Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've never read a book and felt like highlighting lines or passages. That changed today.

Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won't be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely.

This, and the rest of the words from Beatty that surround it, hit me like a ton of bricks. How many times have I celebrated my own genius when I could find a clever solution to a coding problem? An elegant way to solve requirements from a customer? Yet never considered the full meaning of what I was doing? I think back on some of the projects I did after graduating college and how happy I was to be doing my job and doing it well, but never considering what it mean to be doing my job. I'm glad that I've learned to be more thoughtful since then, and here is a reminder to never become complacent.

That is just one facet, one viewpoint on this incredibly rich, yet brief portion of 451! I am in awe of Bradbury and his ability to find a collection of just a few words in a particular order that are able to convey multiple dimensions of ideas and emotions. When I flipped through the table of contents and saw that the story itself was contained in just 158 scant pages, I wondered to myself how this could be heralded as such an important work. It is! It is in no small part due to Bradbury's economy of words.

Is 451 relevant today? Very much so. In fact, it is frightening to see how much of the "family" found in 451's parlor are visible today in our daytime talk show television.

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Jade Mason