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Best Letters Books: 30 Top Nonfiction Books of Letters and Epistolary Novels (2020)

Best Letters Books And Epistolary Novels
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Best Letters Books And Epistolary Novels

Looking for the best letters books? Or a page-turning epistolary novel?

You’re in the right place!

There’s something truly magical about letter writing. Maybe it’s that each letter has a clear audience. Or that the medium tends to keep things concise. Or that you can read them in neat, bite-sized chunks.

Whatever it is, from the famous to the literary, from the personal to the shared, there’s little doubt that some of the wisest and wittiest words ever written have been delivered in handy, correspondence-shaped packages.

That’s why, in this list of book recommendations, I’ve collected the greatest letter books and epistolary novels ever written; a treasure trove of insights from the world’s very best writers distilled into missives to readers and friends.

Whether you’re here for enjoyment or inspiration or instruction; whether you’re a here as a writer or editor or just to read you’ll find the very best letters books pre-ranked and organised below.

I hope you enjoy them, I hope they inspire you and I hope you find what you’re looking for.

And until next time, read daily, read widely and read well,

Arthur “An Animal That Writes Letters” Worsley

P.s., Not sure what to read first? I’d start with books #1, #3 and #14.

The 30 Best Letters Books And Epistolary Novels Ever Written

Why these books of correspondence and epistolary novels? The best letters books below are the top picks from my master database, ranked by a combination of Goodreads rating, the number of Goodreads reviews and first publication date. The goal is to give a good balance of what’s most loved, what’s most popular and what’s delivered timelessly relevant advice.

Think something’s missing? Leave a comment or email me and I’ll add it to the next round of updates. I honestly love hearing from you so please, do get in touch!

  1. Letters from a Stoic (-49), Seneca
    256 pages. Rated 4.3 over 14,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  2. The Screwtape Letters (1942), C.S. Lewis
    223 pages. Rated 4.2 over 279,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  3. Letters to a Young Poet (1929), Rainer Maria Rilke
    80 pages. Rated 4.3 over 39,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  4. The Letters of Vincent van Gogh (1914), Vincent van Gogh
    528 pages. Rated 4.0 over 67,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  5. Letters from Father Christmas (1943), J.R.R. Tolkien
    111 pages. Rated 4.2 over 9,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  6. Letter from the Birmingham Jail (1963), Martin Luther King Jr.
    35 pages. Rated 4.7 over 4,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  7. My Dearest Friend (1840), Abigail Adams
    Letters of Abigail and John Adams
    508 pages. Rated 4.2 over 2,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  8. The Habit of Being (1978), Flannery O’Connor
    Letters of Flannery O’Connor
    640 pages. Rated 4.5 over 1,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  9. Jane Austen’s Letters (1932), Jane Austen
    672 pages. Rated 4.2 over 2,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  10. The Adams-Jefferson Letters (1959), Lester J. Cappon
    The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams
    690 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  11. Tiny Beautiful Things (2012), Cheryl Strayed (Summary)
    Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
    A heart thumpingly raw, vulnerable and powerful collection of letters and advice on the power of love, of forgiveness and of finding growth in the darkest of places – by award-winning writer, Cheryl Strayed.
    304 pages. Rated 4.3 over 50,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  12. The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf (1965), Louise DeSalvo
    480 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  13. Letters of John Keats (1954), John Keats
    448 pages. Rated 4.4 over 400 reviews on Goodreads.
  14. Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1902), George Horace Lorimer
    364 pages. Rated 4.1 over 1,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  15. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), J.R.R. Tolkien
    502 pages. Rated 4.2 over 5,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  16. Letters Home (1975), Sylvia Plath
    502 pages. Rated 4.2 over 2,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  17. A Literate Passion (1965), Anaïs Nin
    Letters of Anaïs Nin Henry Miller, 1932-1953
    448 pages. Rated 4.2 over 1,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  18. Anne Sexton (1977), Anne Sexton
    A Self-Portrait in Letters
    433 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  19. Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1928), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    320 pages. Rated 4.2 over 200 reviews on Goodreads.
  20. Letter to His Father (1952), Franz Kafka
    127 pages. Rated 3.9 over 13,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  21. The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde (1962), Oscar Wilde
    1,270 pages. Rated 4.3 over 300 reviews on Goodreads.
  22. The Letters of Virginia Woolf (1975), Virginia Woolf
    Vol. One, 1888-1912
    566 pages. Rated 4.3 over 600 reviews on Goodreads.
  23. Selected Letters (1925), Marcus Tullius Cicero
    288 pages. Rated 4.0 over 600 reviews on Goodreads.
  24. The Bach Reader (1945), Hans T. David
    A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents
    474 pages. Rated 4.4 over <100 reviews on Goodreads.
  25. Magick Without Tears (1954), Aleister Crowley
    528 pages. Rated 4.1 over 1,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  26. Letters to Children (1985), C.S. Lewis
    128 pages. Rated 4.2 over 1,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  27. Beethoven (1960), Ludwig van Beethoven
    Letters, Journals and Conversations
    281 pages. Rated 4.4 over <100 reviews on Goodreads.
  28. Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001), Christopher Hitchens
    141 pages. Rated 4.1 over 9,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  29. Lord Byron (1972), Lord Byron
    Selected Letters and Journals
    408 pages. Rated 4.4 over <100 reviews on Goodreads.
  30. Selected Letters III (1971), H.P. Lovecraft
    1929-1931
    451 pages. Rated 4.4 over <100 reviews on Goodreads.

II. Best Books Of All Time

These are the overall best books to read (by type).

III. Best Nonfiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best nonfiction books to read (by topic).

IV. Best Fiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best fiction books to read (by genre).

Or, you can read all my book recommendations.
Arthur Worsley
Arthur Worsley
Arthur is a productivity coach and writer who helps top young execs and entrepreneurs be more productive, find more balance and live more meaningfully. Want to know more? Take this 2-minute quiz to discover your Productivity Quotient (PQ) and learn how to get BIG things done. Take the Quiz →

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