September 10, 2006

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Classic Literature/Science Fiction
Finished on 9/3/06
Rating: C (3/10 Ho-hum)


I’ve had this book in my stacks for years. It was never assigned reading in any of my high school or college courses, but over the years I kept hearing great things about it from booklovers like myself and was looking forward to finally reading it as part of my personal Back-To-School Classic Challenge.


Not only is it difficult to write a review about a book I didn’t care for, but there’s an additional struggle to review a world-renowned piece of literature that has been taught, analyzed, discussed and reverently admired since its publication in 1953. I suspect anyone of any intellect knows the basis for the Bradbury’s dystopic work concerning censorship. Yes, I’m intimidated! Especially since I didn’t think it was half as good as I anticipated. What’s wrong with me?? How could I not like a book about books?! And especially a book about what happens to people's minds (and to freedom in general) when governments ban them!

Publisher Description:

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires…

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning… along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames… never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think… and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do!

While reading Fahrenheit 451, I was reminded how much I enjoy science fiction, specifically the extrapolation that's so much a part of that genre, and which Bradbury uses to demonstrate his incredible insight into the future. The wall-size, interactive TVs and in-ear "seashell" radios (so much like today's iPods and other media players) described in Guy Montag’s world are no longer electronics of the future, of course, but commonplace in today’s society. Very cool that someone in the early 50s could imagine a world with such advanced technologies. Certainly makes me wonder what our world will be like in 2050.

I’m glad I finally got around to reading this, if only because I now have a little more knowledge about the particulars of the book, giving me one more chance to answer an Arts & Literature question correctly and beat my husband at Trivial Pursuit!


  1. This is one of the reasons I like you, les: you're an independent thinker. I've never read this book, only seen the film, but I know it's been on "everyone's" list seemingly since the beginning of time. When we read something so famous we're almost bound to be somewhat let down. I read Wuthering Heights last year, and I was like, "Huh? What's the big deal? The love story ends in the middle of the dang book, and there's still 150 or so pages to go!" So, I suspect I may feel as you do about this Bradbury classic. The only one of his we had to read in High School was Dandelion Wine, which I remember fondly.

    Well, I like your back to school challenge, and I still want to pick up Catch-22; I wonder if we'll be disappointed with that as well?

  2. Bellezza - Oh thank goodness I'm not the only one who felt that way about Wuthering Heights :-)

    And Les - I've never read Fahrenehit 451, but now no longer feel compelled.

  3. Third voice to chime in on hating Wuthering Heights. How people can think of that book as romantic in any way is beyond me.

    Loved reading your thoughts on F451.

  4. I'm with you Les on F451. After reading that and another two "classics", I gave up and decided I didn't need to waste my time. I may read another here or there just so I can be up to speed on trivia, as you said, because there doesn't seem to be any other value in them. :)

  5. Well I haven't read either F451 or Wuthering Heights but I'm still curious enough that I'll probably try them someday.
    I was rather disappointed with Jane Eyre and people seem to adore that one! But I was glad to have read it to know the story. So we'll see. :P

  6. Tanabata ~ We're on the same page with Jane Eyre. I just thought it was "okay". I do like to know what everybody is talking about whether I agree or not. :)

  7. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Oh, Les, there is nothing "wrong with you". Remember Mark Twain's words, a classic is a book which people praise and don't read. :<)

    I actually find it easier to write about a book I don't like.

    I'd say, go watch the movie. I loved it. Though I think it is b&w, which I think I recall you not caring for??

    One of the very best things about being a grown-up is that no one can tell you what to read and what book you "should" like. It's all up to you, whether your faves be Fitzgerald or Helen Fielding or Danielle Steel or John Grisham or Gladys Taber. Thank goodness there are so many authors to choose from!


  8. Bellezza - Oooh, I like that. An independent thinker, eh? :)

    I read Wuthering Heights many years ago and just re-read my simplistic notes from my first reading journal. I didn't love it, but did get caught up in the story and couldn't put it down, so I guess I can't join the I Hated It group. The movie, on the other hand, was TERRIBLE! Funny you mention Dandelion Wine. I read it in junior high and LOVED it! So much so, I recently bought a copy for a re-read. Someday... Oh, and I've already started Catch-22. It currently has a bookmark in it on page 60. For some reason, I can't bring myself to call it quits. Yet.

    NLW - Love the Twain quote! Merci. And yes, it's wonderful that I don't have anyone telling me what to read anymore. Well, with the exception of my lovely husband who can't avoid mentioning Moby Dick any chance he gets. ;)

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments. I love hearing everyone's opinions on these classics.

  9. Oh dear, it doesn't sound like Catch-22 has an auspicious beginning! I plan on battling it through some day soon, after the R.I.P. Challenge. And of course, I want to join in whatever challenge you plan to present. Didn't I hear rumours of such?

    It's very "cool" to me that we have so much in common. :)

  10. Bellezza, I love that I've discovered some "kindred spirits" through my blog. I agree that it's cool that we have so much in common. I look forward to new posts on your blog, as well as your comments on mine. As far as Catch-22, it's moving to the bottom of my stack, so I might very well be ready for it once you're finished with your RIP challenge. I might roll it over from my Classic challenge to my Big-Book-Challenge that I might start after the New Year. Yes, you heard it here! I'm starting a very rough list for that possible challenge. Be on the look out for a future Thursday Thirteen list.


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