I’ve just re-read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”. I’ve probably read it ten or more times over the years. Probably seen the movie five times or so. Who wouldn’t as a teenager be obsessed with Julie Christie and Oskar Werner?
My reading choices growing up were essentially popular fiction, so Ray Bradbury fit right in. I browsed the science fiction shelves of our public library, and pulled out books that I later learned, when I wanted to care about authors, were written by Fritz Lieber and Robert Silverberg.
So I want to ask the question of my one reader, and beg for an answer.
What books really, truly, influenced you the most? And be honest; if it was Judith Krantz’s “Scruples” or William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist” (I read both), I want to know!
And if you, my one reader, have a teenager in the house, ask them what they love to read? Graphic novels? Poetry? Young adult fantasy? Or anything they can get their hands on?
And, dear reader, what was the first book you remember reading all the way through? Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, or J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series? Or Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”?
And a book can influence us in different ways. Inspire us to write our own—Mary Stewart’s “The Moon-Spinners”. (It’s painful to confess that one.) Goad us into social and political activism—Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale”. Stir up feelings we’d never felt before—Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
Inspire us to study art–”The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam” illustrated by Edmund Dulac.
Ray Bradbury wrote about a world of banned books, where possession of books was likened to possessing Schedule I Controlled Substances. People stuffed “sea shells” into their ears and lived in virtual worlds, oblivious to everything around them except what was not real, forgot what compassion and hope and inspiration meant. Sounds eerily familiar, IMO.
I don’t see that happening here, any time soon. Story-telling—painting, music, tele-series—are part of our genetics by now. And those who want those stories are out there, eagerly waiting.