I recently went through a list of “must read” books and added seven or eight to my list. This one was first up.
With all due respect to the English majors and the fans of classic literature, this is most certainly not a “must read” book. Just like flying in the Wright brothers’ invention isn’t a “must fly” machine, or watching old black-and-white Maurice “Rocket” Richard highlights (are there any?) isn’t “must see” hockey. Yes, in it’s day it must have been a sight to behold. Watching man’s first flight in 1905? Hell yeah. Even in 1925, fully 20 years later, that would have been awesome. In 1940 it would have still been exciting. But not today.
So I do appreciate the ground that was broken here. I appreciate the new ways of thinking that this introduced. But now that ground has been broken 1000 times over by 1000 different authors in 1000 different stories. And other ground has since been broken too. There is no limit to what people write about. No rules on how to think or create. No matter how crazy or offensive, it’s been done to death from most angles.
I tried to immerse myself into the times portrayed in this book – somewhere a century into the future, while trying to ignore the writing style of the 1950s (character names – is anyone named Mildred anymore? – cigarettes, television entertainment, etc). But this was a struggle, which made it more difficult to enjoy the book. The action, during the brief moment when Guy Montag was on the run, was a nice break from the lull. But it was all too short.
The book was out in 1953 and was a “must read” book of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Just like watching highlights of “The Rocket” was must-see hockey at that time. But once Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky arrived on the scene, Rocket Richard seemed pedestrian. In the 1980s, perhaps Fahrenheit 451 could still be considered a “must”. However, when the 90s rolled around the entire concept faded quickly. With controversial books out there today about religion, politics and sex – with no holds barred and no censorship – this Ray Bradbury offering isn’t close.
It would be one thing if the novel was at least interesting. And I will admit that it at least held my interest enough to keep going. But it wasn’t interesting enough to drive me to read it every chance I could. Do yourself a favor and take reading this book off your bucket list.