By Matthew Bitz
Just recently, as I was wandering thru the shelves at school, I noticed that the vast majority of the books there were extremely easy to read. Let me rephrase that, they didn't have a lot of substance to them, in fact; too many had no substance at all. The more I thought about this, the more that it bothered me. Then, in the grocery store, I stopped at the bookrack to check out the new bestsellers, but to my disappointment, they were much the same. Then it hit me, maybe the reason that great books and works of literature are not appearing as much as they used to is because we the people don't demand as much substance as we used to.
So I went and reread a classic, a classic that serves to remind us that good books are a precious thing. Fahrenheit 451. Now I am sure that many of you have read Fahrenheit 451, and are probably wondering why I am choosing to write to you about a book published a relatively long time ago. Why? Because it serves as such a great lesson of what life might be like without the works of Dickens, Melville, Dante, Homer, Shakespeare, Hugo, Bronte, the Bible, Machiavelli, and countless others whose words echo down to us through the musty passages of time. What if no one ever read books, how would we ever learn the lessons that the masters of the pen and the page have set down for us over the centuries? To who would we turn to for the great sagas and epics of the bygone days? Would we be no longer to rejoice in the heroics of King Arthur and to weep over the prostrate forms of Romeo and Juliet, lying dead in one another's' arms?
This is what Fahrenheit 451 poses, with a world in the not to distant future where the only firemen are the men who burn the forbidden books. The story of a people with no need for literature but an insatiable appetite for thrills and for the marvels of modern technology, concerned not with what treasures lie bound within the dusty pages but with communicating with one another over a vast global network. Sound familiar?
This is why I so highly recommend this book, not because it is something new but because it serves as such a poignant reminder of what the future might hold should we forget books and their lessons. Pick this one up and read it, it's not a million pages long, just long enough to make its point and make it well. Read it.