“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.
Just get people to stop reading them.”
-- Ray Bradbury
In honor of the late Ray Bradbury, who passed away in June 2012, Midtown Book Group is reading Fahrenheit 451 for the November Book Selection and will be discussing Bradbury’s horrifying vision of book-burning dystopia on Wednesday, November 14th at 8:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble/Georgia Tech.
Fahrenheit 451 is a chilling prophecy of the world when people have turned away from reading, education and new ideas. The populace is pre-occupied with electronic media and reality TV; distracted from the government’s never-ending wars and lulled into complacency with the constant electric buzzing of “seashells” imbedded in their ears...sound familiar? Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, long before Apple, cable television, the Internet, “smart” phones and the rise of the “seashells” -- those ubiquitous ear buds.
In Fahrenheit 451, books were eventually banned and burned by the government, but: “It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick...” (Fire Chief Beatty explains to Guy Montag on page 58)
People simply lost interest. Too many distractions.
Are we heading toward Fahrenheit 451 as a modern society?
NEA Brings Back Books: The Big Read
“Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.”
In response to those alarming statistics, The Big Read was designed and launched in 2007 to inspire people across the country to pick up a good book and enjoy reading, discussion and literary events to celebrate the book within their community.
Midtown Book Group has participated in The Big Read several times in the past with the Margaret Mitchell House. [Author's note: Sadly, most literary programs formerly offered by the Literary Center at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown have been discontinued or moved to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.] Other than our small rebel force currently reading Fahrenheit 451, there is not much going on in Atlanta with The Big Read, although the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library has pending announcements for A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines: “We’re still planning. Check back again soon.” [I will let you know if/when I hear anything more.]
In addition to community reading and events around a particular book, NEA offers a wealth of resources online for each of the more than 30 titles selected for The Big Read. These online resources can be accessed anytime, by anyone, reading alone, with a group, or as part of The Big Read.
Resources available online for Fahrenheit 451 include:
- A comprehensive Reader’s Guide
- NEA Radio Program: Roundtable Discussion (one of my favorite resources)
- WONDERFUL Video - Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
As always, I encourage you to pick up a book (even if it is an e-book) and READ...so we don’t lose the privilege or the ability! In fact, it just occurred to me, The Big Read books -- 34 of them, to be exact, with the recent inclusion of 3 new titles --would be an excellent Reading Bucket List, with the resources available online...a worthy goal, perhaps, for 2013, if anyone out there is looking for a New Year’s Resolution!
Here they are: NEA The Big Read: BOOKS
How many have you read?
Next up: Midtown Book Group -- November 2012
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden..."
Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Time: 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Location: Barnes & Noble/Georgia Tech at 5th & Spring
For details & more information, visit Midtown Book Group on Yahoo Groups.
Midtown Book Group welcomes new members and visitors.