Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Lost Art

Does anyone write letters anymore? Not texting, not IMing, not a short and sweet email. No messages on a Facebook wall, no tweets at 140 characters or less.

Does anyone write real, live, honest-to-goodness letters -- filled with stories and passion and wit?

My husband and I have been debating the Kindle -- I think it might be kind of neat, and he says he will never get one. I recognize now that this must be an extension of the letter writing debate.

So I guess maybe I am romanticizing the whole letter writing thing?

Tell me, what is your take on this? Letters or emails? Kindles or books? I'd love to know what you think.


  1. Indeed it is a lost art. Letter writing is sadly no longer as popular as it had been. Having spent must my adult life far from family and still am I treasured the days letters arrive. And I immediately sat down to answer the letter. Today though I find that e-mail allows me the opportunity to participate in family sooner if not as intimately.

    My book shelves are more room, and so recently, very recently, I purchased kindle because it's compact, easy to travel with for I can carry more books. It will not deter me from purchasing a hard bound book.

    This a wonderful post. I could ponder the times past and present. Thank you! Cathy

  2. I am as guilty as anyone at texting instead of calling to talk to someone, emailing instead of writing a letter, or posting something on FB. However, I fear we as a society are forgetting how to interact with one another on a personal level.

    My son has a Nook and loves it. :o) La

  3. Mary,

    What an timely subject. I have lovely papers and pens. I like e-mail and texting because I do it and my hands hurt more than they used to. I cannot write as fast I think and if I do it is illegible.

    I have a Kindle and so does my husband. We love them. Again my arthritic hands are an issue as far as holding the hardcover best sellers. I love the portability. I still buy hardcovers like cook books and how to books.

    I still love books but space is an issue.


  4. I love to send pretty cards, cards for birthdays, Christmas, encouragement but I never hardly see cards come back to my mailbox.... I enjoy e-mails too but lately Facebook is the only way to go - I hate it, so little by little we are losing touch with family. I love to talk on the phone, talk not tex so little by little no one calls. I think it is so sad to see our world lose the precious skills of commication of friendship and love.

  5. I think it is indeed a lost art. Sadly.

    I was given a nook by my sister. I am a true book lover and will never give up buying books, but the Nook has proved handy for books I want to read but don't want to have permanently on my shelves. It is also great for traveling, because all your reading material can be in one place.

    I think you can have both, but I do have a nagging fear about actual books disappearing someday.


  6. I write more emails and fewer letters these days, but I do still write letters (and also postcards). Since I have physical difficulties writing by hand, I use the computer for letter-writing too. It's mostly a matter of how much the other person uses their email, whether I send my letters by email or print them out and put them in an enevelope. With a few people I exchange frequent shorter emails, which would be hard to keep up by regular mail (especially across the world). With one old friend, we still write letters at least every other week, sometimes weekly - since 25 years!

  7. I don't write letters (except thank-you notes, if that counts) anymore. My handwriting is just awful. But I don't think there is time when I open my mail box that I don't wish there would be a newsy letter in it. My cousin still writes letters, however, they are getting fewer as time passes. This post makes me want to sit down and write a long letter! Thank you for a great reminder.
    Ladybug Creek

  8. Letter writing - since my mother died I have not received snail mail letters. This is the reason the mail can sit in the mailbox for 4-5 days without any urgency on my part to walk the 26 feet down the drive to retreive it.

    I have a sister-in-law who writes lovely emails. Emails that are history of their lives. Emails with funny stories. Emails with feelings about life as it passes. These emails are long and regular. These emails are written in the evening when her "day" work is finished. I am sure if these were not written on the computer that far fewer would ever be written and finished and sent. I treasure these emails and I save them - printed - just like a journal. I try to reciprocate with same.....

    I would enjoy more sister-in-laws.

  9. Dear Mary,

    did you see Wall-E??? The idea is how people had forgotten how to walk, how to touch, how to even interact face to face because they were so glued to the screen. Did you know that the tv and computer actually dull our senses. Childrens' sensory development has been stunted because what they see is flat and what they hear is from one place(yes, even with surround sound.) I'm talking brain development and I'm not talking "maybe". They (children with too much electronics) don't learn how to perceive a bird call that is far off and their eyes are not as good at depth perception. It's more complicated than that but that's the basic gist. Well, I, also, heard that there was something mind altering in the short little blips of information and communication that we mostly experience because of media. It dulls our senses. sigh.

