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Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing Hardcover – April 15, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1ST edition (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145168715X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451687156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this age of e-mail, few appreciate any longer the deep joys and satisfactions that spring in mind and heart from writing and receiving letters. Sankovitch combs history to find exceptional correspondents. She recounts very famous pairs, such as Héloïse and Abelard, whose intense relationship ended tragically. An interchange of letters between Joyce Maynard and J. D. Salinger linked an established writer with a devoted fan. Sankovitch offers dozens of other correspondents less celebrated but no less articulate. She finds troves of emotion in letters of condolence mourning the losses of John Kennedy and of Arthur Ashe. Politics gives way to simple love in the letters from the imprisoned Nelson Mandela to his Winnie. Not all letter writing is so benign: Sankovitch cites ransom notes demanding money for the return of the Lindbergh baby. More survey than anthology, this book should encourage readers to search out and read the letters’ full texts. --Mark Knoblauch

Review

“Does anybody remember the values associated with hand-writing a letter? Does the word “cursive” ring a bell? The author of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair eloquently tracks the history of letter-writing, and along the way reminds us of how a real letter establishes a personal bond between the writer and the recipient.” (The Sacramento Bee)

“In this age of e-mail, few appreciate any longer the deep joys and satisfactions that spring in mind and heart from writing and receiving letters. Sankovitch combs history to find exceptional correspondents… this book should encourage readers to search out and read the letters' full texts.” (Booklist)

“[Sankovitch] makes an eloquent argument on behalf of the unique personal qualities of sending and receiving letters.” (The Connecticut Post)

“Part memoir, part meditation, part artful history lesson…and part reminder to put a pen to paper” (OPRAH.COM)

"A son’s departure for college prompted Sankovitch (Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, 2011, etc.) to wonder, 'Why does a letter mean so much?'... Her desire for an actual handwritten letter got the author thinking about the different ways in which correspondence connects us to others, and her agreeable narrative roams through many varieties.... a sweet-natured, well-written affirmation of the time-honored role of letters as a uniquely personal way to communicate." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Perfect for devotes of pen and paper, Sankovitch’s (Tolstoy and the Purple Chair) new book examines her personal correspondence with family and friends and the letters of strangers, famous and obscure, and shows the reading of letters to be a pleasurable form of discovery and connection... an enjoyable, if sentimental read and will likely inspire both old-fashioned letter reading and letter writing." (Publishers Weekly)

Sankovitch's "review of the art of letter writing is a unique blend of personal and public history...[her] enthusiasm is clear as she makes the case for their importance. It's hard to imagine future generations becoming as excited over discovering emails and texts as she was over the revelation of century-old letters." (Library Journal)

“I loved this this poignant and inspirational book. Nina Sankovitch brings many lost worlds and characters—from Abelard and Eloise to Edith Wharton—vividly to life through the power of letters. At the same time, she reminds us of all that we have lost since texting has replaced letter writing as a vital connection among humans. A pure delight.” (Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story)

“I challenge you to stop reading Signed, Sealed, Delivered after the Queen of Bohemia's flame to the Earl of Carlisle which begins ‘Thou ugly, filthy, camel's face...’ I know I couldn't.” (Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind and Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Ge)

“Dear reader: I hasten to alert you to an irresistible book exploring personal correspondence across many periods of history and every range of human emotion. If letter-writing is a lost, or at best a vanishing, art, Nina Sankovitch has injected it with new hope and life. Take that, email and twitter. Frankly, I could not put this book down, else I would have written sooner.” (Harold Holzer, author of Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President)

“How sad to think our children may never get a letter from a friend or a lover, the art of both—the sentiment and penmanship—fading away like an old Polaroid. Nina Sankovitch’s lovely, elegant book about the intimacy of letters is rich with treasures from politicians, soldiers, mothers, prisoners, husbands, and wooers. It is a joy to read, savor, and remember.” (Lesley Stahl, author of Reporting Live)

More About the Author

Nina Sankovitch has written two books of non-fiction. The first, her memoir of a life of reading, entitled Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, came out in 2011. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair not only tells the story of Nina's life of reading but of how books helped her to cope with the death of her oldest sister. Described as a must-read by Oprah Magazine and hailed as an outstanding debut by Kirkus Reviews, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is for anyone who has ever found refuge -- or comfort or escape or joy - in a book.

Nina's next book, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing, comes out in April 2014 from Simon & Schuster. This book on letters begins with Nina's discovery of a trove of hundred-year old letters written by a Princeton freshman in to his mother in the early 1900s. Nina's own son is heading off to Harvard and she wants him to write to her, as the Princeton student wrote his mother and as Nina wrote hers. But times have changed. Before Nina can persuade her child of the value of letters, she must first understand herself exactly what it is about letters that make them so special.

Nina sets off on a quest through the history of letter writing--from the ancient Egyptians to the medieval lovers Abelard and Heloise, from the letters received by President Lincoln after his son's death to the correspondence of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Sankovitch looks at the power of letters through epistolary novels, her husband's love letters, and dozens more sources--including her son's brief reports from college on the weather and his allowance.

Nina reminds us that letters offer proof and legacy of what is most important in life: love and connection. In the end, she finds, the letters we write are even more important than the ones we wait for.

Nina was born in Evanston, Illinois, and is a graduate of Evanston Township High School, Tufts University, and Harvard Law School. She lives with her four children, husband, and three cats in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Edward Gregory on April 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Physical letters to hold and cherish rather than ephemera on the phone or computer. I think that is what this book is about, written in a wonderful manner, avoiding being too precious. Highly recommended for those who care about more than 5 minutes ago.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan in Houston on May 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished this gem of a book which left me 1. terribly, overwhelmingly sad that, unlike the author, I did not save letters which were written to me, and that all are irrevocably lost; and 2. feeling resolved to start writing letters again to those I love most--a resolution which may be difficult to keep in this time of easy communication by text and social media. Sankovitch interweaves her own experience with well-researched accounts of other letter writers in history in an apology for an art that I fear is lost despite her impassioned plea that we save it. A future without mail--and for that matter without books or libraries--is hard to imagine, and yet is all too rapidly upon us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bertha Hammond on May 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Do you like to write letters? Do you love to read old letters? Then I recommend Nina Sankovitch's new book "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". Nina's book is about the history of letter writing from ancient egyptians, to medieval lovers, to the letters President Lincoln received after his son's death, to present day tv shows. I love reading old letters so this book was a joy to read.
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