Letter Writing Week Reading List

Universal Letter Writing Week takes place every year during the second full week of January, and it encourages us all to pick up a pen and paper and write to someone. This year, it takes place from January 8 to 14.

Letters are a time-honored way to swap pleasantries and news. Writing one can be an act of self-reflection, activism, and criticism, or even a work of art. During Universal Letter Writing Week, we celebrate letters in all their forms by writing some of our own. To inspire you, we’ve compiled a list of letter-writing themed books.

The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1887–1888 Vol. 1  is comprised of 154 letters, of which 94 are published for the first time, written from early January to December 22, 1887. These letters mark Henry James’s ongoing efforts to care for his sister, develop his work, strengthen his professional status, build friendships, engage timely political and economic issues, and maximize his income. This is the latest installment in the The Complete Letters of Henry James series.

Red Letters is the story of Liverpool FC’s first title-winning season in thirty years, game by game, in real time, with hopes and expectations tested and altered as the season progresses—through insights in letters exchanged between two avid Liverpool supporters.

Modernity through Letter Writing examines the discursive practices between Native and non-Native writers during the removal era. In this process of written diplomacy, protest, and petitioning, Native writers developed strategies for negotiating the policies of Indian Removal and advocating for their own indigenous nations.

36 Letters is about one family’s separation, personal struggle, and achievement. Joan Sohn found her grandparents’ 36 letters, tucked away for 65 years in a small brown paper bag. When she read them, her family’s story came alive. Of course, there were missing pieces—many of them; and so she began a long labor of love, filling in the gaps to tell a story about people who left their homes for a new start and never returned.

The Pawnee Mission Letters, 1834-1851 illustrates the life of the mission, from the everyday complications of building and maintaining a community far from urban areas, to the navigation of the bureaucratic policies of the federal government and the American Board, to the ideological differences of the Pawnees’ multiple missionaries and the ensuing rift within the community.

There Are No Letters Like Yours begins in 1760, when the 20 year-old Isabelle de Charrière, a Dutch novelist, sent a clandestine letter to a military officer, David-Louis Constant d’Hermenches, a friend of Voltaire, launching a correspondence of some sixteen years that is one of the richest of a whole age of great letter writing. This epistolary dialogue gives us intimate access to the workings of two minds of extraordinary vigor and scope, as well as to the life of eighteenth-century Europe.

Letters of a Civil War Nurse recounts the letters of Cornerlia Hancock, a young Quaker nurse who worked tirelessly to relieve the suffering of soldiers. She served in field and evacuating hospitals, in a contraband camp, and (defying authority) on the battlefield. Her letters to family members are witty, unsentimental, and full of indignation about the neglect of wounded soldiers and black refugees.

Letters of Mari Sandoz includes letters written by Sandoz (author of Old Jules, Cheyenne Autumn, and Crazy Horse, the Strange Man of the Oglalas) over nearly forty years. Mari Sandoz was a tireless researcher, a true storyteller, an artist passionately dedicated to a place little known and a people largely misunderstood. Her letters, edited by Helen Winter Stauffer, reveal extraordinary courage and zest for life.

Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife, 1871-1888 contains the letters of Frances M. A. Roe, with an introduction by Sandra L. Myers, which detail the problems of camp and garrison life with servants, sand, and shortages, and the pleasures of parties and new friends, of hunting, fishing, and camping trips, and of long romps with her dog Hal. Frances Roe’s vivid account of life with the western army is a keen observation of the nineteenth-century.

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