Reading List: Sincerely Yours…

Letters1Words in Air: the Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
“Robert Lowell once remarked in a letter to Elizabeth Bishop that “you ha[ve] always been my favorite poet and favorite friend.” The feeling was mutual. Bishop said that conversation with Lowell left her feeling “picked up again to the proper table-land of poetry,” and she once begged him, “Please never stop writing me letters–they always manage to make me feel like my higher self (I’ve been re-reading Emerson) for several days.” Neither ever stopped writing letters, from their first meeting in 1947 when both were young, newly launched poets until Lowell’s death in 1977. The substantial, revealing–and often very funny–interchange that they produced stands as a remarkable collective achievement, notable for its sustained conversational brilliance of style, its wealth of literary history, its incisive snapshots and portraits of people and places, and its delicious literary gossip, as well as for the window it opens into the unfolding human and artistic drama of two of America’s most beloved and influential poets.”

The Letters of Robert Lowell
“One of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, Robert Lowell was also a prolific letter writer who corresponded with many of the remarkable writers and thinkers of his day, including Elizabeth Bishop, Ezra Pound, Hannah Arendt, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Edmund Wilson. These letters, conversations in writing, document the evolution of Lowell’s work and illuminate another side of the intimate life that was the subject of so many of his poems: his deep friendships with other writers; the manic-depressive illness he struggled to endure and understand; his marriages to three prose writers; and his engagement with politics and the antiwar movement of the 1960s.”

White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson by Brenda Wineapple
“White Heat is the first book to portray the remarkable relationship between America’s most beloved poet and the fiery abolitionist who first brought her work to the public. As the Civil War raged, an unlikely friendship was born between the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a literary figure who ran guns to Kansas and commanded the first Union regiment of black soldiers. When Dickinson sent Higginson four of her poems he realized he had encountered a wholly original genius; their intense correspondence continued for the next quarter century. In White Heat Brenda Wineapple tells an extraordinary story about poetry, politics, and love, one that sheds new light on her subjects and on the roiling America they shared.”

Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer
“Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate Donald and the…, a children’s story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Gorey’s shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Gorey’s drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969.”

Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher
“This spectacular collection of more than 125 letters offers a never-before-seen glimpse of the events and people of history—the brightest and best, the most notorious, and the endearingly everyday. Entries include a transcript of the letter; a short contextual introduction; and, in 100 cases, a captivating facsimile of the letter itself. The artfulness of Shaun Usher’s eclectic arrangement creates a reading experience rich in discovery. Mordant, hilarious, poignant, enlightening—surprise rewards each turn of the page.”

My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams edited by Margaret A. Hogan and C. James Taylor
“In 1762, John Adams penned a flirtatious note to “Miss Adorable,” the 17-year-old Abigail Smith. In 1801, Abigail wrote to wish her husband a safe journey as he headed home to Quincy after serving as president of the nation he helped create. The letters that span these nearly forty years form the most significant correspondence — and reveal one of the most intriguing and inspiring partnerships — in American history.”

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto by Joan Reardon
“This dishy and delightful, never-before-published correspondence between America’s queen of food, Julia Child, and her confidante and mentor Avis DeVoto, shows not only the blossoming of a lifelong friendship, but also an America on the verge of political, social, and gastronomic transformation.”

The John Lennon Letters edited and with an introduction by Hunter Davies
“This groundbreaking collection of almost 300 letters and postcards has been edited and annotated by Hunter Davies, whose authorized biography The Beatles (1968) was published to great acclaim. With unparalleled knowledge of Lennon and his contemporaries, Davies reads between the lines of the artist’s words, contextualizing them in Lennon’s life and using them to reveal the man himself.”

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley
“The Mitfords offers an unparalleled look at these privileged siblings through their own unabashed correspondence. Spanning the twentieth century, the magically vivid letters of the legendary Mitfords constitute a superb social and historical chronicle and an intimate portrait of the stormy but enduring relationships between six beautiful, gifted, and radically different women.”

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters edited by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley
“This extraordinary annotated collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s private correspondence offers unique insight into one of the world’s most popular authors. Detailing Conan Doyle’s life from his beginnings as a country doctor, to his struggle with the success of Sherlock Holmes and his ultimate calling as the foremost spokesman for Spiritualism, Conan Doyle’s letters expose his innermost thoughts on literature, world events, and matters of the heart.”

Lovecraft At Last by H.P. Lovecraft and Willis Conover; foreword by Harold Taylor
” Here, in Lovecraft at Last, emerges a man who belies the former to reveal the latter. In 1936, fifteen-year-old Willis Conover began corresponding with Lovecraft — about art, culture, ethics, architecture, religion — and their friendship continued until the end of the author’s life. Conover collected and edited the letters, producing this rare book (only 3,000 copies of the original edition were ever printed) that illuminates the writer in a new light. And through Conover’s eyes, we see Lovecraft whole.”

To the Letter by Simon Garfield
“Few things are as exciting—and potentially life-changing—as discovering an old letter. And while etiquette books still extol the practice, letter writing seems to be disappearing amid a flurry of e-mails, texting, and tweeting. The recent decline in letter writing marks a cultural shift so vast that in the future historians may divide time not between BC and AD but between the eras when people wrote letters and when they did not. So New York Times bestselling author Simon Garfield asks: Can anything be done to revive a practice that has dictated and tracked the progress of civilization for more than five hundred years?”

Letters2Letters from Skye : a novel by Jessica Brockmole
“March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive. June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.”

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
“It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm, charming, feisty love affair.”

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
“January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.”

Possession by A.S. Byatt
“Winner of England’s Booker Prize and the literary sensation of the year, Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire—from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.”
*Possession was turned into a feature film starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart and Jeremy Northam

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
“Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives. Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he say . . .?”

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
“Rosie and Alex are destined for each other, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, they are separated as teenagers when Alex and his family relocate from Dublin to Boston.
Like two ships always passing in the night, Rosie and Alex stay friends, and though years pass, the two remain firmly attached via emails and letters. Heartbroken, they learn to live without each other. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel o f several missed opportunities, Rosie and Alex learn that fate isn’t quite done with them yet.

The Love Letter by Cathleen Schine
“Independent, irresistible Helen MacFarquhar is the owner of a bookstore in an idyllic seaside town in New England. A happily divorced mother who enjoys a playful relationship with her customers, Helen’s life is turned upside down when an anonymous letter arrives, penned by an unknown lover.”

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
“It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more — though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was — lovely and amazing and deeply flawed — can she begin to discover her own path.”

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson
“Grief-stricken by a recent tragedy, Jennifer returns to the resort village where she grew up to help her beloved grandmother. There, Jennifer will discover new meaning in life and experience not one, but two of the most amazing love stories ever.”

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
“An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life—until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. “Dear John,” the letter read…and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love—and face the hardest decision of his life.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s