In preparation for my Month of Letters which begins tomorrow, I checked a couple of books out of the library to get me motivated.
The Pleasures of Staying in Touch by Jennifer Williams
This book published in 1998 in conjunction with Victoria magazine is full of lovely illustrations of lettery things - stamps and stationery - and includes quotes from famous letter-writers such as Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, and Colette. There are also examples of wording for thoughtful thank you notes, sincere sympathy cards, and friendly connections.
Writing Notes with a Personal Touch by Daria Price Bowman and Maureen LaMarca
Also published in 1998, this wee book (70 pages) has photographs, quotes, and guidance on sending, among others, notes of congratulations, regrets, and how to word invitations. The final chapter, Extra Special Notes and Letters, outlines the many opportunities there are to write a personal handwritten note: words of welcome to a new neighbor or as an accompaniment to a gift rather than just a card with your name on it.
The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication by Margaret Shepherd
The author of this 2002 book goes into much detail about writing letters - from what materials to use (good ones) to salutations (don't misspell the recipient's name) to the closing sentiments. For the sometimes difficult part in between the hello and the goodbye, she offers advice such as how to end a relationship, write a fan letter, request help, and say you are sorry.
All three are easy and quick to read and offer some good advice for making slow correspondence a pleasurable habit.
I will end with a quote from The Art of the Handwritten Note:
A handwritten note is like dining by candlelight instead of flicking on the lights, like making a gift instead of ordering a product, like taking a walk instead of driving. Handwritten notes will add a lot to your life. You can still use the telephone or the Web for the daily chores of staying in touch, but for the words that matter, it's courteous, classy, caring and civilized to pick up a pen.