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Books About Letters: "Letters of Note"

This March the Book About Letters is Shaun Usher's 'Letters of Note' . A must-have for the letter lover's bookshelf, this anthology includes letters from Galileo, Flannery O'Connor, Katherine Hepburn, Sol LeWitt, and many, many more. Read on for more about the Letters of Note series and why we're such big fans of it here at Flea Market Love Letters! (Hint: It's because it's brilliant!)

If you're a regular reader of the Books About Letters series you know that in each installment we ask: Is this a book about letters? Absolutely, yes! Usher's 'Letters of Note' series -- which includes a healthy newsletter and online presence, also -- started in 2009. In 2015 a crowdfunding initiative brought 'Letters of Note' to shelves, and 'More Letters of Note' joined in 2013. In 2013 the Letters Live organization launched and in 2023 they celebrated their 10th anniversary -- which Flea Market Love Letters attended!

I have an affinity for this series not just because it is a stunning accomplishment in the advocacy for the handwritten letter, but more for how it played a part in my COVID story. During the early days of lockdown in 2020 I set myself a challenge to read one letter a day from this anthology and its sequel. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a copy for my dad who was living in the U.S. while I was in Ireland, and the uncertainty of when we would see one another again was at an all time high. 'Letters of Note' was our personal book club book, and we would text every few days with thoughts on the week's letters. At a time when routine played a huge part in my mental health, having 'Letters of Note' to flip to each day opened doors into worlds to explore, while I was otherwise indoors.

That's why I was overcome when in November 2023 I got to see Benedict Cumberbatch perform Sol LeWitt's letter to Eva Hesse.

"DO" which is 33rd in the 125 letters of the (now that I understand it, out of print edition) of Letters of Note struck me with such intensity in the grey days of lockdown that to revisit it -- and hear Cumberbatch perform it -- gave me pause for all that had come to be in the 2.5+ years since COVID. And for the community that has blossomed around Flea Market Love Letters in that time. I've been a letter collector for almost 3x as long as I have been a letter writer but during those long days of lockdown I picked up a pen and found a new chapter of my story, thanks to letters.

In 2020, Usher released a series of 'mini' books, collections of letters on themes like 'Grief', 'Dogs', and 'Space' -- among others. During the summer of 2021 I hosted a read along of the 'Art' collection on the Flea Market Love Letters Instagram.

And as if my adoration of the series weren't clear enough already, at my wedding in 2022 a friend read Steinbeck's letter to his son on love as part of the ceremony from Usher's 'Love'.

But this 'Books About Letters' is about the initial anthology that started it all. This anthology is beautifully produced, clearly a labor of love. With full color scans of many of the letters alongside their transcriptions you can study the handwriting and flourishes of the reproductions. An absolute piece of art for the individual who appreciates language, letters, and history. Usher's newsletter is a great update direct to your inbox with letters relating to various themes and events. It is always a delight to receive and if you enjoy the Flea Market Love Letters newsletter, we recommend the Letters of Note newsletter! Happy reading -- and writing.

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