In the era of texting, Twitter and Facebook, getting a letter in the mail has become an unexpected, blissful experience — one that brings feelings of love and kinship to its receiver.

What has historically been the main form of communication is now viewed as passé due to the technological, instant communications of today.

Sankovitch’s book explores the endless world of letters from bygone days through correspondence between, for example, Jack the Ripper and the police, and between Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens.

While digging in her backyard, Sankovitch uncovered an old trunk containing a trove of letters, which became the inspiration to write this “biography” of letters.  Although most of the letters were written in the early 1900s by a Princeton student, James Seligman, to his mother, the letters became the launching pad for research into the history of letters and their treasured significance.

Author Sankovitch sets out to understand the spirit and potency of long-forgotten stories bound up in letters. There is a certain power in letters that is absent within the boundaries of text messages and email.

Holding a tangible object in your hand connects you to the sender through the aroma of the paper and ink and through their particular, quirky handwriting. Upon reading the book, perhaps you, too, will recognize the benefits of letter writing by taking up pen and paper to connect to someone on a whole new level.

Sankovitch reminds us “…there is more than enough happiness in the world, isn’t there? We just have to acknowledge it, and what better way than through a letter?”

Information on her books and reviews can be found on her blog


Interview with Nina Sankovitch:

GW: 1) What initiated your interest in writing?

NS: I have always been interested in writing, but even more interested in reading! During my year of reading a book a day, I wrote every single day — I wrote a review of the book I’d read the day before. I wanted to share what I had learned from the book or liked about or what I didn’t like about it with readers of my blog,

GW: 2) Have you ever thought of writing a novel?

NS: My blog originally began as a way to encourage reading by adults for pleasure, and its motto was “Great good comes from reading great books.”  For me, that turned out to be true in so many ways. I learned to live with my sorrow over the death of my sister, and how to carry her with me always, and live in joy, appreciating the small and big moments of life — and always enjoying moments spent reading!  I also wrote my first book about my year of reading and what I learned — “Tolstoy & the Purple Chair” — and was able to continue writing books, with my third one due to come out in 2016.

GW: 3) If you could choose one of the letters you have found/read, which would be your favorite and why?

NS: My favorite letters are the ones written by my children and my husband. Through the kids’ cards and letters, I can keep them young beside me — even as they grow up. And my husband’s letters are both very funny and very loving — perfect for making me feel better when I read them over again. But my favorite letter that I found? I have so many — but I do love the letters of James Seligman, because he started me down the path of looking at the entire history of letter writing. He was so funny: “Your letter and your check couldn’t have possibly been more welcome … If you send a check with every letter, write as often as you want, twice a day if necessary.”

GW: 4) Could you talk a little about your next upcoming writing project?

NS: My next book is about the Lowells of Massachusetts, from the 1600s through the 1900s — they were a fascinating, dynamic family of Puritan origins, and then great patriots during the Revolution and then [became] a leading family of the Boston Brahmin. Their story is the history of New England, both in terms of crises and successes, and offers a unique twist on the American dream.

GW: 5) Who are some of your favorite authors?

NS: My favorite authors are Nadine Gordimer, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Louise Penny, Haruki Murakami, Anne Cleves … to mention just a few.

GW: 6) Finally, what advice would you give aspiring writers?

NS: The best advice I can give aspiring writers is to write every day, every single day. Don’t wait for inspiration, set goals and meet them. Write everyday — you won’t keep it all but it is all good practice. And read every day, if you want to write well — you learn so much just about writing by reading lots of different types of books.

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