Books, Learning, Reviews

A Love Letter to Wondrous Words and the Letters Within

From individual letters to wondrous words to all those letters (well, texts and emails nowadays) we write to one another, I love them all. Hence today’s post, through some of my recent reads, is my attempt to write a love letter to all the wondrous words I enjoy and the letters they contain within, as well as the letters that contain them!!

I recall a time when I spent hours practicing different lettering styles, coming up with them even. This was before I had ever thought in terms of fonts, or even thought about them. It was before I had even used a computer for the very first time. Yes, in my little town in the middle of nowhere, I first had access to a computer (and I feel ancient when I write this) when I was in high school. But I digress by talking about computers when really I want to talk about letters (and words).

Lettering was something I enjoyed before I knew it was a “thing.” I made my own greeting cards for friends and family, and tried to use some of these practiced lettering skills when I wrote letters to loved ones. Somehow, I stopped doing this along the way but have recently started trying lettering again. It is fun, it is hard work, and it is satisfying, no matter how it turns out in the end.

And then there are all those wondrous words that we form when we string these letters together. Words are magical, powerful, and transformative. Last but not the least, when we put words together to write to someone we love, we end up with letters to cherish and treasure for years to come.

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The Books About Letters and Wondrous Words

Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook

Book Info

Title:  Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook: Essential Instruction and 80+ Worksheets for Modern and Classic Styles
Author: Abbey Sy
Publishers: Rockport Publishers; Workbook edition (October 16, 2018)
Genre:  Arts & Photography | Crafts & Hobbies /Calligraphy Guides
Source: e-RC from NetGalley (originally) + my personal copy now

Description

Created by Abbey Sy, lettering expert and author of Hand Lettering A to Z, this must-have companion volume is a super-sized collection of drills, exemplars, and practice sheets for a variety of modern lettering styles, flourishes and other decorative elements, and motivational and inspirational quotes.

–Find essential how-tos for lettering with graphite and colored pencils, brush pens, fineline markers, and more
–Use the guided worksheets to try your hand at several modern styles, from simple to elaborate
–Progress to lettering beautiful and inspiring quotes (in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and other languages) that feature a mix of styles and tools
–Worksheet pages are perforated so they’re easy to remove and work on

Get a worksheet workout and learn, improve, or expand your lettering skills with Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook!

My Thoughts

This is more of a workbook than a actual book. Having said that, I have to say that both the “written content” part and the worksheets make this a really valuable resource for those looking to learn the basics of lettering. Sy provides the tips, tricks, and tools required for getting started and getting better with crisp and clear explanations. I love how she includes the rookie mistakes to avoid, as well as ideas to inspire us as we letter along with her.

Do you recall practicing cursive writing as a young child on those worksheets, over and over again? This book will bring back those “fond” memories (I did enjoy practicing my cursive so they were fond memories for me!!). While I hoped to have a few more sheets for practice, I made copies of the pages for multiple uses.

Use this along with her other book titled Hand Lettering A to Z: A World of Creative Ideas for Drawing and Designing Alphabets (as well as some of the tools needed) to make it a complete lettering-learning experience and/or gift.

In Summary

A great resource for all beginner calligraphers and for anyone who loves writing or journaling or art too!

Get It Here

Amazon

Absurd Words

Book Info

Title: Absurd Words: A kids’ fun and hilarious vocabulary builder for future word nerds
Text: Tara Lazar
Contributors (Art): Michelle Mayhall and Maryn Arrguin
Publishers:  Sourcebooks Explore (2 Jan 2022)
Genre: Children’s Reference Books (8 – 12 years, and up)
Source: e-RC from NetGalley

Description

A revolutionary dictionary-thesaurus hybrid, Absurd Words is a user-friendly, engaging book about the power of words—perfect for educators, parents, and future word nerds. Grouped into themes (“word squads”) and paired with pop culture, etymology, and history facts, readers explore not only what the words in the book mean, but where they came from, uses in pop culture, how to use them! To go even further, readers are encouraged to create their own words (“crashwords”), anagrams, and more.

My Thoughts

First Thoughts

Love at first sight!

Not Absurd At All

This book is lit: from the introduction and a note for the adults to the very last page about the master of making up words (not Shakespeare, mind you, but Roald Dahl). It is a treasure chest full of word-gems, a fun-house for word-nerds, and one that will magically transform all its readers into logophiles (regardless of whether they were or not before they opened it).

I loved the clever chapter titles (like “G.O.A.T.” for words related to being, well G.O.A.T, and “Stretching the Truth” for words about fibbing and tricking!) And I absolutely adored the extras: those colorful sidebars that popped up all over. Some provide the roots for words, others give quirky facts, and still others show their impact on pop culture.

