In the same vein, I don’t often revisit books. Like a summer fling, we have our fun, and then it's off to the next one. Occasionally, I’ll make a midnight call to Rowling or Tolkien, but, more often than not, the books sit on my read shelf mingling.
I have read Fahrenheit 451 ten times. I am in deep.
I first caught hold of the tiny tome in my college library. It was there stashed between two bigger books and hardly making any statement at all. Its cover was warped and faded, but the dust on the shelf told me it hadn’t been moved in a long time. And, why would it? It's one of the books that everyone has to read in high school. Parsed apart at the hands of their 10th grade English teachers. A book that many a high schooler, myself included, tossed casually into the mental pile of school garbage.
I never expected to pick it up again, but it was a slow, hot summer day, and I thought, why not? I pulled it gingerly from the shelf and turned it over in my hand. It was an older copy, but not the oldest. It showed wear in the best way: the spine was creased; the pages warped slightly; and the book smelled of cool dust. I checked it out, went home, and forgot about it until Saturday. I picked it up and sat down on my couch with a cup of iced coffee. Over the course of the whole pot of iced coffee, I read it. The whole thing. Cover to cover, I ate it up. I knew the story, I remembered the plot since high school, but there it was, still keeping me enraptured. I am not ashamed to say I am in a long-term and loving relationship with Fahrenheit 451.
In a story I love to tell, Bradbury reportedly stormed out of a lecture hall after engaging in a heated debate with a student about the meaning of his book. While many see the immaturity of both parties, I see the beauty between them; a book so well written and nuanced that people will stand up to the very author to defend their beliefs about it.
My favorite part about the book? The fact that many of its predictions are coming true. Ear buds, Twitter-like messages, dwindling attention spans, interactive media, dehumanization, and a general apathy towards reading were all things that Ray Bradbury typed up in 1950 in the UCLA Library’s basement at 10 cents a page.
So, Fahrenheit 451, I love you. You are all I hope to be as a writer. If I could write a book that pulled a fraction of the weight you pull, I’d be a happy man.