Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

Our county library system does an "Everybody Reads" program every year, where they pick one book and get as many people to read it as possible. There are related discussion groups, movie screenings, plays, poetry readings, and even music for about a month. I don't know what they've done in the past, but this year's pick was Bradbury's classic about a world where firemen track down books and burn them.

I read it long ago (I've always been a Bradbury fan) but there's quite a bit I had forgotten. It was written in early 1950s, and is quite prescient: people surround themselves with big-screen TVs and have tiny Seashell radios in their ears; nobody sits around and just talks anymore—everyone's too concerned with "being happy." Guy Montag is a fireman who's been burning books happily for years, and various things happen to shake up his worldview.

While I doubt our society will ever get to the point of burning books (after all, they're such a small matter compared to all the other things we have to worry about; and besides, books are big business), our society is concerned with being happy, with watered-down pre-digested information from the mass media, with driving fast and keeping the noise turned up. We can't resist police chases and scandal; we really don't read much, and we certainly don't get out and experience things.

Fahrenheit 451 is a fantastic book and definitely one that's good for discussion, especially in light of current events. Check it out! Everybody's doing it. :)

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 06, 2004