There is a plethora of splendiferous words within its pages; and it makes learning so much fun. Plus, the colors and illustrations are sure to attract even the youngest readers. While this book is intended for a middle-grade audience, I know it will work for all and any ages that can string letters together and/or love reading!

Last but not the least, Lazar provides ideas on how to come up with crashwords (a new word for portmanteau). So you can be a neologist!

In Summary

For verbomaniacs everywhere! And for those who are not as well (they will end up as verbomaniacs anyway)!

Get It Here

Amazon

Writers’ Letters: Jane Austen to Chinua Achebe

Book Info

Title:  Writers’ Letters: Jane Austen to Chinua Achebe
Editors: Michael Bird and Orlando Bird
Publishers: Frances Lincoln (November 9, 2021)
Genre: Essays and Collections
Source: e-RC from NetGalley

Description

Delve into the lives and work of some of the world’s great writers with this intriguing collection of correspondence.
 
There is much to discover in this illustrated compendium of letters written by great novelists, poets, playwrights and essayists, from Cervantes to the present day. One hundred letters and notes from Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac and Chinua Achebe among many others are reproduced, together with a transcript of the correspondence and background details which provide their context. Arranged thematically, the book contains personal musings on love, happiness, work, daily life, money, politics, travel and the creative process.
 
For lovers of literature, these rare documents provide fascinating insights into writers’ daily lives, relationships and work. In the era of SMS, email and instant message, Writers’ Letters reminds us of the treasures to be found in a simple letter.

My Thoughts

I love reading in general (well, of course), as well as reading author biographies and letters that others have written. In addition, I happen to love reading and writing letters anyways (as you might already know)! I talked about the lost art of letter writing a few days ago right here on my blog.

So when I saw this book on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. Writers’ Letters is an excellent curation of well, writer’s letters. Organized into creatively titled chapters (that help group letters by themes), this book includes a diverse group of writers (across time and land) thus ensuring that everyone will find a favorite author or two within its pages. The themed chapters have titles (and sub-titles) like ‘My head is full of pebbles’ (between friends), and ‘Like an old war horse’ (voice of experience).

Each letter includes a photograph as well as text of the original letter (or a part of it) as well as a background that gives the correspondence context and information about the letter, its sender, and its recipient.

With a hundred letters across its pages, this book gives readers a fascinating look into the lives of the writers. Seeing their handwritten (or typed in some cases) letters is like taking a peek into their minds. Some of my favorite letters include Kenneth Grahame’s letter to his young son, as well as Mark Twain’s to Walt Whitman, and Herman Melville’s letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then there are Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning’s letters to each other. One other letter that had an impact was Stefan Zweig’s suicide note, addressed to ‘all his friends.’

The book led me to the discovery of so many friendships among writers (as well as that of writers with other personalities), and while I am not sure if that surprised me, it certainly delighted me.

In Summary

Gift it to all those who love reading, writing, and letters (or to yourself!)

Get It Here

Amazon

Wonderful Words of the Day

For Wondrous Words Wednesday, from today’s featured books (three are taken from my earlier post since I did not link up to WWW that week)

  • astrobleme (n): a mark left by an ancient asteroid or meteorite on earth

Blame the meteorite for the astrobleme. .– from Absurd Words by Tara Lazar

  • monticule (n): a small mountain or hill

Returning from a family holiday in Brittany and Normandy in September 1864, Alfred Tennyson discovered ‘a whole monticule of letters and poems on my drawing room table’. – from Writers’ Letters collected by Michael Bird and Orlando Bird

  • mooniness (n): The quality or condition of being moony; specifically wistfulness, listlessness, dreamy distraction.

“Especially at this day, the volume is welcome, as an antidote to the mooniness of some dreamers — who are merely dreamers — ‘Yet who the devel ain’t a dreamer?’” – from Writers’ Letters collected by Michael Bird and Orlando Bird

  • verboten (adj): forbidden, especially by an authority.

Going into the Forbidden Forest is absolutely verboten – hence the “Forbidden” in its name. – from Absurd Words by Tara Lazar

  • zemblanity (n): the act of making unhappy, expected discoveries (the very opposite of serendipity, which happens to be one of my favorite words)

As zemblanity would have it, Mom’s unsalted mashed potatoes were bland and blech. – from Absurd Words by Tara Lazar

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative! It was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion and is now hosted at Elza Reads.

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, have you read any of the listed books? Or any similar recommendations for me? I would love to hear from you. What is a recent new word you learned? Any favorite wondrous words?

4 thoughts on “A Love Letter to Wondrous Words and the Letters Within

  1. I love Abbey Sy. I have her other books and it has greatly help me practice my calligraphy. Would love to have a copy of this workbook too. Thank you for sharing.

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