Reading letters by the fire.

Pippin and The Professor gave us a book for Christmas, Letters of Note, letters of notea compilation by Shaun Usher, whom I might call Usher the Gusher, he is that enthusiastic a promoter of his book. I wish he would let the letters speak for themselves, but his glowing commentary doesn’t detract too much from the delightful pastime of reading the letters.

It’s the best kind of browsing book, and makes me want to dig up and display cherished letters I have been blessed to receive over the years from relatives and friends. It also makes me want to write more letters myself…I actually should be writing some Christmas thank-yous right now!

This evening I’m very tired in body and mind, and am so happy to have such reading material — it could only be improved by being in two volumes so that a weary woman could more comfortably hold one while sitting in a straight-backed chair by the fire. The wind is blowing icily here these days, and it seems that windy cold is better than still because it is chasing the pollutants away and making it o.k. for us to burn wood.

Nixon letter from boy crp

So far I have read at least a couple dozen letters including some from children to government leaders, e.g. Fidel Castro to FDR, and the one pictured above, in a very different spirit; letters from widows and widowers to their deceased spouses, e.g Richard Feynman and Katherine Hepburn;  and a letter from Clementine Churchill to her husband advising him to rise above his stressful situation and be a nicer man (below).

Clementine to Winst crp

Many of the letters are shown in a facsimile of their original typed or handwritten form, like this one from Ray Bradbury responding to a letter from someone who had concern about the effects of robots on society.

Ray Bradbury letter - robots

One of the most compelling so far is from Lucy Thurston, who endured a mastectomy without any anesthetic. In the 19th century she was a missionary from Massachusetts to Hawaii along with her husband. After the surgery in 1855 she lived another 21 years. This letter of which I show a small part is to her youngest daughter:

mastectomy report

mastectomy survivor
Mary Thurston

The book includes 125 letters, but when I run out I can go to Usher’s website, also called Letters of Note, where 900 missives await my discovery. Some of those no doubt are printed in the book, but that still leaves 775….

Going now to stoke the fire.

11 thoughts on “Reading letters by the fire.

  1. Ahhh.. I wanted to go get that book this season too. Glad to hear your thoughts on it and to catch glimpses of its contents. Loved that letter to Pres. Nixon from the 8-year-old lad.

    I love writing letters, but don’t do the old-fashioned kind as much as I used to before emails and e-cards became so well established. There is something quite special about receiving a note and holding it it your hands to read it.

    Now… here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year… and a good rest today as you read today.

    Blessings and a big hug,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Gretchen, this was a wonderful share! Thank you!Right now I am caring for a friend dying of cancer of the breast. She has survived for 7 years after diagnosis by an iron will and taking pills that would choke a horse. Now her time is nigh and I also am weary in body and spirit, as I endeavor to read often from the scriptures to sooth her back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. Praise God for His Word!! It sooths me also and comforts us both. I am merely assisting her daughter, really, so she can sleep. She is “on duty” 24/7 by choice, so my one or 2 nights a week do help, though I don’t consider it either enough or particularly worthy of note! But your share really uplifted me today. I am in the process of taking up pen and paper and continueing my gg grandfathers biography in the New Year. Blessing on you and Bill. You are prayed for often. Leslie

    Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2014 06:19:21 +0000 To:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading other people’s letters. Especially C.S. Lewis! I also have a book of William Cowper’s letters that I look forward to reading. The graphic description of the mastectomy is really something! Can you imagine? Happy New Year to you and yours, Gretchen! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I love letters in books. This one looks wonderful. I enjoyed reading them on your blog.

    I have loved books like Dear Enemy and Daddy Long Legs and my other favorite is Stepping Heavenward by Elisabeth Prentess. I think this one would be wonderful. Have a lovely day and a blessed New Year.


  5. We can learn so much from these letters. I hurt while reading the account of Lucy Thurston during her surgery. I cannot even imagine. God’s JOY and PEACE be yours in the new year.


  6. Happy New Year, Gretchen! I love letters and I’ve loved visiting the Letters of Note blog from time to time. I didn’t know a collection was out–I’m going to go see if my library has it!



  7. I love letters too!! My husband was just telling me of a Saint’s letters…St. Boniface I believe… 🙂 …. I do hope you can regain some strength and warmth. We pray daily for you and sending LOVE…


  8. Oh, I enjoyed this post and excerpts from your book. I enjoy seeing how people communicate and hopefully learning from it. I hope you are feeling rested now. Blessings, Leslie


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