Banned Books Week is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and I am excited to be participating again!
So I chose to read Fahrenheit 451. I read this many many years ago, and it was time to revisit this classic. What a perfect time to read a book not just about the banning of books, but the burning of them, and the banning of reading. It's ironic, but a sad irony, the kind you don't want to see. When life imitates art and not in a good way.
Fahrenheit 451 is about a fireman - in this world, firemen set fire to books, their job it is to burn them, and the houses of any people who dare to have books in their homes. Guy Montag meets a young woman outside her home one night, and her kindness and curiosity awaken the curiosity of Guy. She makes him think, wonder. We later learn that Guy has another secret, a stash of books he has taken on the sly from homes he has burned. He ends up on the run from the government as he refuses to turn away from this new side of himself, and ultimately murders his boss. Guy makes it out of the city after a harrowing chase through the streets, pursued by the Electric Hound, and finds himself in a group of revolutionaries, self-exiled from the cities walking the rails, who read.
It is a book about censorship, about whether the government should do the thinking for its people - for why should the people care or know anything about political candidates? - it's about people preserving knowledge for the future. I love the group that Montag is with in the very end, those fellow escapees committed to free thought and will, to the preservation of literature for future generations. Everyone has a book they are responsible for remembering, to hold onto until the time is right for the book to exist again. It always makes me wonder what book would I choose to be responsible for? What do I think is important enough, for whatever the reason, that I would try to keep it alive, waiting generations if necessary. I think that I may choose Watership Down, my favorite book.
Fahrenheit 451 has been challenged for reasons of language and for religious reasons. It blows my mind that someone could read this book and not understand that they were just doing exactly what the book was trying to show was so wrong! That you are censoring a book about censorship? Maybe that is what is so scary, and what they really are guarding against. Knowledge that you don't have to just accept what is told to you, that you can think about it, form your own opinions.
If you haven't read this, or haven't read it in a long time like me, I urge you to pick it up. It is a quick but powerful read, and what better time to read it?