    And, I love it (media, that is) so much, too.

    One of these days I'll blog about my "letter writing party" - no one got what it was about. very sad.

    I love these photos - they make an eloquent argument in my heart, to not forget them - books and letters! The photos touch such a place of nostalgia.

    Love, Katy

  10. Oh one of my favorite subjects!
    I do not own a ...*gasp* cell phone! why would I want to be bothered in my car or in the store, those are my me times. No Kindle...I love walking through the library and browsing the shelves, I love the feel and smell of adds to the story. No cable (do I even need to explain that one?)
    And yes I write letters...most printed from the computer only because I write with a fountain pen and I can write more letters typing than longhand. Still for special letters I do take the time to write with my fountain pen.
    The reason I chose these habits rather than run with the herd? I wanted to SLOW down and enjoy what was left of my life. More technology meant trying to multitask kind of like a dog chasing it's own tail and I wanted to savor each moment!
    That's it, just savor, smell those roses not those electronics...
    Tina xo

  11. We should argue FOR the communications possible, nowadays, too. WHAT an exchange of ideas. There are studies that show that it really helps many women's psyche and emotional well being to be so connected. =]

  12. That's funny, I was just talking to my Fiancé about this. I feel like people are getting further away from each other with all of these advances in technology. I've been wanting a Kindle too, but the truth is that I think would miss holding the actual book. I have always loved books, especially older ones that have that "old book smell." Even if I bought a Kindle, I think I would continue to purchase real books, just because. And as far as letter writing, I have always loved to write, so I still send letters and cards as often as possible. I wish others did the same!


  13. I write letters! Or I should say, I type letters (as my carpel tunnel won't allow my hand to write for very long, but my typing skills are A-one!). I write periodically throughout the year, I have an annual Xmas letter I send, and I've just started a correspondence with a new penpal.

    As for Kindle vs books? I adore the feel of a good book between my hands or stretched out on my lap. But I can well see the sense of a Kindle for plane trips and the such. Still, how many Kindles can you put on your bookshelf? And how much would it cost?

  14. I love getting a letter in the mail and it is very rare when one arrives. So sad. I love the idea of holding it my hands, seeing the handwriting and the personality of the person who did the writing. It's books for me. We've thought about the Kindle, but you still have to pay for the book. I know I'd be saving trees, but I'm just not ready to give the tactile joy of reading, turning the page.

  15. I guess it is the age old debate - when new comes along, the older generations mourn the loss of something - the younger generations embrace it and move us all forward.

    I enjoy a long chatty email from my cousin (with lots of photos) as much as I enjoyed her hand written letters of the past. We certainly communicate more with emails - and faster and sooner.

    I like the story of when the typewriter was invented and ladies began using it in offices instead of pen and ink. Masses of people decried the use of the typewriter - said it was the end of civilization as we know it - said that women would become hunchbacks and their heads would waggle back and forth from lack of muscle use and their hands would become useless claws. And now look at us - communicating our thoughts instantly because of the invention of the typewriter and many wonderful inventions since.

    I like the holiday letters we still get from our friends in the mail, but also love the email versions as much - with fancy decorations and more photos than usual (and we save money).

  16. For me it will always be letters and books. It's not just the words and stories, it's the feel of the paper in my hands. The smell of the ink. The knowledge that someone spent some time of their busy day thinking of me, or I of them. Caring enough to take the time to choose the paper, think of the stories, and share their life with me. For me, it will always be letters and books.

  17. Mary,
    What a controversial post!
    YES! ! ! I still write letters!
    In fact, I have two penpals, one in Chicago, IL.; the other in Richfield, PA.I would like to say that I write them as regularly as I did in the beginning of our relationships that started 8 years ago. . .that is not the case. I do try, try , at least once a month to get a letter off to them.
    I love opening the mailbox and seeing their handwritten envelopes and know that I must make a cup of tea and set down for a long leisure read. And, yes, at this moment. . .I need to write to BOTH of them. . .and it is scheduled into "my time" next week!
    Thank you for this post! And for the reminder not to lose this 'art of writing'.

  18. No Kindle or Nook for me (I like having a book in my hands), but I do love listening to audiobooks when I paint. I download them for free from the library onto an IPod. I can also plug that into my car.
    I do still write notes, not long letters.

  19. I still write notes and letters to friends and family. There is always something special about getting one in the always lifts your spirit and seems more personal than an email (which I also use on occasion because of the quickness involved.)

