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The Birth of the Book Letter

16 Feb

Two of my favorite things on the planet are books and letters. About two years ago, I created a way to combine them—a Book Letter. It sounds simple enough, and it can be as elaborate or straightforward as you’d like to make it, but I promise it will be something treasured forever by the recipient of your choice.

What is a Book Letter?

I love writing letters and far prefer the long missive that goes on for some pages, like a long, in-depth conversation with someone you enjoy spending time with. Short notes have their place, of course, but long letters are definitely more of a treasure to hold onto and re-read. However, long letters take time and thought, and in this busy age of quick text messages and emails, it is quite rare for people to write extremely long letters, especially in one sitting.

The Birth of the Book Letter by Tamra Orr on EuropeanPaper.com

Enter the Book Letter. Basically, you take a small notebook (2 by 4 inches, or pocket-sized, which is 3.5 by 5.5 inches), dedicate it to one person, and start writing letters in it whenever you get a chance. They can be long or short, and once the book is filled up, it’s time to send it off to the lucky person. This is the first iteration of the Book Letter—simple, efficient, and practical.

If you’d like to develop a more complex Book Letter, give it some depth. Keep an eye out during your daily routine for items the recipient would like. Perhaps such items like a newspaper clipping of a review for a play they like; snippets of a friendship poem you came across online; a quote that reminded you of the person, some funny cartoons and other small paper “tuck-ins.” These can be glued into the small notebook, taped onto a page, or just tucked in.

Once you get the hang of it, each Book Letter will be easier and quicker to create. Start deciding ahead of time what else will go in your Book Letter other than just your handwritten letters. Keep a small collection of items to tuck in the next Book Letter, as well as some small notebooks whenever the feeling grabs you to start a new one.

My Book Letter Process

Personally, when I start a new Book Letter to someone, the first thing I do is decorate the inside page with the name of the person I am sending the letter to. I typically use calligraphy pens and stickers to do this and often add the date.

Next, I choose a theme for the book letter—anything from Victorian elegance or going “green” to highlighting a specific season or holiday.  (I use scrapbooking supplies for much of this.) Once I’ve chosen the theme, I go through the notebook, page by page, and add stickers and borders. If I was remotely artistic, I would add sketches and drawings. So if you are artistic, this is a great place to show off your talent.

Now it’s time to decide what “tuck ins” will go with this letter. Maybe it’s pictures of my kids opening their Christmas presents or watering the plants in the garden. Maybe it’s a newspaper article or a magazine column of interest. It might be a funny cartoon that made you laugh or a copy of a quote from a book that had an impact on you. Truly, there are no limits. Just choose something that reflects who you are and who you are writing to.

Finally, I start writing the letter itself, skipping around the tuck-ins and filling up the pages.  I write a few pages and then put the letter away for a day or two before adding more words. Eventually the Book Letter is ready—a true gift for whomever it is sent to.

Ready to try your own book letter? Start by choosing a small notebook. Some great examples include Apica’s CD-10, 11 and 15 Series, Moleskine’s Volant Notebooks, and Rhodia’s Pocket Unlimited Notebooks. These notebooks come in all sizes, with as few as 10-12 pages or as many as 150. They can be lined or unlined. What kind you choose is up to you, but remember that filling up much more than 30 pages or so can be challenging. I recommend starting small.

Book Letter Tips

Next, add stickers, pictures, drawings/illustrations, whatever you would like to decorate your pages. Finally, start writing. You might write two pages today, put it away for a week and then add a few more. I’ve been known to complete a book letter in one sitting—and take almost a month.

Remember that a book letter is like an art project – there is no right or wrong way to do it. There is simply YOUR way of doing it. It will reflect your thoughts and your time and there are few gifts as worthwhile as that.

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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4 Responses to “The Birth of the Book Letter”

  1. Rita February 16, 2012 at 6:29 PM #

    I’ve been creating handmade cards for decades and been a letter writer since I was about ten. About 3-4 years ago I combined the two and started making what I have been calling bookcards. I make a cover with printed craft paper or handmade paper and then sew in pages pamphlet style (one signature) with embroidery thread–half of 8 1/2 X 11 inch sheets for the signature. I put in anywhere from 4-10 pages (16-40 total pages front and back) and write when the mood strikes me, too. I print off photos and glue them inside to make picture bookcards for the people I know who don’t have internet. I absolutely love your idea, too. That really is truly a book that you send. Awesome! Would be so exciting to receive one of those. I might just have to try that…and decorate! ;) What a great idea!!

  2. Greg March 18, 2012 at 6:52 PM #

    Some years ago, a friend and I took the same approach to the “book letter” except we kept sending the book back and forth. Each would make and entry or write a letter and then send it to the other. Then the other would make an entry and return. it stopped at some point in my possession and I ran across it a few months ago. It was a fun and interesting read, which I am hoping to send on to my friend.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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