E-mail, snail mail, junk mail, mistake mail…no matter what the format, letters have always been at the center of how we communicate. They can be casual; romantic; secret; public; heartfelt; helpful; or, sure, cause general chaos, but—as we’ve learned from books like Jenny Han’s TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE and Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY—they also can kick-start a great story. If you loved those, here’s a list of more books that fit perfectly on a bookshelf or in a mailbox.
Sincerely, Your Bookshelf: 8 Books of Love Letters, E-mails, and Postscripts
Set in World War II London, DEAR MRS. BIRD follows Emmeline Lake, an aspiring war correspondent who answers an advertisement for a job at a city newspaper, hoping for her big break. Instead she is asked to assist the advice columnist. Though she is told to answer only simple and straightforward letters, Emmy is drawn to the heartfelt requests for help from people experiencing wartime struggles, and she begins answering them in secret.
Gerry and Holly are childhood sweethearts, destined to spend their lives together, until the unthinkable happens and Holly is left devastated, facing the rest of her life alone. That is, until her 30th birthday, when letters begin to arrive from Gerry. Each contain a memory, reassurance, and challenge to help her get through each month of her new life, and is always signed “P.S. I Love You.” Ahern’s novel is a heartwarming story that reminds us life goes on—and that we always carry with us the people who matter most.
First published in 1970, this classic love story is a collection of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used book dealer on London’s most literary street, Charing Cross Road. What began as a simple exchange and shared love of books evolved into a twenty-year, life-changing bond that has captivated readers for decades.
It all began with a letter inquiring about secondhand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the staid and proper Frank Doel of Marks & Company, a relationship blossoms into a warm, charming, feisty love affair.
Beth and Jennifer know that somebody in their company monitors the contents of their work e-mail, but that doesn’t stop them from sending hilarious notes back and forth, documenting their lives in and out of the office. What they don’t know is that Lincoln, the office’s Internet security officer, is reading everything—and falling in love with Beth. But what can he say?
Annie loves her boyfriend, Duncan, and he is obsessed with Tucker Crowe, a reclusive singer-songwriter who disappeared from public view decades ago. Fed up with Duncan’s obsession, she decides to write a bad review of his most beloved album, Juliet, online—and to her shock, Tucker responds. As they strike up a conversation, a connection is forged between two lonely people looking for a fresh start that’s equal parts romantic and hilarious.
A love story for the digital age, Shah and Chatham’s novel is centered around Madeline and Elliot, whose relationship unfolds through e-mails and texts between the couple and the best friends they bring along for the roller-coaster ride. It’s perhaps one of the most realistic and revelatory modern-day love stories I’ve read, perfectly capturing the way we live, love, and communicate now.
One of the most famous and beloved novels of the last decade, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY is a remarkable tale of love, literature, and war that begins, simply, with a letter. As England emerges from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her new book—and when she receives a letter from a man she’s never met who has found her name on the inside of a novel, she thinks she’s found it. As the two exchange letters and eventually meet in the small town changed by the German occupation, both lives are changed forever.
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
If you haven’t already read the book that inspired the Netflix hit, what are you waiting for? The first in a trilogy, TO ALL THE BOYS is a sweet, page-turning book about Lara Jean Covey (our new literary fave), a sixteen-year-old who writes secret letters to crushes she knows will never play out in the real world. But when the letters somehow get out—including one to Peter Kavinsky, a boy she kissed in middle school—life is turned upside down in hilarious, serious, and heartwarming ways.