Patch Book Club: Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'

Discussed this week: The notion of how the traditional book will be used and seen in the future, and how Bradbury's novel relates.

These days, when some readers consider the form of the traditional book on its way to becoming obsolete, it's hard not to look to back to a certain novel in which the book is not only aging . . . it's illegal to read. 

That book, of course, is the late Ray Bradbury's acclaimed novel, "Fahrenheit 451"

Originally published in 1953, the novel, which indicates "the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns . . . ", reveals a world in which books are deemed to be a threat to the greater public, and as such, homes containing books are doused in kerosene and burned.

The burnings are caused by the hands of different forms of firefighters - those brave individuals we know as saviors of our homes and livelihoods and lives when fires spark. But in Bradbury's depiction of this world, these firefighters are the one who spark the blazes in an effort to ride the world of what paper reveals as truth and creative thought. 

"Could such a scenario actually happen now?" Bruce Dorminey wrote in a Forbes article on the subject back in June. "Should we start rounding up out-of-work actors to begin memorizing whole canons of literature just in case? Or have we already lost the print battle to today’s software?"

Things aren't quite as drastic as the idea of widespread book burnings, but the emergence of electronic readers like the Amazon KindleNook or even the iPad and other tablets has certainly raised the question of how the traditional paperback or hardcover will fare in the future. Some have done away with paper altogether and rely on the screen; others refuse to move away from the traditional book. 

Either way, it's arguable that books are not regarded by the general public in the same way they once were, which makes the case that Bradbury's classic novel could be even more relevant than it's been in years. 

And Bradbury, who passed away at the age of 91 in June, may have even made some accurate predictions about the current state of media as a whole across the globe, according to a report by Michael Rundle on The Huffington Post.

Do you think the traditional book is on its way out? What are your thoughts of Bradbury's novel in the age of e-readers and tablets? 

Patch Book Club is a weekly discussion that touches on a book recently read by a Patch editor or Patch reader. Have a book you'd like us to check out, or want to write up your own discussion? Send a note to mattp@patch.com.

Matt Perkins September 06, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Quick note to add on this - if you're looking for another great read by Ray Bradbury, check out "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Very entertaining! http://ow.ly/dwaJP
Bruce Dorminey September 14, 2012 at 06:43 AM
Thanks Matt for alerting your readers about my Forbes story on Bradbury in the digital age. Best, Bruce Dorminey


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