Why The World Needs To Read Fahrenheit 451 Again

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” -Ray Bradbury

Lately, in my daily routine of finding things to do to make the hours tick by, I’ve turned a lot to the HBO movies on the TV. The other day, I watched Bridge to Terabithia, and was reminded why I hated this movie as a child. I wasn’t in the mood to cry, and I hadn’t given the TV permission to make me unhappy.

After the sob fest finished, in the quiet of an empty living room, I thought about the movie though, and I suddenly wanted to read the book. For as sad as it was, it still kind of bewildered me that such wonderful stories, could actually be banned. This is where I remembered how much I really wanted to read. For the longest time, I would tell myself that I would find the time to read all the books and plays that helped shape humanity, and I always found some excuse not to do it. Well now, I have time.


You know, when I was a sophomore in high school, we were assigned to read Fahrenheit 451. It was assigned but it’s one of the books that I didn’t take too seriously. I read the cliff notes, passed the test, and didn’t think about it again. I wonder if I had actually read it then, would I have felt as breathless as I do now?

I started listening to the audio book yesterday as I mowed the lawn, cleaned the house etc. I finished it today, sitting down and staring outside, seeing my backyard, but at the same time, seeing the fires, the bombs, and the ashes.

My favorite character was immediately Clarisse. I’m sure she’s beloved by everyone who’s read this book. She has that whimsical spirit that I wish I could possess. Curious, intelligent, and observant. She found wonder in everything she saw, experienced everything she possibly could, sometimes twice. She said something to Montag that cut me pretty deep – how the kids in her school went around killing other kids. How in just a short amount of time, so many had died in accidents or shootings.

I live in a pretty good community – more than just good I’d say. The schools are immaculate, the streets are clear, there’s plenty of history, and spirit, and the movie theater’s never play Rated R movies. I don’t live in a run-down city where police forces are stretched thin and many young children find themselves in a life of crime, and yet, in just the past year, there’s been so many accidents. So many young souls that went way before it was their time.

And have you noticed that shootings have gotten to be so common, that it’s only the major ones that cause a real raucous? When did every single one of them stop registering in our brains as something awful? I think my favorite quote in Bradbury’s novel had to be Montag screaming at his wife,

“How long is it since you were really bothered?”

Then there’s Beatty, explaining how the world in the book came to be. With so many minorities, it was important not to step on any toes. Not to offend anyone. The world wanted to be happy, they wanted mass production. Books turned into short stories, which turned into sentences, which became nothing. Short stories that could offend no one or give no radical ideas. Everyone wants so much to be happy, that stations don’t even cover real news anymore.

And I’m not immune to this. You know, when the Dallas shootings happened a few weeks ago, I did all I could to avoid it. This was a city I knew and loved so much, I didn’t want it to actually hit me. I didn’t want to think about the brave souls running, fighting, and protecting. I wanted to continue thinking Dallas, my sweet Dallas, was untouched. I went out of my way to avoid social media, the internet, the news. I wanted to be happy, not bothered.

These were just some of the few thoughts I had in these past two days that would cause me to pause the audio and just think.

Just think.

I hope my old AP English teacher is still teaching this book. I hope that those students are smarter than me and can actually recognize that what they’re reading is something that should cause them to think.

I feel a little like Montag right now. Just barely waking up, trying to create thoughts, and inflame the tiny spark inside of me. I don’t get why books are banned, or censored. I doubt that all the world’s problems can be blamed on it, but maybe if we talked about important things, and read important books, and saw important news, than maybe our kids would grow up smarter than us, better than us.

My regular life continues on. Still applying for jobs, trying to start my post-grad life, but now I deal out my own personal challenge.

Experience. Read. Watch. Listen.

I love books, movies, and music, but I want to do more than just experience it once and be done with it. I want it to really become a part of me, to continue learning even though I’m out of school. I don’t ever want to stop.


A Fellow Human

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