This year Melwyk at The Indextrious Reader hosted a postal challenge to draw attention to the decline in letter-writing in recent years, something which we should all deplore. I was sorely tempted to join in but neither reading nor blogging were going particularly well at the time, so I was sensible.
This year, though, Melwyk is hosting the challenge again, and I'm determined to join in. I'm delighted to find that there were some epistolary novels already on the TBR pile, and I've been able to draw up a list which looks more like unadulterated pleasure than hard work.
What's involved? Here's what Melwyk has to say on her blog:
What is the Challenge?
The key is to read and review books with a postal theme. These can be non-fiction on the subject of letter writing, collections of real letters, or epistolary fiction of any era. Be creative! Review each one and link back to the challenge -- there will be quarterly roundup posts for you to link reviews and posts to as you create them.
The challenge runs from January 1st, 2014 to December 31st, 2014. You can sign up ANY TIME throughout the year.
Any books chosen can overlap with any other challenge, and rereads are allowed. Just remember to review them somewhere online in order for them to count toward the challenge. Lists don't have to be made in advance, though feel free to share your choices and inspire other readers if you wish! I always think that making lists is half the fun :)
How do I join in?To join in, just go to Melwyk's blog and sign up, either with your introductory post or just with your blog's name. You don't even have to have a blog to join.
There are a few ways to participate in this challenge.
Postcard Level: Read and review 4 books with a postal theme.
Snail Mail Level: Read and review 8 books with a postal theme.
Parcel Post Level: Read and review 12 books with a postal theme.
Air Mail Express Level: Read and review 12 books with a postal theme AND commit to sending more old fashioned letters this year. At least 12 pieces of mail (or more!), and you can share numbers or even images of your mail art in the quarterly roundups.
Anyone who completes the challenge at any level will have their names thrown into a draw to win some letter-related goodies at the end of the year. In addition, if you complete the Air Mail Express Level, you'll get a chance to win a lifetime membership to (and some goodies from) the Letter Writers Alliance!Need ideas about what to read? Check out the links at last year's sign-up post, or scroll through some of the epistolary titles that were reviewed in 2013.
I agree with Melwyk that lists are half the fun, so here's mine:
- Jean Webster, Daddy-long-legs: I've been meaning to re-read this childhood favourite again. It's available on Project Gutenberg and in various print editions. I may well read the sequel, Dear Enemy, too.
- Nina Stibbe, Love Nina: Despatches from Family Life: Annabel has just reviewed this and I liked the sound of it, so I'd already ordered it from the library. How convenient!
- Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: I'm the only person who hasn't read this, it seems. What a good opportunity to set that right.
- Joyce Dennys, Henrietta's War: Ditto. It's been sitting on the Kindle waiting for a couple of months.
- Helene Hanffe, 84 Charing Cross Road: I have read this one, but it seems like a good time for a re-read.
- Sarah Caudwell, The Shortest Way to Hades: Loved the first in this series, Thus Was Adonis Murdered. I'm pretty sure that the epistolary passages continue into the second book -- indeed, I can't see how they wouldn't. Should be a real treat!
- Jessica Brockmole, Letters from Skye: This was on several people's lists for the 2013 challenge, I think, and I like the sound of it. The library has it.
- Rosie Thornton, More Than Love Letters: Okay, this is a re-read, but I remember enjoying it very much.
- The letters of Jane Austen: Something to dip into throughout the year? I have the edition of her letters published by Lord Brabourne on my Kindle -- not complete, about 2/3 of them -- but I also have various collections with extracts, including My Dear Cassandra, which has lovely illustrations to complement them.
- Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede, The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After: This series/trilogy started with Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, and is just fun. And is the only one I might need to buy.
- The sequel to Daddy-long-legs is Dear Enemy. I haven't read it.
- To round off the year, I may go for another re-read, one based on Jane Austen's letters and another real favourite, Hazel Holt's My Dear Charlotte. This is described as a detective novel in letters, by the author of the splendid Mrs Malory series.
How wonderful to have you join in! I love your list, and have read a few of your choices. But your last 2 are going straight on to my own list -- I've also never read Dear Enemy, while Hazel Holt has been a very recent discovery although this book has escaped my notice until now! Looking forward to your reading & reviews.ReplyDelete
Hope you'll enjoy Dear Charlotte - I love Hazel Holt!Delete
Sounds like a really challenging challenge :-)ReplyDelete
From your list, I have only read # 1 and 3, and # 1 is so long ago I can't remember much about it. But I do remember another "letter"-themed book from my teens, it was called "Zwei Briefe für Britta" (Two letters for Britta), and was about a girl whose entire life was changed by two letters she received.
As for writing letters, I do that a few times every year, since most of my Yorkshire relatives do not use email, and it is - apart from the phone - the only way to keep in touch with them between one yearly visit and the next.
And of course, there are the nurmerous Christmas cards and letters I send and receive, a true highlight for me every year.
I always look forward to Christmas cards, even if it's the only contact we exchange during the year it's good to hear from people.Delete
Dear Enemy wasn't quite as good as Daddy-Long-Legs, but still enjoyable! I write letters throughout the year, so hopefully I will have no problem making it to 12. I was just kidding about the Christmas cards. :) I am going to go check out some of the titles on your list I hadn't heard of before. :)ReplyDelete
I don't write many letters now, Kailana, but I do prefer them to emails. Good luck to us both!Delete
I've read #1, 3, and 5, thankfully! Cause otherwise, I want to read all the books on your list! lol Hazel Holt's book sounds interesting, I've read all the Stevermer/Wrede books (the first one is the most fun, but they are all good), and I've been hearing about the Nina Stibbe book this year. Sounds very good, and I will think about this challenge. I've been wanting to read Jane Austen's letters, too. I hope you have fun with this one!ReplyDelete
I'm looking forward to it very much, Susan - I like the immediacy of books-in-letters.Delete
I am very bad. I just bought Hazel Holt's book for Kindle, My Dear Charlotte, from Amazon. It's so simple, isn't it? I am so glad Amazon has created kindle for the computer!!! (I don't own a tablet yet). I have bookmarked My Dear Cassandra the book (not kindle) on Amazon, and hoping for some Christmas money so I can get it!!! :-) Those illustrations - I must have this book.ReplyDelete
That didn't take long for me, did it??? :-D
LOL, we are so bad for each other! My Dear Cassandra is one to have a "real" copy of though.Delete
Thrilled that you're doing this one too! (Think I might be in challenge heaven next year. LOL!) I liked both Daddy Long-Legs books though Kelly is right that book one was slightly better. The Guernsey Literary book is sheer delight, I may have to reread that myself. I'm very keen to read some Jane Austen letters this year and ordered a book of them from Amazon today. I am now going to go and have a look at My Dear Charlotte as that's a new one on me, though I've heard of Hazel Holt of course...ReplyDelete
I'm trying not to over-challenge myself, Cath, but this one is bliss. I like playing "spot the letter" in the Hazel Holt book!Delete
You haven't read Henrietta's War? One of my great comfort books and I hope you love it as much as I do.ReplyDelete
I have dipped into the beginning, and I don't think there's any doubt that I'm going to love it.Delete
I suspect I qualified for this challenge this year without noticing, so I should definitely make an active attempt to participate in 2014!ReplyDelete
I should think you are very probably right, Simon!Delete