To be read with: any hard liquor shot lit on fire; the incendiary liquid heating your face and pushing you towards revolution.
I had no idea what Fahrenheit 451 was about. I had heard the title, and liked the book cover, so I bought it at a library book sale a while back. Since then it had been in repose on my bookshelf, collecting dust. After forgetting my current read at work over the weekend, I selected Ray Bradbury off the shelf, and my world was ignited (honestly, this is going to be a very flammable review).
This book had so many things I could connect with. Even though it was written in 1953, it reads like it could be modern. The world is solely focused on the consumption and regurgitation of mindless entertainment and dangerous recreation that they do not realize they are living in a society devoid of intelligence and genuine feeling. The reader explores this depressing (and suicidal) dystopia through the eyes of the main character Guy Montag. Guy Montag is a fire fighter, who does not put out fires, but starts them instead. The firemen of this future society are alerted to citizens that keep secret caches of banned or forbidden books and torch their homes and arrest them. The general idea is that books can never agree on anything, therefore by wiping them out completely, society is then sanitized of conflict. This is not exactly what ends up happening, as seen through the high numbers of suicide attempts and the very disturbing pastimes of the futuristic youth.
The core message of Fahrenheit 451 really resounded with me. I am, of course, an avid bibliophile and the thought of a world where books were hunted and ignited really shook me. I think it shook me because there have always been banned books and book burnings in society, so this novel lets the reader see what would happen if that were a majority institution. You cannot ignore, then fear, then hunt intellect and scholars, the alternative of a world without those things is much worse. I can also understand the stress of trying to write without offending particular sects or groups, which is a theme that Bradbury comes back to a couple times. For this, I can offer no solution. It’s been 63 years since this was written, and we’re still dealing with this issue.
I was really inspired by this novel, and I am amazed that no one had ever recommended this to me before. I am now going to be that annoying person pushing this book on anyone and everyone. The concept and the writing were both so clear and beautiful, this novel flies by and is such a short read. Pick it up if you haven’t already. Read it again if it’s been a while. All I want is a future with Shakespeare and Voltaire and Hemingway, and I mean if it comes down to it, whoever the heck wrote Twilight. Let all the books live, so that we can have the opportunity to choose what we read, what we believe, what we fight for.