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Letters ... as a Genre, and Other Things

Small letter mo

Here we are, mid-month in the Month of Letters challenge.  I'm keeping up . . . sending out cards and little notes every day so far.  And although I'm not really writing any letters this month (I'm more apt to do the quick note and card variety of correspondence these days), I am thinking about letters quite a lot.

And I have these random letter-related thoughts to share with you today:


As you know, I read a lot.  And I've discovered, over the years, that I really enjoy epistolary novels -- or narratives told through a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, etc.


I think it all started with Flowers for Algernon, a book I first read - and loved! - in seventh grade.   I think there's just something fascinating . . . with peeking into other people's diary entries or private letters . . . even if it's just fiction.  For me, that format just brings a sense of connection and "realness" to a novel.    Over the years, there have been many, many epistolary novels I've loved:  Carrie, Dracula, The Screwtape Letters, The Stone Diaries.  And, more recently, Where'd You Go Bernadette? and Frances and Bernard.

How about you?  Do you enjoy epistolary novels?  What are your favorites?


What do you do with all the fun cards and lovely notes you receive in the mail?

I usually display a few favorite cards on my bulletin boards at home or at my office (because I really like to surround myself with lovely images and special notes).  And then, I save the rest by making little "card binders."


I just gather my cards, punch holes in them with a hole punch, and thread them on little binder rings I pick up at the office supply store.


Sometimes I group the cards by theme (if there's a big "event" that has generated a lot of cards, for example), but mostly I just assemble random cards together.  It's easier to save special cards when they're bound together in a manageable way, and I'm much more apt to take a look at them when they're in tidy little groups.


How do you keep track of cards and notes?


I have a "thing" for stationery.  Somehow, I'm always drawn to the paper goods at any store, and my supply of greeting cards and note cards far exceeds my letter-writing habit!


I keep a little basket stocked with notecards, stamps, and return address labels so I'm always prepared when the letter-writing bug bites me.

I even use an old-school address book that I've had for nearly 20 years!


I think this is why the Month of Letters is always so appealing to me!  I like to read letters . . . and keep letters . . . and collect stationery and addresses to write letters.



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We are definitely twins in this department! My stationary stash equals my yarn stash! I may steal your binder idea..that's a great idea!


I love paper and stationary too but don't have much around. And regarding epistolary, I like the format too. The one that comes to mind right now is Summer Sisters. Have you read it?




I completely heart stationery. and stamps. and letters! two other favorites - Griffin and Sabine (the book has envelopes and letters you pull out to read) and The Guernsey Literary Club (or something like that). I love your basket for notecards!


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a favorite, somewhat recent epistolary novel. When I was teaching, our American lit text included Abraham Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby. It was an inspiation for a lesson and renewed letter writing. I have a few precious letters from my favorite grandmother which are priceless to me--they are a wonderful reminder of the power of the letter.


Aha! I've seen that binder idea before, and I *must* do that! What a great way to keep/organize all those cards and letters that I can't bear to toss.


I keep birthday and Christmas cards we receive but they are in shoe boxes! You're plan is better by far.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a favorite...it is full of letters going back and forth between the characters. I loved it.


I love (and still have) the Griffin and Sabine books. Pulling out the letters and cards and touching their mail bring the story alive. It's too bad they're making it into a movie.
Your idea is genius! You are so organized in a creative and beautiful way. I have a stack of cards and now I'm going to find some rings!


Great binder idea I will be imitating here. Thanks for sharing! I've been working on organizing photos, which is nearly done. Cards are next. BTW I love a good letter and wish I had friends who wrote instead of texting. For some reason I think I remember the book A Woman of Independent Means being all diary entries. A wonderful read.


I'm going to steal your binder idea, I think.


I, too, am a lover of stationery and own an ample supply to write with and have kept many cards and letters over the years. Your organizing idea is genius! I will be putting it to use. My sister and I lived 3000 miles apart when our children were young, and the first two children were the same age - within a couple of months of each other. She went on to have a third, but I did not keep up. This was the 80's and 90's - no cell phones, email, Facebook, etc.; with the time zone difference and the expense of long distance calls, we wrote LOTS of letters to each other. Unknown to me, she had kept most of our correspondence and gave me my letters to her a few years ago. They are the diary I didn't have time to keep! You have given me the solution to organizing them! And like several other commenters, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is my favorite epistolary novel

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