When our family relocated this summer it meant a lot of
things, but one of the biggest things it meant was changing schools for the kids. The
first thing the counselor did was hand our fourteen year old the summer reading list with
the recommendation (a demand really) to get busy, because she was way
Flipping through the list I spotted Ray Bradburyís classic
Fahrenheit 451. Iíve had my paperback copy of that book for nearly twenty five
years now, which meant of course that there was no way my step-daughter was going to read
it. I decided to read it again and am glad I did.
The firemen in this
book donít ride big shiny red trucks through town to save people and buildings from being
consumed by flames. Instead they make their midnight runs to start fires... fires
required by law. Itís the job of these firemen to burn books.
character of the book, Guy Montag, is having a midlife crisis of sorts. Heís bored with
the life he is leading and tired of his pestering spouse. She keeps chiding him for not
working hard enough to buy the one thing that will make their home complete...wall sized
television monitor for the only wall in the living room that doesnít already have one.
In the midst of his doldrums, he begins to notice that the teenaged girl next door is
different from everyone else in town. Sheís more interested in the outside world than
the world on her television.
She confides in him that most of her
seemingly crazy ideas come from books sheís seen and read. He befriends her instead of
turning her in and when she disappears he decides he has to change the way heís been
He begins to collect books himself. Guy mistakenly lets his
wife in on the secret and she of course turns him in. His chief more or less knew what
was going on before hand and had tried to warn Guy that it couldnít last long. One night
Guy is called out on a run, this one to burn his own stash of books. Guy runs from the
law and meets with a group of outlawed intellectuals that have a plan for saving the
books of the world.
More than half a century removed from its original
printing, this book still carries a message for the reader. The message that censorship
is wrong, and that anyone who tries to stifle the thoughts of another man is committing a
crime against all men is one that will always resonate.
Bradbury is at his
finest here, with tightly woven plot lines and characters that could be alive and living
near you today. There are over five million copies of this book in print. It has been
made into a play, and a couple of movie treatments. This is a book you need to have in
your permanent collection.