Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks

Author: Annie Spence
Genre: Non-Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 241
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Flatiron Books
First Published: September 26, 2017
First Line: "Dear Reader, welcome to Fahrenheit 451."

Book Description from GoodReadsA Gen-X librarian's snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.

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.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

My Review: As a devoted lover of books and someone whose work and private lives pretty much revolve around books this book is right up my alley. Spence is funny, ridiculously well-read and clever making this romp through her favs (and not so favs) an enjoyable ride.

The first three-quarters of the book are filled with wee snippets of break-up/love letters to the books in Spence's life as a public librarian. The last quarter is a Reader's Advisory nirvana where Spence offers up book suggestions in various groupings like, "Menage a Livre" (you and two books), Books About Girls and Romance That Don't Make Me Wince Like Twilight, Books for the Lazy, the Lively, the Long-Winded, and the Lethargic etc. 

Had I read all the books she mentioned? Oh hell no. I read over 100 books/year and I felt like I needed to up my game. Did we bond over liking all the same books?  Nope again. I didn't like some of the books she mentioned and probably would have enjoyed it even more if I had read most of the books discussed but she did broaden my horizons and you've gotta appreciate that. 

The style of the book has a 'girlfriend chatty' vibe which I enjoyed. I also liked that she shows that library staff aren't a bunch of support hose-wearing, pinched-faced shushers who only wear cardigans. Library staff are witty, engaging, love to share their knowledge and love of reading. And they wear cardigans because they're cool!!

Spence is funny, engaging, irreverent and sarcastic. She is my patronus (if you have to look up what a patronus is we can't be friends). I'd find myself snickering out loud during my lunch break and wanting to share the funny tidbits with my fellow library staff. Some of the funniest moments are when she's discussing the Harlequin Romance Spinner Rack, or helping her fellow book nerds by offering "Excuses to Tell Your Friends So You Can Stay Home With Your Books" (I'm going to ask my friends and family to not read that section). Or "Turning Your Lover into a Reader" - I almost inhaled that page since my husband is unequivocally a *whispered* non-reader. Gasp!

Annie Spence, you and I are kindred spirits. We are unabashedly book nerdigans who eat, breathe and sleep books. Whether you are a voracious or occasional reader yourself, or whether you agree with Spence's book choices or not, you will be entertained by her comments. Your TBR list will grow exponentially, you will have a deep desire to visit your local library and, quite possibly, give your library staff a big 'ol thumbs up for the great work that they do.

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