Letters in Books

So in a recent trip to my hometown I had a bit of a charity book shop! This month has been really been a book-buying month for me and it’s been wonderful!

But this post is not about my shopping experience, it is about a little book I found in an Oxfam shop.

I found a book called ‘Ways to Live Forever’ by Sally Nicholls. The story itself revolves around a young boy who is dying of cancer, who collects ‘stories’ and tries to find answers for questions before he dies.

I have been interested in reading this book before but I have never actually picked it up, so when I saw it in the charity shop I opened it and what I found just got me thinking:

Inside was a letter written by the previous, or one of the previous, owners who explains why she has given away the book and her hopes for the reader.

The letter goes as thus:

“Dear Reader,

I am unaware as to how this book came to be in your hands. Perhaps you bought it for £1.50 in a charity shop, or borrowed it from a friend. Whatever the passage, I could not be more excited for you right now. At this very moment you are about to embark on a literary journey that potentially change your life.

Since finishing this book 12 years ago, I have read it a total of 15 times. I am now 20, and it’s time for me to part with Sam. I am doing this partly to cut down in my ever-growing book collection, but also because I want someone else to get the same amount of joy and inspiration from Ways to Live Forever as I did.

Live every day as if it is your last, love endlessly, and stay young.

All the best on your journey!”

Upon reading this I couldn’t not buy the book. I do aim to read it also, but the letter just got me thinking What a nice gesture and what a nice story too.

Imagine where all your books have come from, all the previous owners and the previous thoughts.

Did the previous owner cry when reading this book? Did they love or hate it? Did they get it as an unwanted/wanted gift? Did they read it in one sitting? Did it gather dust for years? Etc.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that books have more stories than just the stories within.

It’s also easy to forget how much joy other people can get from reading, I certainly enjoy it I wouldn’t be writing this blog otherwise but this letter made me appreciate the written word all over again.

Slightly cheesy, I know, but there we have it. I hope to return this book to a charity shop upon reading it, perhaps with my own little note inside it. I may also write a letter in a favourite book of my own and drop it off in a charity shop and hope someone, somewhere, picks it up and experiences the same feelings and thoughts I got.

Until then,

Happy Reading Folks! J


  1. The best note I've ever found in a book was in a Yeats anthology and read:

    Lovely Jen,

    I hope you love the words written by this genius as much as I do. Oh... and you are just gorgeous! Have I ever mentioned that?!!! :)

    Unfortunately, I had trouble reading the name of the person who'd written the note but they signed it with three kisses!

  2. Aww, how sweet! I wonder how that relationship ended if the book ended up back for sale?? Hmm...intriguing :)