  20. I write a lot of notes...long ones. I dislike e-mail but use it and text with my teen. No Kindle for me as I love the feel of books. I also like books around me. hugs♥olive

  21. I don't write letters, but I send cards. I have an uncle with cancer in Louisiana, and I send him cards at least weekly, and sometimes twice a week. When someone comes to my mind, I just a quick little note on a cute card and stick it in the mail. But, I can't tell you the last time someone sent ME a card. I bought a package of 100 really colorful, assorted blank note cards at TJ Maxx for $7.99, that's less than ten cents per card. A small price to pay for a personal touch. Yes, I e-mail and I'm on facebook, but there is NOTHING like opening up a real envelope and knowing someone put forth the effort to actually send something. Just my thoughts :). Have a blessed day!

  22. i wish i did still write letters but alas none of my friends do....heck, i'm doing good if i get an e-mail from them.

    beautiful shots

  23. I do like to write letters, but why did you have to ask if they are filled with stories, passion and wit? Not too likely. I also think that I will stick with a book over Kindle, but then there was a time when I was sticking to a landline over a cell phone so who knows where we'll be in another few years?

  24. I seriously love to write and receive letters. In fact, I've recently joined a penpal project and I regularly send postcards around the world. It is a lost art!

  25. BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!! I'm with your husband, I'll never own a kindle, to me it's just one more screen to stare at. However, I will admit to having bookshelves that are bursting. It's just so hard to part with them.......

  26. I don't write letters much anymore. Although I never did much before the internet. I still write cards, but that's not full of stories, etc. My husband and daughter LOVE their Kindles. But, they will never totally take the place of a book in your hand.

  27. ...letter writing of course...nothing like the anticipation of holding the letter with your name on it...thinking of the person who wrote the treasure inside... my family was one of letter writers...and i would not trade letters written during the second world war for anything...i read about ten years ago...that the hottest collectible for our great grandchildren will be handwritten notes and letters...mine are going to be rich beyond measure...just as i am now...

  28. Email has it's place but receiving a letter is an event now! Always and forever books. I can't give up the paper.

  29. My eldest granddaughter wrote me a letter last year in 2nd grade when they were studying how to address and the proper way to lay out a letter. My daughter has also taught each of the children how to write a thank you note and they ALWAYS write and send them when they receive a gift from anyone. It's my opinion that more mothers should take the time and teach their children this lovely and most courteous way of responding to people with true manners.


  30. Letter writing first. But the last time I wrote a letter several months ago. I'm not at all ambiguous about this. Letters convey tears that have fallen, sweat from battle and daily toil. Clippings are sent with them and of course there are the stamps. I have my father's letters from World War II and upon them I know his hands have rested while he composed. You can't get that from the computer. Time is fleeting, things change and some of them are not so good.

  31. I enjoyed your post today.... I gotta say, I'm all about emailing but I sure do love the look and feel of a book...and the smell....ya know that "paper" smell in a book store....unless they come up with that, I'll be turning pages...

  32. Ok, I'll tell you my take on it in just a moment. I need to catch my breath first at all the sumptuous photography here.
    I love the art of letter writing but I only do it for thank you notes, which is sad. I think my letter writing is done nowadays on my blog. I still do it, but not on fine thick paper in longhand. Because that's how it should be done.

  33. I really don't write letters anymore, but I do write thank you notes! As for the Kindle, I like real books...but I also like gadgets. I think I want both.

  34. I spend a lot of time on the computer and internet, but my eyes are not happy for it. Nor my neck and shoulders. There is something about being curled up in a big comfy chair with a book in hand, that no device will likely match. As for letter writing, I have been typing for so long, I've almost lost my ability to write legibly! :-)

    Mary - Your photos are breathtaking - magazine quality!

  35. Because of the expediency and convenience of email these days, I stopped writing letters. But I admit that letters have all the emotions embossed in them. You can really feel the effort of the writer. I miss those writing days..

  36. hand written letters are my favourite. i love to receive them. there is something so special about someone taking the time to write down something from their heart. lost art...i would say so. can't hardly get my children to write thank you notes.
    i like the idea of having a kindle as long as your library is full of the real thing.
    happy september.

  37. Well, although convenience does win out from time to time (and price) I must say that I would prefer a nice letter and a book to an email or kindle. I also must say that though this is my preference, I will take either when it means a friend was thinking of me!

