Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not. No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. Of course you couldn’t know this, of course you still can’t understand what I mean when I say all this.
One-sentence summary: In future America, books are illegal, and it is the job of firemen to burn down any house that contains them.
When read: First read as a teenager; reread sometime in my 20s.
Why read: It’s a classic work of dystopian fiction and American literature that everyone should read. Also, Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors.
Impressions: More than fifty years later, Fahrenheit 451 remains relevant; and the older I get, the more meaning it has for me. Anyone familiar with Bradbury knows that his writing is poetical, yet spare – saying quite a lot in only a few pages. I hold Fahrenheit 451 up with Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Martian Chronicles as Bradbury’s triple punch – three books that will have a lasting impact on the people who read them. But Fahrenheit 451 is by far his best, and if you only read one Bradbury, this is the one.
Current status: I have a copy in my permanent library. I plan to reread it again and again. In fact, it may be time to reread it in honor of Mr. Bradbury’s passing.
- The title refers to the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns.
- The third issue of the first edition was bound in asbestos board. It must be valuable, but would you want it in your house?
If you liked this book, then you might also like:
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood