Books about Snail Mail, Letter-Writing & Good Mail Days

What is a good mail day to you?

Do you wish for more Good Mail Days? Or are you asking yourself right now: “What is a good mail day?” From the description of the great book Good Mail Day, you will find one way to answer that question:

A good mail day is a day when, instead of just bills, catalogs, and advertisements, your postal carrier delivers artful, beautiful, personal mail from friends and acquaintances all over the world. Mail art is a collaborative art form with a long and fascinating history populated by famous artists as well as everyday practitioners.

And I agree, although I call it Mail Bliss. Around here it’s not that hard to achieve… The DIY Postcard Swap that I host is easy to join, open to everyone who wants to create mail art or what we’re calling “DIY Postcards” – and you can sign up today. Yay!

I bought the above book back in 2014, according to Amazons records, and it is a favorite mail art book for me. And since the swap is in full swing, I thought we would look at some other mail art related books today to get us thinking about snail mail and mail art in preparation of the even. The more I host this swap, the more I feel related and in love with the concept of happy mail. I want to read everything about the things I love. How about you?

Maybe you’ll find a (new) favorite or two here…

Inspirational Books About Snail Mail

Snail Mail: Rediscovering the Art and Craft of Handmade Correspondence, is written by by Michelle Mackintosh. She thinks we spend too much time on social media, and too little practicing our hand-writing.

Book blurb: Inspired by Japanese stationery and letter-writing culture, Michelle Mackintosh introduces the reader to the charm of the handwritten letter, personalized packages and handcrafted stationery. Beautifully illustrated and complete with cut-out postcard designs, papercraft and rubber stamp templates, Snail Mail is full of equally useful and whimsical advice, like how to say thank you in a letter and other old-school etiquette; how to take time and reflect on your life through writing; how to improve and celebrate your own handwriting; how to make your own paper; how to romance someone the old-school way; how to make pen friends and DIY beautiful invitations for any occasion.

Snail Mail My Email: Handwritten Letters in a Digital World, by Ivan Cash. Another book that promotes hand-writing before e-mail and Facebook updates. It’s about a project that Ivan did where he invited people to e-mail him a letter, that he then would hand-write and send back the “old fashioned way”. The book is a view into everyday lives of the participants writings, a collection of the most memorable letters and moments from the project, and a reminder of the power of personal connection in a digital world. On my wish list!

Creative Correspondence is a project based how-to book by Judy Jacobs. Ideas for card-making can be found in this book. Actually, there are fifteen step-by-step projects – including letters, envelopes with photo inserts, booklets, and self-mailers, in this book.

Happy Mail: Keep in touch with cool & stylish handmade snail mail, by Eunice Moyle. This book is about hand-lettering and you will learn the basics of how to create beautiful hand-lettered designs, so not just writing a letter, but making DIY Postcards with messages, something I myself have tried to do and failed at in the past. Lettering is fun, but it’s hard not to judge yourself. That too, takes practice. But if you dream of enhancing your DIY paper projects with hand-lettering, this book is for you. You’ll learn how to make cards, stationary and envelopes for example.

Care Packages: Celebrating the Art and Craft of Thoughtfully Made Packages Hardcover by
by Michelle Mackintosh, who is on a mission to encourage people to reconnect with each other. Blurb: Many of us send care packages without even realizing it – get-well packs, student treats, food packages to expats, clothes packages to charities, family packages to loved ones in the military – the list can be endless. Put together with Michelle’s beautiful collage aesthetic, Care Packages brings back the art of crafting packages with love and care. The book is split into several chapters including reasons to send a care package, types of care packages, delivery, what to include and projects on how to design, craft, and decorate your care package.

Yummy, right?

Postcard Stories came out last year and is written by by Jan Carson and illustrated by Benjamin Phillips. Blurb: Each day of 2015 Jan Carson wrote a short story on the back of a postcard and mailed it to a friend. Each of these tiny stories was inspired by an event, an overheard conversation, a piece of art or just a fleeting glance of something worth thinking about further. Collected in one volume, Carson’s postcards present a panoramic view of contemporary Belfast — its coffee shops, streets and museums and airports — and offer it to the wider world. Even as they seem to spring from a writer’s solitary perspective, taken together, these observations and their distribution speak of human connectedness. Like a pleasant surprise in the mail, this collection reminds us how many friendships are born and strengthened in a story shared. – Oh, how I love that!

