Monday, January 07, 2013

Kind Regards

Kind Regards: the Lost Art of Letter Writing / Liz Williams
London: Michael O'Mara Books, c2012
192 p.

This is quite a simple introduction to the whole world of letter writing (but isn't the cover lovely?)

Williams takes on many areas in this short book -- from the history of postal services worldwide, to a collection of letter-related quotes, to the how-to of letter writing, to love letters, last letters, and more, including a rather awkward page or two on email & netiquette, which I found slightly unnecessary.

While I enjoyed it, especially the early chapters, I felt it was too brief and had too wide a scope to really engage my interest for very long. Perhaps if I hadn't already read so many of these kinds of books it would have been more compelling, but oh well, I still enjoyed the reading. The sections are brief, the writing is straight-forward, the reader is never in doubt about what the writer is trying to say. Also there are some charming illustrative motifs throughout.

Some notable facts & quotes that I loved:
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart ~ Phyllis Theroux
Fact: "The Romans established the first two-tier mail system....light carriages called rhedae, pulled by fast horses, were used for the 'first-class' service while two-wheeled carts (birolae), pulled by oxen, provided a slower service."
Fact: Hammurabai was considered to have created one of the first postal-systems, based on couriers on horse-back.

This would make a great introduction to the whole world of letters for someone just beginning to indulge their interest. It's brief and just the right size to carry with you and dip into at will. It's a very pretty volume, with that delightful cover, and good design inside. As for me, though, it left me hungry to find something more in-depth on the topic. Nevertheless, it did make me more enthusiastic about sitting down and actually writing a few letters, so I suppose it did its job!


  1. What a lovely and interesting book. Letter writing is another one of those quiet and contemplative skills that has gone by the wayside in favour of the speed of email and texting, which really aren't quite the same. I used to love getting a new box of pretty stationary and sitting down to compose a letter to a faraway friend or relative and then waiting days or even weeks for a response. But then, Oh the thrill or receiving a letter back! Priceless. It doesn't really happen much any more, though, which is too bad.

  2. Love that cover! I'd like to read this. We should celebrate the art of handwriting more in this digital age. Enjoyed your review.

  3. Love the cover. Too bad the book is so slight though. I've read several books like this one so I imagine I will skip it.

  4. Trish - I agree, it is a contemplative practice! I would really like to get back to that habit, which is why I'm actively focusing on writing more letters this year. It is so easy just to send an email, text or FB message...but a letter is so much more thoughtful and tangible!

    Vintage Reading - yes, handwriting is so wonderful - it carries the personality of the writer with it. I'm looking forward to reading Hensher's new book on handwriting when I get it as well.

    Stefanie - it is very pretty, but light as well, it's too bad.

  5. How lovely to see Kind Regards reviewed on your blog. I adore the cover design too (can take absolutely no credit for it though). I'm sorry the contents didn't live up to your expectations - the idea of the book was not to be exhaustive but rather to tempt the reader to read further and, above all, to start writing letters again.
    I quite agree that a more thorough exploration would be welcome - there really is a gap in the market for such a book.
    I just hope we don't lose the art of letter-writing in this hurried, increasingly digital, age. A hand-written letter is tangible proof of care, thought and consideration. We should hold onto it tenaciously, or we will lose something of our collective soul.

    Jane (aka Liz Williams). :)


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