Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life
Author: Annie Spence
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Librarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover’s birthday present, stocking stuffer, holiday gift, and all-purpose humor book.
If I could pick any job when I grow up (or rather when I finally admit I have to grow up), it would be to either a) own my own bookstore (focusing solely on romances) or b) become a librarian. I’ve been exceptionally lucky to have awesome librarians in my life over the years who cemented my love of reading and after reading Dear Fahrenheit 451, I would add Annie Spence to a list of virtual/written librarians who have influenced me.
The premise of Dear Fahrenheit 451 is simple – its love (or break up) letters to various books that she has encountered over the years. The books she has written letters to run from children’s classics like The Giving Tree to Matilda; from Twilight to Fifty Shades of Grey (and the fabulous line – you made me say “erotica” to an old lady” and To Kill A Mockingbird to the title book, Fahrenheit 451. Some of the letters are short and others longer – it made for a quick and easy read while I was catching the short commuter bus that took me from the parking lot to my work building for several days (yeah, I can be kind of lazy at times and its getting cold). Several of her letters really made me stop and think about books that had influenced my life and how I would write letters to them if given the opportunity.
While many of the books were fairly commonplace ones that many readers would recognize, there were also some complete left-field books – that kind of made me scratch my head and think, someone actually wrote a book about this – such as “Pictorial Anatomy of a Cat” or “Cult of the Born-Again Virgin” – not diminishing the books themselves (ok well actually maybe I am), but…umm, yeah – I got nothing…kind of makes me wonder what is lost in the shelves at my local library – those books that may not have seen daylight in years and where do they go when the library decides they are no longer worth keeping (i’m guessing to our Friends of the Library sale to go to another home).
While I’m not sure I’ll ever start writing love letters to books – although after reading this, I feel like I should pay more attention to how books make me feel; what kind of feelings or memories do they invoke. I do know that if I were to do something similar to this, that the first book(s) that I would probably mention would be The Babysitter’s Club books – as a 7 year old, I got a box set of the first 6 and devoured them; and then secondly, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – my first foray into Fantasy (although it wasn’t until I reread as an adult that I picked up on all the Christian allegory). It was because of all these reasons, that I give Dear Fahrenheit 451 4 stars