Reading Diary

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks

Annie Spence—2017—Flatiron Books

In Dear Fahrenheit 451, librarian Annie Spence has crafted love letters and breakup notes to both the iconic and the eclectic books she has encountered over the years. From her breakup letter to The Giving Tree (a dysfunctional relationship book if there ever was one) to her love letter to the The Time Traveler’s Wife (a novel less about time travel and more about the life of a marriage, with all of its ups and downs). Spence will make you think of old favorites in a new way.

Started reading November 1, 2019.

etta and otto and russell and james

Emma Hooper—2015—Simon & Schuster

Otto finds the note left by his wife in the kitchen of their farmhouse in windswept Saskatchewan. Eighty-three-year-old Etta will be walking 3,200 kilometers to see the ocean, but somehow Otto understands. He took his own journey once before, to fight in a faraway land. With Etta gone, Otto struggles with his demons of war, while their friend Russell pursues the woman he has loved from afar. And James—well, James you have to meet on the page.

Read October 29 – 31, 2019

I loved, loved, loved this story. It got confusing at first because the writer not only skips in between the characters, but skips back-and-forth through time. We’ve all at one point or another wanted to get away—just take off on our own and explore. Etta does just that—while in her eighties! Every character is endearing, especially James (which I won’t spoil for you readers). You wouldn’t think there is anything too complex in their personalities as you read along, but once you finish the story, there’s a realization of their individual complexity. Emma Hooper writes simply and beautifully, offering a depth of character with both Etta and Otto—I miss them already and want more. I must also mention in that being an American, it’s always fun to read the work from other countries. Even though Canada is our neighbor, the culture is obviously different and I learned a few things—and not just how many kilometers are in a mile.

Almost Golden: Jessica Savitch and the Selling of Television News

Gwenda Blair—1988—Simon & Schuster

A network anchor at thirty-one, Jessica Savitch came up on the fast rack in the hectic, hard-driving world of television news. Ambitious, beautiful and intelligent, she had the kind of on-screen charisma that boosted ratings, turned her into one of the most trusted people in America and made her a candidate for the network’s most sought-after spot: the main anchor chair on the nightly news. But by the time of her accidental death in 1993, Jessica Savitch—plagued by drugs, depression and disastrous romances—had already lost her race for the top. Almost Golden is her story, a compelling personal drama and an unsettling behind-the-scenes look at television news, a world where the quest for celebrity and the values of journalism often collide.

Read October 14 – 28, 2019.

I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of production whether it be television or film. This book really broadened my knowledge of the news media industry and all involved from the beginning of broadcast journalism via radio. Gwenda Blair did an excellent job in her research and expository writing. I appreciated the background and insight into the drive Jessica Savitch had to become a news anchor. Although it is a tragic story, we have the benefit of looking at her path and determining where and what she did wrong. We don’t get that in life and as the saying goes…hindsight is 20/20. Jessica’s goal didn’t really seem to be a TV news journalist, but rather a TV news starand that she did. If she seemed difficult to deal with, a lot stemmed from the limitations women had in pursuing any career, other than that of a secretary. I highly recommend reading this if (a) you love biographies; and (b) you want to break into broadcast journalism. Women can learn from Jessica’s mistakes and take advantage of her strategies. Her story haunts me even days after I’ve finished reading as I can appreciate the never-ending drive to achieve your goals and the obstacles that sometimes prevent them.

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