Tea and Letters at Book Culture

On October 20, which was National Day on Writing, Book Culture hosted Tea and Letters, hoping to encourage a letter-writing renaissance. A framed statement on their letter writing station spells it out: “Letter writing takes time, patience and sentiment… When not limited to 140 characters, a letter writer is able to bare their soul, an intimacy we feel is important in the time of ‘likes’ and ‘hyperlinks.’"

Earlier this year I received an eight-page letter from an old friend, who is a musician and artist now living in Ireland. In it, he expressed such richness of experience and depth of feeling, that I wondered how I could adequately respond. It says a lot about the frenetic pace of our lives that it took months for me to sit down and write a response. Observing others writing letters around me made it easier.

Sitting around the table holding our Book Culture pens, we laughed about how we had become so accustomed to typing that our handwritten words were coming out slightly illegible at times. 

Beside me, Nancy was writing to her friend, Andrea, in Palo Alto.

“I miss her so much,” she said.

Julia, a music student at Juilliard, wrote a letter to her boyfriend in Chicago.

Her friend, Patrick, also at Juilliard, was writing a letter to a friend in France whom he met while studying in Morocco. One of his pages was in Arabic.

As well as Tea and Letters, there was cake and fruit and cookies and even cucumber sandwiches. Book Culture also provided free stationery at their Letter Writing Station, which will now be a permanent fixture at the store. Book Culture also provided postage, including for international letters. 

The future recipient of my letter once said to me, “You’ll get there just as fast by donkey.”  I understood the wisdom in what he said, because with all of our rushing around, are we really getting anywhere we want to be any faster? 

It was gratifying to take a moment to compose a personal message to someone who had taken the time to express himself to me in such a poetic way.  And I could tell by the focus of those around me, that plenty of people still want to connect in a more personal way than texting and emailing.

On Saturday, October 26th, at 11 am Book Culture on Broadway will host a family-oriented version of this event, where children can write letters to whomever they wish.  If this Sunday’s event is anything to go by, it will be a perfect environment for kids to write their letters to friends and family. And I’m sure the recipients will be grateful to Book Culture for helping to keep the art of letter writing alive.