Fahrenheit 451: Or why we all need to slow down and read more

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

This is another one of those canon classics that I never read when I was younger and in school. And I'm glad. Reading it now, as an adult in a media saturated time of history, is a kick in the ass I would never have gotten as a teenager.


We all know this is the book about burning books, right? Yes? Okay. Moving on from that: the scariest thing about this story isn't that they burn books (although that is alarming), it's the reason why. Books are a representation of thought, and the people in this world shun thinking. Stopping to think, and reason, and communicate can lead to feeling unhappy. And we can't have that! So everyone stays as busy, and as distracted as humanly possible, so that they never stop long enough to realize how miserable they are. And that, my friends, is spookily similar to a lot of trends I've been observing in our culture right now. I'm not going to get on my soapbox, don't worry. But I will say that this book dovetails nicely with some nonfiction being written right now, like Bright-sided and The Age of American Unreason.


Yes, yes, you're saying. But did I like it? The answer is yes, I did like it. Just as I liked 1984. The two have a lot of similarities, including that distinct tone that a lot of speculative fiction has from that era (translation: it can feel dated). I'm glad I read this now, and I'm heartened to see that this book is still being read. Perhaps if we all keep reading, and thinking, this is one future we can avoid. For now I'm adding this to my pile of cautionary tales.