My last post, Read a Book You Idiot, got some great responses so thank you all for reading. As promised I came up with a five book list for my young friend. It was actually a little easier than I expected since I had a specific person in mind and a specific goal for the books. I jotted down eight off the top of my head and picked the five I thought best suited to the purpose. First the list and I’ll talk about each in turn. And keep the comments coming especially your own book lists. I’m always interested in what others feel are must-reads and why. Besides, Santa just got me a Kindle and it’s a good way to get new book suggestions.
- Fahrenheit 451
- Call of the Wild
- Watership Down
- Lord of the Flies
- No Country for Old Men
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I went back and forth between this one and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both are typically cast as Sci-Fi and both are dystopian futures. Both were cautionary tales that turned out to be eerily prophetic but I went with Bradbury for a few reasons.
It’s a tad more accessible for one. 1984 is a good book but it’s dense. 451 has a tight pace with a lot more of an ‘action movie’ flair complete with killer robot chase scenes. Montag is also more of an active protagonist than Winston Smith and easier to get behind and really root for.
The big reason though is that Fahrenheit 451 has an great element of discovery for a new reader. Most people who haven’t read the book have at least heard of it and think it’s about censorship in the early stages of the Cold War. That’s pretty much what I thought until I read it. By the time I did read it most of the things that Bradbury was making up were in full swing. Constant and mind numbing entertainment, overmedication, obsession with television shows and participating in them, personal communication that kept people ‘plugged in’ to the network while they ignored the person right next to them. It’s pretty recognizable as our society right now.
The big idea and discovery though is that it’s not really about censorship which is simply some government or authority trying to control what you read (and think). The Firemen are acting for the government of course but it’s the society’s and the individual’s willing complicity that’s the point. These people have chosen to be mindless consumers simply because it’s easier than thinking. A bit on the nose perhaps if you’re trying to get a young fella to read a book instead of texting his idiot friends. Still, it’s a good book and a quick read and a decidedly more hopeful ending than 1984.