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Burning Books is a Horrible Idea

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Set in a futuristic society where firemen start fires, Fahrenheit 451 delves into a time when books are banned; and burned when found. TVs take up multiple walls in homes and are the sole form of entertainment. No one questions this and all believe books are unnecessary and should be burned.  Until Guy Montag meets Clarisse, a young woman so different from anyone he has ever met.  He begins to question why things are the way they are.  His whole world gets flipped inside out and we are taken along for the ride.

I never read this book in high school or college, but it is one of those books you hear about and wonder: a book about burning books?  So one day while in Target I saw it on the shelf for a few dollars and thought, I should just buy it and finally see what it’s all about. Fast forward a couple of months and I finally started reading it.  I just finished it last night.

It was not what I was expecting, though if you asked me, I couldn’t really tell you what I did expect. I didn’t connect with Montag. I thought it moved very quickly, but was kind of jumpy…almost like following Montag’s train of thought while he was completely confused.  Some parts I didn’t even quite understand exactly what was happening.  I understand the idea of censorship put forward but I guess I find it more difficult to believe considering today’s society.  I think it would be extremely difficult to reach the level of censorship found in the book today. When it was first published 50+ years ago it may have seemed more possible (especially considering Hitler’s book burning only a decade before) and even scary, but I just don’t see it happening today.

It’s not a book I would consider reading again any time soon and I wonder how I would have reacted to it had I read it in school.  I probably would not have liked it then.  Maybe someday in the future I will re-read it again and connect with it on a different level.

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3 thoughts on “Burning Books is a Horrible Idea

  1. I think censorship takes a very different form nowadays. Rather than preventing you from, for example, writing books, the system now just makes it really hard for your books or words to reach others. Technology like blogs can subvert that a little bit, but the mainstream media is owned by fewer companies than ever before, so we get a lot of variety, but it’s just a few corporations choosing what those options are.

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    1. Thanks for responding 🙂

      I do agree that it is very different today, but I somewhat disagree that it’s very hard to get your stuff out there. There are plenty of people who have published books, essays, etc. onto many different sites (I’ve noticed some through the Sony eReader store for example) and if it’s free people may stop to check it out. There are websites out there that help show how to get your work published (and there’s also the possibility of self-publication). Of course, corporations and mainstream media can still twist your work in a way that would turn people away. And I do believe that blogs can undermine censorship because we’re allowed to “publish” just about anything we write. Certainly, there is always the chance that it will be moderated by the website owners if enough feedback/complaints are brought to their attention. However, once something has been read, it is hard to “un-read” it. So even if something is only posted for a day or two, whomever has read it has been impacted by it in some way.

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