Dear Dear Fahrenheit 451

One of the best things about having a local book store is wandering in to browse the shelves for interesting finds. Dear Fahrenheit 451, by Annie Spence, caught my eye on a recent visit and I had to bring it home.

The cover proclaims it “A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life” and that’s a pretty fair assessment.

For the most part, the book is a collection of letters Annie has written to various books (or collections of books) that she’s encountered, but they aren’t necessarily book reviews.

Most are witty (or silly) musings on the books, the people who check them out, or the books she imagines various people (like her pot-smoking, loud-partying, upstairs neighbor) might read. After the letters, there’s a section with various lists, and thoughts, and excuses to give when you’d rather be home reading.

Some pearl-clutching online reviews complain about the “vulgarity” and “four-letter words” in the book, which frankly surprised me. It’s not a children’s book, but the language seemed pretty down-to-earth and typical for an average adult to me. (Especially for a voracious reader!) If cursing and “adult content” bothers you, perhaps skip this one.

As a tribute to this fun and witty read, I’ll wrap up with an Annie-style letter of my own:

Dear Dear Fahrenheit 451,

Your watercolor cover made you a stand-out on the bookstore shelf, but holding you in my hands really sealed the deal. Despite your small size, you have that hollow heft of an artfully case bound book and your soft pages, though smooth-edged, give the impression of a near-deckle. You have just the right weight and texture to make me (partially) regret the convenience of my Kindle.

While I don’t agree with all of your opinions, many of your letters made me smile, chuckle, roll my eyes, shake my head, or talk back to you out loud–the way a good book should.

Your letter to The Time Traveler’s Wife captured my own love of the book, but also highlighted how a reader can get different things out of a story by simply rereading it at different stages in life. Your ode to Color Me Beautiful brought back some ridiculous childhood memories, and your take on Forever managed to capture the illicit adolescent thrill of passing around this infamous “dirty” book.

Speaking of dirty books, you’re wise enough to see that actual erotica by writers like Anais Nin is incomparable to that Fifty Shades nonsense, while still making me laugh at the idea of your having to explain erotica to little old lady library patrons. It took you a while to come around to the truth of The Giving Tree, but I’m glad that you finally see its horror. (Yes, Tree was not happy!)

As an adult, you realized that Bunnicula (the children’s book about a vampire bunny) wasn’t scary once you finally read the whole story. I hope you’ll learn from that and also give Anna Karenina another chance.

On the whole, you were enjoyable and you have encouraged me to dust off some of the books on my own to-be-read shelf. You also brought a few unknown books to my attention. Though I’ll likely skip Cornzapoppin’!: Popcorn Recipes and Party Ideas for All Occasions.

                                         Thanks for sharing,
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