I’m so tempted to frame this review as a letter to the book in question. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I think I should.
Dear Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks,
You are exactly what a book about books should be.
You are witty and charming and irreverent, and I loved every second I spent with you. I borrowed you from the library, but I think I’m going to have to save up and buy a copy of you for myself, because you absolutely rock. There’s this shelf in my study full of like-minded books who I’m sure would love to meet you. It’s crowded right now, but you deserve a place there. Some of your more disappointing compatriots will just have to move to the back so you can take centerstage.
Your subtitle, A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in her Life, was just such a perfect description of you. I’m a sucker for epistolary books as well as books about books, and libraries have always been my happy place, so you checked all kinds of boxes for me before I ever even cracked your cover. I was honestly kind of nervous to open you, because you looked so perfect on the surface that I was scared your beauty would turn out to be only skin deep. How wrong I was.
Annie, the hilarious librarian who penned you, has radically different tastes in book than me. Her all-time favorite book is one of my least favorite books I’ve ever read, one of less than half a dozen I hated enough to rate one-star on Goodreads. The book made me so angry that I actually went and threw it in the trunk of my car when I finished reading it, intending to sell it back to the used book store. But I kept forgetting, and then the store closed down, so I threw it in the back of a closet instead of even tucking it in a back bottom corner of one of my shelves; I didn’t think it deserved the space. I’ve only ever loathed one book enough to set it on fire after reading it (gives stink eye to the charred remains of Joyce’s Ulysses), but this book ran a close second. After hearing Annie gush so much about it (The Virgin Suicides, in case anyone was wondering) while I perused your pages, I actually went and dug in the closet until I found my copy. I dusted it off, and gave it a tiny sliver of my shelf space. It might be in the back corner of a bottom shelf, but I decided that I might give it another try one day. All thanks to you, Dear. You really know how to entice a girl into lowering her literary inhibitions. Your pages also lauded Wuthering Heights, but my opinion on that one didn’t change. I do have some standards.
Annie is a fan of juicy memoirs and cozy stories set in idyllic little towns. I’m an escapist, and prefer my books fantastical. But you made me consider reading outside my comfort zone. You’re smart and funny and a little judgmental, and I wish I still had you so I could flip through your pages and tell you all the ways your author and I are different readers, but why we would be friends anyway. She loves books just for being books, and so do I. There were a couple of your letters that I related to so hard. “Dear Magnificent Library Featured in Beauty and the Beast Movie” could have come straight from my brain. Belle was my hero when I was a little girl, because she was a brave, brainy brunette bookworm, and I wanted to be her. Plus, that library, y’all. I have a might need for that library. Also, “Dear Fancy Bookshelf at a Party I wasn’t Technically Invited To” was hilarious, and spending all of my time staring at a bookshelf while at someone else’s house is something I’ve totally done.
All of that to say, I loved reading you. You made me giggle and rethink books I hated and remember books I loved. You added books to my gigantic reading list, which I’m not positive I should be thanking you for, since it would take me four lifetimes to read the books already on that list. But most of all, thanks for just being you, Dear Fahrenheit 451. You were a pleasure to read, and I’m totally adding you to my Christmas list.
Hope to see you again soon,
You can purchase a copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!
This review was originally written in October 2017.