Books That Inspire 2009

Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury stands as one of the great American stories of censorship and repression of ideas. A story warning about censorship and book burning is perhaps not a surprising choice for a librarian, but for me, it warns not only of the dangers of repression of free thought and the need to preserve our written heritage but also the dangers of a future where critical thought and ideas are so foreign that anyone who exhibits them are sent to a mental institution. It warns of a future without books and the free flow of information, of ever present media in every wall in the house and portable entertainment devices - escapism through entertainment, and dependence on medication - happiness through pharmaceuticals. Written in 1953, this story already shows a great deal of foreshadowing as we increasingly tune the world and each other out with iPods, Internet and television. The former fireman (whose task was to burn books and not fight fires) finds true value in life again only after rediscovering the small pleasures – sitting on a porch, talking with friends and sharing ideas in books. This book is increasingly relevant as we are faced with similar circumstances, and we must find way to preserve critical thought and our literary heritage.

Jaymie C. Turner
Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian
University Libraries