Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family." But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn't live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas of books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
It's really hard to sum up my feelings about this book. I loved it, but I can also see why some people would hate it. Also, I hate typing the word "Fahrenheit."
Fahrenheit 451 is a cautionary tale, and one that's relevant even sixty years after its publication. As people take sides on the e-book/printed book debate and declare that the printed word is on its way out, Fahrenheit 451 asks, what if there weren't any books at all? Written around the time TV was becoming popular, Bradbury predicted a world where television replaced books and complacency replaced curiosity. However, despite the growth of technology, good old-fashioned books aren't going anywhere, and our world isn't about to end.
So while the ideas in Fahrenheit 451 are still relevant, they're exaggerated a whole lot. Technology isn't all bad, and not all TV is "mindless chatter." For some people, the amount of exaggeration in the book is just too much. Reading it as the cautionary tale it's meant to be, that's completely understandable. I chose to read it as a story about the importance of books and the ideas they contain. On that front, Fahrenheit 451 hits every mark. Like the expression "You don't know what you have until you lose it," Bradbury emphasizes the importance of books and critical thinking by creating a world without them.
For me, the exaggeration in the book is part of what makes it so good. Occasionally Bradbury goes off on a tangent, some of which are very lengthy, that sound more paranoid than philosophical, but most of them had a few good quotes. One the whole, the book was extremely good, and one I will probably read again.
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