  38. Hand writing a letter is something I stopped doing...and now wish I continued. While cleaning out my sister's belongings I found stacks of letters from her days in the Peace Corps...I learned much about myself by re-reading the letters I wrote to her....and about my mother and grandmother thru their letters...

    I would prefer a book to a Kindle but I have a feeling that as they perfect the electronic books I may be persuaded otherwise:)

  39. I miss letter writing, too. It's surely a lost art. I'm definitely old-fashioned, and have embraced technology rather reluctantly. I have yet to text anyone (I don't even know how!). It would be very hard not to use email, but I will never never get a kindle unless all the books have gone. What can possibly match the look and feel and smell of books? My house would look nearly empty if there were no books in it!

  40. Hi Mary, what a great post.

    I love to hold a book so don't if I will go the other route, I think the Kindle would be neat for traveling.

    As for writing notes, I love nothing better than receiving mail, so I try to write often. As a matter of fact I just got some really cute notecards from Fififlowers,com, they're all different shoes, I just got them in the MAIl and LOVE them. If you have not been to her blog pls visit she is a doll.

    I can't wait to go back and read what all your other peeps wrote...

    Have a wonderful week-end, we in the NE are having some delicious weather !!!

    All the best,
    xo Kathy :)

  41. My Daddy died this past June. Losing a loved one is so very difficult. I find myself treasuring bits and pieces of what he left behind in a way that I never did when he was alive. Some of my treasures are the many letters he wrote to my Mom and my Grandparents while he travelled extensively abroad for business. Handwritten letters on air mail stationary filled with fascinating stories of all the wonders he experienced and posted with beautiful stamps of foreign lands. Emails, texts and IMs can never replace the permanency of handwritten letters.

    Susan and Bentley

  42. Hi Mary
    I posted about letter writing myself awhile back and do believe it is being lost to our electronic world of today. So much technology to make things happen quicker.
    I've pondered the Kindle too but I like a book in my hand and I also like to pass it on to a friend after reading.

  43. Mary,
    As you know I love old books, so the idea of a kindle just doesn't appeal to me. I love the feel of an old leather bound book. A beautiful cover to entice me to pick up and read. I love the idea of collecting groups of books on the same subject. I just am too visual to handle a kindle.

    Letter writing, it is funny that you wrote about this today...I just wrote a post about a treasured letter from a dear friend. When I was in Hong Kong the Internet was in it's infancy stages, so I wrote letters all the time. A close friend of mine kept all of the letters that I wrote to her during those five years. I have been thinking about writing letters to friends again. I just gave my friend the book The Lost Art of Letter Writing for her Birthday.

    A letter like a good old book seems to be something to cherish. I cannot help but notice the amazing lost art of Penmanship in ephemera.

    I guess my old age is showing, but you have mentioned two of my favorite things.


  44. I have a dear friend who is several years younger than me. She hates the internet and still puts pictures in a photo album! She never types out letters not that she couldn't but finds the personal letter writing so much more.....personal. I agree, although personal letter writing does not have spell check....and my writing gets ahead of my penmanship! lol

  45. I have a friend who refused to do e-mail and writes the most wonderful letters. She continually sends me stationary and note cared and I must confess, I love writing on paper with ink.

    For me, techie that I am, there is till nothing like the heft of book or the pleasure of turning pages. There is a smell to books that kindle just will never replicate.

  46. Letters and books! I love them both. But, I will admit that e-mail is a wonderful way to stay in touch almost instantly, and I love hearing from my daughter, who's away at college, that way. She sends the sweetest e-mails! But, I mail her cards too, the old-fashioned way, and it makes her day to get mail in her mail box! I love receiving something personal that's not a bill!
    Great photos, so romantic and dreamy!
    Heidi - Heart and Home

  47. You must of added more images.. Well letter writting is gone almost. Email has taken over and so has the FB is my view.
    I love cards the most. The best gift I could get or give.

  48. Kindle? Probably never, although it would be handy for travel. I enjoy flipping back and forth in a book and scrolling isn't at all the same thing.
    Letter writing is a disappearing art. I have a pen pal with whom I correspond regularly. Lovely writing paper is more and more difficult to find and at $1 a stamp, email is definitely cheaper, but nothing beats the arrival of a letter, the opening of the envelope and the settling in for a good read. Words on a screen just aren't the same!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!