Book Review - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Yes, I *do* read classics once in a while... :-) Our local library was sponsoring a program called "Everyone Reads" where a number of people all read the same book and have discussions about it. Fahrenheit 451 was the featured book, and I've been meaning to reread it anyway. You probably already know the storyline... Reading books is a banned activity, and firemen are not used to put out fires, but to burn down houses where books are being covertly hidden. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper burns, hence the title. The main character, Montag, starts to wonder why people would still risk having books, and ends up becoming a book hoarder himself. His house is burned down, and he flees before he can be arrested. He meets up with other readers in the countryside and decides to remember and preserve books rather than return to the city, which, by the way, just got anniliated by atomic warfare...
This isn't so much a novel as a longer short story critiquing society's ever-decreasing attention span and lack of time spent actually thinking. Everything is based on entertainment, and ideas and concepts are spoonfed to the public in short, repeated soundbites. Sound disturbingly familiar? I found it amazing that, 50 years after having written the book, Bradbury's view of the future isn't that far removed from reality. We don't burn down houses with books, but we try to censor ideas and make everything "politically correct" so that no one is offended.
This particular paperback edition is the 50th anniversary edition of the book, and features an interview with the writer at the end. He also expounds on what the characters in the book would say and do now if the book were to be expanded.
Well worth reading (or reading again if you haven't done so lately).