Write Back Soon: Adventures in Letter Writing by Karen Benke. This is an interactive workbook that encourages creative interactions between friends through the written word, complete with cross-outs, smudges, and parenthetical asides. Put down that smartphone and pick up a pen, encourages this book, with awesome contributors like Neil Gaiman and Natalie Goldberg, just to name the two coolest ones. On my wish list too.

Always First Class: The Pleasure of Personal Letters by Lois Barry. Oh, why don’t I own this already? A quote book about letter writing sounds like a must-have for any happy mail sender or mail art artist, right? Blurb: Lois Barry, award-winning Professor English and Writing, has assembled an intriguing miscellany of letter-writing history, facts, quotations and writing suggestions. Nearly 200 quotations celebrate letter writing from Lord Byron’s classic assertion that “Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company,” to Kate Spade’s modern appreciation, “It’s uplifting to get a letter―like an ‘ooh!’ in your mail box.” Marianne Moore’s enthusiastic report, “I had a letter from Elisabeth [Bishop] a day or two ago, which I’m thinking of having tattooed on me …” balances Anne Sexton’s poignant relief, “I’m glad you wrote to me. I thought I had died or something,” Ada Leverson cautions, “You don’t know a woman until you have received a letter from her,” while John Donne romantically declares:

More than kisses, letters mingle souls.

Postcard Swap open right now so sign up for iHannas DIY Postcard Swap Spring 2018
What is a good mail day to you? Let me know in the comments below. I’ve had several last week and will be sure to share some of the goodies soon. :-)

I’d also love to know if you have read any of these books or others about mail art, snail mail, postcards and letter-writing? I’d love to read about them. Thanks.

Oh and don’t forget to Sign up for the DIY Postcard Swap to ensure you have lots of happy mail days in your future.

** Previous book reviews by yours truly

6 Responses

  1. In Feb I participated in a 28 day daily write a letter challenge. Loads of people signed up and we picked addresses at random. 4 people wrote to me, which was a delight, then I found out someone else got 65 letters and I confess to a moment of envy. I have replied to those 4, and also replied to the replies from the people who wrote back to me after they got my letter. Some people have written about their enjoyment of fountain pens, and one lady even gifted me with a pen after I told her I would be looking for one for myself. I have now treated myself to some handmade Italian stationery and would love an Italian writing desk and a friend suggested I get an Italian villa to go with it. Love the look of the books you have written about here…want them all of course

  2. Thanks for the book list! I purchased Good Mail Day at your recommendation a couple years ago, and will add Care Packages to my birthday or Christmas wish list this year. I do so love happy mail! My grandmother and I write letters to each other each week, my friend and I exchange handmade cards in the mail for each major holiday, and another friend and I exchange small “I found this and thought of you” packages a couple times a year. Looking forward to finding happy mail in my mailbox from your Postcard Swap in just a few weeks!!

  3. Thank you for mentioning the mail art book “Good Mail Day.” I knew both the dedicated artists and am in the book (page 72). It includes stickers in the back and shows a wonderful range of examples. Thank you for supporting these enthusiastic women.

  4. Hi Hanna, Do you know of the Postsecret project? I have a feeling you would, because you’ve been blogging so many years. In any case, I love it because it merges text and visual art, and it’s so personal and amazing. It’s been going on for so many years! I have the first book that came out, and I love it. I’ve had it for years, and I still use it for inspiration and when teaching.

  5. I always send birthday cards to my friends and family, so this is right up my alley! I just requested Good Mail Day from the library. :)

  6. Great post – I will have to check some of these out! I have Good Mail Day, but have not heard of the others. On my list – Mail Me Art (Darren Di Leito); Urgent Second Class (Nick Bantock); the Post Secret project (as mentioned above); The Englishman who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects (John Tingey). There is another one in my collection but it must be in a box somewhere and I can’t find it online. I thought it was called Postcards from the Dead, but I can’t find it under that title and there is another book with that title. At any rate, the author mailed all these postcards to deceased people, and the ones that never came back he assumed were delivered in the afterlife (not seriously of course). Anyway it was a different concept and had some good art in it too. Thanks again for the swap – I think I’ve got most if not all of my cards already!

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