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Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See Hardcover – October 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“If I have learned only one thing from a) personal experience and b) Vivian Cash's fascinating memoir, I Walked the Line, it is this: No human can compose a love letter without seeming slightly insane. Love letters are like suicide notes -- if someone is in the emotional position to consider writing one, they're generally in the worst psychological position to make any cogent sense. That disconnect is what makes Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See  a painfully entertaining twelve-minute read. Edited by former Life magazine editor Bill Shapiro (and presented like Davy Rothbart's Found series), the book delivers exactly what it purports: random personal letters from people who are either wildly ecstatic or profoundly depressed over the condition of their romantic existence. (One of my favorite entries is from a person who just printed the word liar 183 consecutive times.) Judging from the contents of these notes, we appear to live in a society that is sex crazed and optimistic yet consumed with deep regret. This is probably true. Making matters all the more interesting is Shapiro's epilogue -- he contacts several of the contributors and finds out how the relationship worked out, postletter.”
—Esquire, Chuck Klosterman
 
“Bill Shapiro (Time Inc.'s development editor) collects extremely private correspondence, which he has amassed in Other People's Love Letters. The notes, e-mails, telegrams, and letters appear as copies of the originals, in all their faded, tearstained glory. The earliest examples come off as gorgeous and romantic, whether they're pages of elegant script or a few words scrawled on a cocktail napkin. E-mail seems to have had a decidedly negative effect on the art, if ''Am having terribly naughty thoughts again today, and I was wondering if you might want to hear about them'' is any indication. After compulsively flipping through to the last page, I have just one question: How did Shapiro get people to part with these?”
—Entertainment Weekly
 
“From the moment Bill Shapiro stumbled upon an old love letter that wasn’t his (it was an ode to his then girlfriend from some earlier man), he was hooked. His new book, Other People’s Love Letters, reprints 150 of the many hundreds he’s collected over the years. Strictly speaking, they’re not all declarations of love. Some are Dear Johns; others are postmortems of failed relationships. And not all of them are letters, in the stationary-and-envelope sense. They’re scrawled across postcards, crammed onto Post-its, scribbled on cocktail napkins and matchbooks. Some are old (Peter J. Dougherty, chief of police, to ‘dearest Lizzie,’ dated December 22, 1911); some are new (e-mails, text messages, more e-mails). Should going through them strike you as voyeuristic, beware. They’re addictive.”
—O Magazine

About the Author

Bill Shapiro is the former editor of LIFE magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Potter Style; First Edition first Printing edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382641
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Fan of Tick Tock on November 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Finally, a way to read other people's love letters without betraying someone you know or risking getting caught, hurt, or overcome by guilt. But the pleasure isn't simply voyeuristic. These letters pull you into the world of the writer/recipient/lover/loved (It's the experience of reading novel, but with nicer graphics and way fewer words!), but also make you reflect on your own relationships, the things you do and don't express, the complex range of feelings you have all at once, the way feelings change over time ... They run the gamut from tear-jerking to shocking to laugh-out-loud funny and represent a range of relationships at all the different stages--which makes reading them not only illuminating but also reassuring: All these people, old and young, effusive and reticent, articulate and, um, less so have experienced the intense highs and lows of new love, unrequited love, lustful love, lost love, etc. and survived (at least enough to have contributed a letter to this book). Bottom line: great read, excellent gift.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Christina Lockstein on January 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Other People's Love Letters by Bill Shapiro is a fascinating peek into love: its beginnings and endings, and the twisted path between. Shapiro, whose website has many more of these letters, asked his friends and exs for old love letters. They, in turn, asked others giving Shapiro a huge range of letters to choose from in making this book. From sweet text messages, to post divorce rants, these letters are enjoyable and insightful. It's amazing how similar letters written in the first throes of love are: you're amazing; I can't live without you. But Shapiro tried to pick letters that said something deeper and love and the human condition. It's not a book you want to read in one sitting; reading too many back to back makes them lose their potency. But taken in small doses, it's a great way to remember how good love feels in the beginning and how sweet it can be after many years. Some of my favorite letters were the ones written by married couples several years in. Shapiro includes a short epilogue with brief stories about some of the couples who wrote the letters. Reading these made the letters even more powerful, especially the one from a husband serving in Vietnam in 1969. A great read, perfect as a Valentine's Day gift; give it with your own love letter!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In "Other People's Love Letters" Bill Shapiro presents 150 letters that are pretty interesting to read. He requested letters from everyone he knew and they in turn did the same. Some of the letters are about divorce and a few are especially honest about breaking up. However most of the letters seem pretty mild and could be read by anyone without offence. Every letter in this collection was printed with permission from its writer or the closest living relative. One typed letter was from 1939 and didn't really seem like a love letter to me. There is one letter that is pretty impressive and states all the reasons a person is loved - it shows a lot of creativity. The letters about divorce and missed opportunities are a little sad but most of the people have a good attitude about what is happening. One letter reveals that a couple is writing 50 e-mails a day and that it is becoming overwhelming. The writer says: "...except for your insanity, you are one of the coolest, funniest people I know." Some of the handwritten letters are difficult to read. The most interesting letters were the ones where a response was also included. A few people seemed to be involved in long-distance relationships. For the most part, these letters are fun to read and they are not likely to offend. I think some people who reviewed this book were reading a different book because I didn't find anything too erotic in these letters.

~The Rebecca Review
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Haim on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoy this book. There is something both sweet and scandalous about the idea of reading snippets of other peoples' love letters. Each time I pick it up I find something new that I hadn't noticed the last time I read it. The imagination whirls wondering about the writers and the recipients. It's the perfect Valentines Day!
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Anne Bam on January 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I bought this as a gift for a friend, but after browsing through it, was quite tempted to steal it back from her. There are some really adorable heart-warming notes, & some notes of love gone awry. Not just a book for the romantic, but for the skeptic too--some discourage and show love's pitfalls, but also many leave you terribly optimistic. I highly recommend it.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nancy on January 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Accidentially on purpose, Bill Shapiro read a love letter left on his girlfriends counter, not once, but three times. Thus began his collecting of love letters. Not your usual collection of letters, not always the undying love type, these letters will make you laugh, cry and at times make you glad that crazy obsessed stalker like people have found others to write to.

At the end you will find a post script to some of these letters that will warm you heart all over again. Designed in very much the same way as the Post Secret Books, this is a great gift to share with your friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amnah Rehman on November 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everyone knows love is like a roller coaster with many ups and downs and sometimes you're stuck in the middle of the ride. Sounds cliché but it is reality. You meet a person that changes your life and you accept their flaws and love and appreciate every single thing they do for you. But once when your rollercoaster ride is over, it's painful and loaded with many emotions but damn, don't you think it was well worth the ride? This book is filled with these kind of emotions in the notes and letters etc...

I'm not done reading all of these notes/letters yet, but I do read some of them when i'm in the mood to sit outside with a blanket under the stars and think about love...*sigh* i'm a hopeless romantic.

I recommend this book!
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