ARC Review: Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence

DearFahrenheit451CoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: A 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.

Genre: Nonfiction, Letter format
Setting: As this is really just letters to books or lists of book recommendations, there isn’t any specific setting except for, perhaps, a library.

***I received a copy of Dear Fahrenheit 451 from Flatiron Books via NetGalley***

***This post contains affiliate links***

Review: A fun read that is dangerous for your TBR! Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence is a fun book geared towards readers. Annie is a librarian, and the majority of the book is her writing letters towards various books. Some books that she has loved (The Virgin Suicides), others ones that she dislikes (Fifty Shades of Grey), and others that are just plain different (Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis). The letters are fun and lighthearted, and for the most part don’t give away too many spoilers for the contents of books indicated. Most of the books that Annie writes to are titles that I haven’t read, but I was still able to enjoy this book.

Since the book is told in letter format, the tone is conversational, and Annie’s voice is humorous and chock-full of literary and pop culture references. At some points it felt like the author was trying to impress with all of the titles she was dropping, but other times it felt authentic and real.

One of the highlights for me was the letter to The Time Traveler’s Wife, as it talked about reading books at different points in ones life, and also the letter to The Virgin Suicides. I haven’t yet read The Virgin Suicides, but now I definitely will at some point as Annie writes so passionately about the book, it really draws you in. Besides letters to specific books, she also has a few letters addressed to bookshelves. Letter to a Fancy Bookshelf, the fancy bookshelf being one she sees while at a fancy party, was hilarious. There’s also a letter to the Public Library’s Children’s Section that is powerful as it briefly touches on future readers and writers.

One particularly funny letter was written to a book called Color Me Beautiful, which is a manual about colors (think clothing and makeup) and even though I haven’t read this book, I recall my mom talking about colors, and discussions on whether I was a Summer, Spring, Winter, or Fall. So this letter was nostalgic and fun to read. I can’t remember which season I am, but I do know that I shouldn’t wear orange!

Another fun letter was the one written to the Easy Rawlins Mystery Series, which is set in Los Angeles during the 40s through 60s. I haven’t read this series, but the letter was very cute as it discusses how Annie would alter her behavior to be more mysterious when reading these books. Those who read mysteries, particularly noir mysteries, will enjoy this particular letter as we’ve all done that while immersed in our mysteries.

Towards the end of the book the letters stop and the book shifts gears and turns into lists of book recommendations (ie, books with librarians as characters, books that take you away, books to recommend to your lover, etc). These sections felt like I was reading a Top Ten Tuesday post, or similar post, on a book blog. But a post without pictures of the book covers or links to Amazon and Goodreads. It was strange to be reading someone’s list of Good Books with Bad Covers and not have an actual picture of the bad cover be visible. I get that the author was a librarian and knows a lot of books, but I couldn’t picture any of these book covers in my head while reading this section, and I wonder how many people will be able to picture these covers. This section in particular I did gloss over. I did read an eARC of the book, so perhaps this is just a formatting issue that is fixed in the final version. I don’t really know, but this whole list section felt like an afterthought and I didn’t think the lists were necessary. I would’ve much rather just had the letters. And more of them!

One thing I do need to add is there is quite a bit of swearing and sexual references in the book. So if that’s not your thing, be warned! Also, the book isn’t all that long, Goodreads has it listed at 288 pages, and the way Annie Spence writes is very easy to read and moves along at a brisk pace. I would’ve read this book in one sitting if I could!

So while readers who love reading about books and reading will enjoy this, and I do think there is something here for every reader, the book felt uneven and slightly pretentious as it discussed books. There are so many books listed here, and I did add several to my TBR. I didn’t add more because I didn’t want to stop reading and head over to Amazon where my TBR list is. I would’ve been constantly stopping and looking books up online. So, this book could be very dangerous to one’s already toppling TBR list!

Bottom Line: An uneven, quick, fun read for those who love books and reading.

***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I get a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***

Amazon | Goodreads

Does this sound like a good read? Do you love books about books? Have you ever had your colors done?


12 thoughts on “ARC Review: Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence

  1. ooh this does sound like a great book for booklovers. The only thing I’m having a bit of reservations over is the issue with the lists in the middle- I think it would irritate me a little to be honest. But I do like books about books and I’m glad I’m unpretentious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 it’s great fun! So many of the books sounded good and interesting, and even if I hadn’t read that particular title, I was still able to understand the spirit of the book and how it made the author feel.
      The lists were odd – it really disrupted the flow of the book!


  2. I had my colors done as a kid, and now I can’t remember what they are! It was a very in thing to do at the time, and my mom was very serious about it. I think this book sounds cute, but I would agree with the recommendation for pics when it comes to covers and books that we aren’t familiar with. I hope they rectify that in the final copy.
    Sounds like a good book, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it was an enjoyable read that helped to build up my TBR 🙂 I had forgotten all about having ones colors done, but then I read this and it took me right back there – I love it when books do that!


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