In For the Love of Letters, O'Shea gives advice and instruction. This book has chapters on love letters, (blushing) adult love letters, good-bye letters, thank you letters, apologies, notes of sympathy, and even letters to the editor and recommendation letters. Each chapter introduces the situation in which one might send a certain letter and contains several examples of this type of letter that she has personally sent or received or one penned by a famous person such as John Keats, Edgar Allen Poe, or Marie Antoinette.
There is practical advice contained in each chapter for the following categories (all of these examples are from the Thank You Letter, in chapter 4):
Starting off: Be specific, mention what you like, or a helpful tip for when you don't like it (focus your excitement on the giver instead, "It was so nice to see you and hear about your trip to Greece. Your tan looks fabulous."
Signing off: With deep gratitude and all my best wishes, lovingly, gratefully, thankfully, all my best
Grammar: How important is it for each type of letter? (A misspelled word or two will be forgiven if you are sharing your passion for someone). Try to get the basics right in a thank you note.
How to Send: Always write by hand, and then mail or personally deliver.
How to Receive: Enjoy. There's no need to issue a thank you for the thank you., but there's nothing stopping you either.
I enjoyed reading this book with its fun and conversational tone, but also for the simple way the advice is presented. For one thing, she doesn't malign email as evil and socially inappropriate. In fact, there are some instances in which she recommends the email as the delivery method of choice. The helpful tips are a wonderful way to refine your letter writing, give your letters more personality, or help you communicate more effectively (and isn't that exactly the point of writing?).
Read this book to find out not only how to write letters, but to remind yourself why we write letters.
Letters equaled evidence. Evidence that they had existed. That they breathed. That they had good insights and bad days. That they loved. That they suffered. That they were selfish. And that, sometimes, they were satisfied.
--Introduction p. xi
This book was sent to me by the publisher Harper-Collins for review.
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