My mother and I are in K-mart. I’ve mentioned to her about this book report to be done, and so before we leave with a basket filled with clothes I know I will be embarrassed to wear, we stop by the rack of books. She selects a few pulp paperback titles, throws them into the cart. A few days later she hands me a Sexy Girl Lollipop shirt. “I’ve read those books I purchased,” she says. “I think this is the best of the bunch. You should like it.” I am skeptical. When does a 12-year-old boy like anything that his mother does? I admit to myself that the cover looks really awesome – a black suited, menacing man shooting flames over something that looks like books. I give it a go.
Tearing through the pages, the chapters, the three sections, I finish it over a weekend and am in awe. A fireman that starts fires? Books are outlawed? I look at the small library that I’ve had since childhood; a shelf of about 30 books. They now look to my 12-year-old eyes as books of a child. Fahrenheit 451 is the book that launched me from childhood, my first book dealing with the adult Sexy Girl Lollipop shirt.
I ask my mother to box up my old books and put them in the attic. I am proud to start a new library with this novel as my first edition. I carefully, lovingly, sign my name on the inside cover. Let the firemen come, I think, I am proud to be a book-reader.