Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence, narrated by Stephanie Spicer, is one of those books about books. Hooray, right? Well, it started that way. (I can’t believe there are two colons in the title).
Spence, a librarian, breaks the book into several sections. First, she writes letters to books she has to remove from the library. This was my favorite part. It’s nice to hear about a book lover’s relationship to what she reads, whether it’s love or disbelief that such garbage found a publisher. Each letter is a few minutes long, which is one track on the audio version. Such a feature is fantastic if you listen to audio books in your car. You know that a break is always just a minute or two along the recording! No need to keep hitting the “rewind 30 seconds” button to get your bearings and figure out the context. To know when the little chapter will finish, listen for the “signature,” Annie.
Spence randomly drops F-bombs in the most unnecessary places in her book. Every time it was jarring, and I felt embarrassed for her, as if my boss had just heard me swear. I’m not against cursing in books, but because swears are so potent, they have to be wielded wisely, not ubiquitous, or they lose all meaning and the author ends up sounding like an “edgy” teenager. It’s okay, Spence. You’re an adult. You can do swears. You can eat cake for breakfast. You still shouldn’t do either all the time even though your parents aren’t around to punish you.
Although the voice narrator, Stephanie Spicer, has a clear, easy to understand style of reading, that didn’t make up for the snooze-fest near the end. The author shifts gears and decides it’s appropriate to make a list of books in a book. Books with librarians in them, for example. It’s almost like someone narrated a Goodreads list to me, giving a 1-2 sentence synopsis for each novel. I found it impossible to focus, and on my long commute, this section was a threat to my ability to stay awake.
While Dear Fahrenheit 451 was recommended by The Life and Books of a GorJess Nerd, who found Spence’s book to be a useful tool, I don’t recommend it to avid readers. They already have their own lists of books (and often use spreadsheets and Goodreads to keep it all organized). The tone is of a twenty-something who is attempts to teach others the value of reading by sounding “cool,” which I found off-putting. For another perspective, read the review by Ami @ Luv to Read, who called Spence’s book “uneven.”