The book club met tonight and we discussed Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The member who suggested the book was drawing again from his famous banned books list.
It was a good discussion because there were eight of us there, and six disliked the book. Always good to have a disagreement! Even though Bradbury didn’t like his book shelved under the science fiction genre, that’s where it has landed in most people’s minds. And, generally, people either like or dislike science fiction.
For a book published in 1953 though, everyone marveled at how many of his fantasies in the book have turned out to be true today. In the story, most of the people spend their entire days watching a wall of television—with many homes having three “walls” and considering getting a fourth. They interact with the stories on the wall rather than with people in their family or community.
The plot hinges on the idea that books are not good for society, and must be eradicated. In the case of Fahrenheit 451, they must be burned. (Supposedly, the temperature at which books burn is 451 degrees Fahrenheit . . . ) The hero is a fireman, and instead of saving houses from fires, he starts them if there are books in the house.
I had read the book in 2004 and chose not to reread it, so I mainly listened to others’ comments. Everyone agreed, some grudgingly, that it deserves its place on the top 100 or whatever of reading lists, and should be read in high school.
Next month: Watership Down by Richard Adams.