Falling in love, making out

I don't know if you guys know this (it's okay, I didn't until Thursday) but John Steinbeck, the Nobel Prize recipient and author of wonderful books like The Grapes of Wrath, has a published book full of letters he has written: Steinbeck: A Life in Letters.

These aren't just letters, they are profound, eloquent and somewhat tear-jerking letters (well, maybe if you just can't control your emotions like me).

Steinbeck wrote the below letter to his son Thom in 1958 after Thom opened up to him about falling in deep love with a girl named Susan while away at boarding school.

Steinbeck writes the most timeless words to his son that I think anyone can relate to; I felt nothing short of compelled to share this:

New York
November 10, 1958
Dear Thom:
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.
First -- if you are in love -- that's a good thing -- that's about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don't let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second -- There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you -- of kindness and consideration and respect -- not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply -- of course it isn't puppy love.
But I don't think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it -- and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone -- there is no possible harm in saying so -- only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.
Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another -- but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.
Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I'm glad you have it.
We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.
And don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens -- The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

(via the Atlantic)


  1. I love John Steinbeck - he's one of my favorite authors!

  2. What a sweet letter! Every kid should be so lucky to have a dad as supportive as Thom's.

  3. Absolutely amazing. I am kind of ashamed I hadn't heard of this until now. Definitely putting in a purchase order now.

  4. @Tom I know, I am put off that I had just heard of it too!

  5. This was lovely! I read Grapes of Wrath, and was pretty much the only one in my class that liked it. Haha! I loved how he opened this letter. That will be a great quote to keep in mind. :)

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  6. "Nothing good gets away" I loved this. IT'S LIKE HE WAS WRITING TO MEEEEEEE. Needed to read this.

  7. This was an amazing letter! I wish somebody wrote one like that to me :P I love snail mail, it's priceless and timeless :) Not like emails >_<

  8. @Madison: that was my favorite line of the letter too! Great words!

    @Colette: it's 2012 girl! Snail mail your year!




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