"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
In the near future, firemen don't put out fires - they start them. Books are outlawed and when anyone is found in possession of them, the firemen arrive to burn them and the home they were found in.
Guy Montag is a fireman who does his job happily and doesn't question what he is doing. But a chance encounter with his 17-year-old neighbour Clarisse changes that for him. As she makes observations about the world they live in, he puts up with her but when she asks him if he's happy, it plants a seed in his head. When Guy and the other firemen arrive at the house of an old woman who has a collection of books, he is stunned by her choice to start the fire herself and go up in flames with her books. But before all is destroyed, Guy hides one book to take home with him. This sets in motion a series of events that sees Montag running for his life when he refuses to continue to follow the status quo.
Fahrenheit 451 is the classic dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury. Published in 1953, the novel captured the concerns of the time regarding censorship and the suppression of dissenting ideas. Even today, it stands as a warning and eerie look at our future.
Book burning isn't something new. And it's strange to think that in 2013 it's something that still occurs. Occasions like Banned Books week show us that there is still an unhealthy fear of ideas that our different from our own. It's strange to read this book knowing it was written so long ago and yet captures today's society so well.
This book is short but potent. As a lifelong obsessive reader it pains me to see people who aren't into reading much. It seems like more and more reading is falling by the wayside as technology takes over our lives. And you see that in this book. As I was reading, all I could think was "we're not that far from this" (which is obviously the point of the book.) This should be required reading in high schools. This isn't a book that you simply read, you engage with it, you think about it, and you remain with it long after you turn the final page.
I loved the ending of the book, the hope that it gives for our society, that we can prevent this sort of future. And it tickles me to no end that people try and ban this book. All the more reason why everyone needs to read it.