Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review -- "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury

Warning: Spoiler Alert


I've long been a fan of Ray Bradbury, but for some reason, this book was never assigned in school and I'd never gotten around to reading it -- criminal!

Fahrenheit 451, is, of course, the temperature at which paper burns.  This is a book set in the future, and firemen no longer put out fires (in fact, they scoff at the notion that firemen of that sort even existed) -- they START fires.  Specifically, they burn books.

I expected a book about a land of people fighting the firemen, huge crowds of people clamoring against the burning of these books.  What shocked me is Bradbury wrote of a future where people were completely content to live with trivial knowledge and floor-to-ceiling televisions -- televisions that in fact could encompass the entire four walls of a room, where a person could "interact" with insipid and fake families in soap operas.

How sad, and terrifying.

The firemen were there to keep the status quo.  Sure, there were small pockets of people who saved books, but philosophy and freedom of thought was definitely NOT encouraged.  This book centers around a fireman, Montag, who suffers a crisis of thought, and he starts to save books, only to be turned in by his vapid wife.  He runs away, falls in with a small band of scholars who, fearful of being caught WITH books, maintain the books in their head until a day when they hope the world will come back around.

I can't imagine a world without books.  I devour them, and read virtually every day.   And it's no secret that I love to write, and freedom of expression is important to me.  I can't imagine living in a world where this sort of thing would happen -- and yet there are countries NOW where books are burned.  This very country, the US, burned books, banned books, and in some cases, books are still banned in some schools and libraries.

I admit -- some books are vile.  Books about how to make bombs, for instance, are disgusting.  And yet -- the slope becomes slippery awfully darned fast.  That's when I believe freedom of speech on MY part comes up.  If they have the right to write such things, then *I* have the right to proclaim my thoughts about them.

So I ask you -- is there an instance when you would burn a book?


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.


  1. I remember reading this when I was 16, in grade 11 - part of the curriculum. I've never been one for sci-fi, but I have to admit this book affected me!

  2. NEVER! I hate all forms of child abuse and child pornography. I would love to burn those books (and the people who write them for that matter), but, as you said, it's a slippery slope. I don't want us to ever go down that slope. When I hear now that some self-appointed censor is redacting Tom Sawyer or some school is banning To Kill a Mockingbird, I think of this book and of where it could all lead. Too frightening to consider really. BTW, the movie made from this book is pretty good, too.

  3. I love this book. I truly don't think I could ever burn a book, and I don't think they should ever be destroyed. Educate people as to what is wrong with a book's content; sticking your head in the sand never makes anything go away.

  4. Oh boy! My 16 yr old daughter has to read this plus two others for her Honors English class summer reading assignment this summer. She absolutely loves to read, but from your review, I do not think she will like this one at all. Hope I'm wrong.

    She and I both love books! That is something we always stressed to our children....reading! It can take you to places you may never be able to personally visit. It is just the best thing you can do for yourself and your education. Cannot seem to part with them either. If our house caught fire, it would burn for days with all the books and magazines. My husband says we are 'hoarders', oh well. :)

    Going to check and see if you have read the other two on her list.

  5. This book is one of my all time fave books. Actually, anything by Bradbury is a fave. A couple of years ago my husband and I listened to the book narrated by Bradbury on a long road trip. We'd both read it years ago but it brought us back to our oringinal reactions. It is such a powerful book and a very strong reminder that complacency can cost us our liberty in not only freedom of expression but also freedom of thought.


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