Title: Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
Author: Annie Spence
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published: September 26th, 2017


This is not one of my usual book reviews because this is a very unusual book. Dear Fahrenheit 451 is a book for book lovers. It’s the first book I’ve ever stopped in the middle of so that I could order a copy to give to a friend. (Yes I did.) But if you are a book nerd like me, you cannot help but be enthralled by Annie Spence’s “love letters and break up notes to the iconic and eclectic books she has encountered over the years.”

Although it’s not strictly books. This collection of messages, sometimes serious, sometimes sentimental or silly, includes personal notes like “Dear Books I Imagine My Upstairs Neighbor Reads” and “Dear Fancy Bookshelf at a Party I Wasn’t Technically Invited To.” If you’ve ever craned your neck to see what a stranger is reading on the subway or at the next table at a restaurant, or if snooping through someone’s bookcase is more enlightening to you than taking a peek at his medicine cabinet, then this book is for you. There’s also “Dear Book That Jeffery Eugenides May Have Owned and Written Personal Notes In,” and a message to the Harlequin Romance Spinner Rack at the library in which the author writes “You are brimming with romantic possibilities. A full rack of full racks.” I had to laugh.

Seriously, this is a book to read purely for pleasure. Spence’s wide range of literary selections was truly eclectic and included selections such as Anna Karenina, Stephen King’s Misery, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, To Kill a Mockingbird, Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot, The Namesake, and a few unexpected titles like The One-Hour Orgasm and Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. Something for everyone, right?

With wit and wisdom, Spence details the many reasons why she has or has not connected with the texts in this text. Reflecting on one of her favorite protagonists, she writes “I’ve been with a lot of books and had other characters who’ve imprinted themselves on my heart. But your main character Toad is my spirit animal. For starters, we are both pear shapes. But it’s so much more than body types.” (Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, in case you were wondering.)

You may not agree with all of Spence’s opinions. I didn’t, especially when she suggested ways The Hobbit could have been improved: “Maybe have Bilbo hang out with other hobbits for a little longer. Smoke some pipe-weed. Get into trouble. Find a lady friend. Make merriment.”

It matters not. Whether you agree with Spence or not, you are sure to be reminded of your own relationships with books you loved and books that tore your heart out; characters you fell for, and others who may have scarred you for life. It reminded me not only of the books in my past but of the people who placed those books in my hands or on my list. And you may add a few new books to your must-read list. I hope this is one of them.

Witty, wonderful and a bit wacky; a book for book lovers.

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