Kiri's Reviews > To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing

To the Letter by Simon Garfield
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it was amazing

Outstanding! This is an extensively researched yet eminently readable story of the development (and now the decline) of the hand-written letter. Along the way there are lots of fascinating vignettes with historical figures (already I feel I know Napoleon FAR better than I ever would have, had I not read bits of his letters to Josephine) - many of them about love and/or war. The book itself is a love letter to the letter, but beyond nostalgia, it raises interesting questions about what the rise of email, texting, and social media mean for how we connect and communicate with other humans - and whether all that activity can ever be preserved and treasured by our descendants the way letters are.

I could have done without the interleaved letters between a WWII soldier in Italy and his sudden sweetheart (they fall in love through letters) at home in London. Sounds romantic, but the letters themselves are cringe-worthy. I think love letters often are sweet treasures for their intended recipients and pretty hard to stomach for everyone else :)

Some favorite quotes:
* Ted Hughes (poet laureate) on why he refused to type anything: "maybe the crucial element in handwriting is that the hand is simultaneously drawing."
* "... that "what we stole on our holidays" feeling you sometimes get from visiting the British Museum." That's exactly what gave me the creeps when I visited it! Thanks for putting this into words!
* Never read history without maps to hand. [Brilliant advice I will try to follow.]

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Reading Progress

June 10, 2018 – Shelved
June 10, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
June 14, 2018 – Started Reading
July 1, 2018 – Finished Reading

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