Dickinson, Letters of Note is a book to keep revisiting.

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