Recently I have had the privilege of being selected to participate in World Book Night 2013. If WBN is new to you, the general goal of world book night is to, “Spread the love of reading, person to person.”
If you haven’t heard of WBN, I would encourage you to take a few moments and research what they are about. The chance to pass of the love of reading to others, especially in our media frenzied culture, is vitally important.
The book I will be passing out on April 24th is Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.
This was a book I was excited to read. Having read Brave New World and 1984, I have found that I am typically a fan of books with where the setting lies in a cold, haunting dystopian futures. Strange? Sure…there is just something intriguing about them.
Originally published in 1953, Bradbury has created a world that, in many ways, closely mirrors our own. He paints a picture of a world unconcerned with knowledge, and the need for people to hold differing opinions. We witness a world that has ceased paying attention to nature, spends all their time and money following television shows and sports teams (or other mind numbing distractions), and who’s only literary choices are comic books and pornographic magazines.
Emotional experience: The characters are deep, complex and filled with conflicting human emotions. Guy wrestles with many of the human emotions we commonly feel, but we witness as he experiences them in a world that tells him that he is wrong for feeling them.
The ending: While I won’t give away the details of the ending, I will say that this ending was very satisfying. As I finished the novel, and as I reflected on the events that unfolded through the course of the story, I realized that this was the perfect way to tie the book together.
Written over the course of 9 days on a pay-per-hour typewriter in the basement of the UCLA library, this book is 179 pages in length. As the arc of the story unfolded, and as the character developed and as we reached the climax of the book, I couldn’t help but feel as though something were missing. The quality of content was exceptional, but I felt the jump from inciting incident to climax happened too quickly, and left me with a feeling that I missed something along the way.
All things considered, though, this book was a wonderful read. I can see how and why this book as traveled through the 20th century with the label “masterpiece.” And I can see why people have referred to Fahrenheit as an important book conveying an important message… a message we would we wise to heed:
“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They’re Caeser’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, “Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal.” Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”
We must never abandon our desire to learn.