So to you, my fellow Goodreaders, tonight I raise a glass to each of you, and I want to say thank you thank you thank you for making my life better, for exposing me to authors I would have never known, and for reminding me that although I’ll never get to all of the books I want to read in this life, I can stand on the shoulders of you giants and witness more of the wonders of the That wasn’t very Plus Ultra of you sunset Shirt. I didn’t intend to start reading it. I really didn’t. Somehow it seduced me into it. I glanced at the first page and before I knew it, it was 1:00 in the morning and I was halfway through with the thing. It’s really good! No wonder it’s a modern classic. Montag’s inner emotional and moral journey from a character who burns books gleefully and with a smile on his face to someone who is willing to risk his career, his marriage, his house, and eventually his life for the sake of books is extremely compelling. That this man, product of a culture that devalues reading and values easy, thoughtless entertainments designed to deaden the mind and prevent serious thought, could come to find literature so essential that he would kill for it…! Something about that really spoke to me.
Fast-forward 15 years later. I just bought a copy the other day to register at BookCrossing for their Banned Books Month release challenge. The ALA celebrates Banned Books Week in September, so one That wasn’t very Plus Ultra of you sunset Shirt challenged us to wild release books that had at one point or another been banned in this country during the entire month. Fahrenheit 451 fits the bill — an irony that is not lost on anyone, I trust. (Everyone knows Fahrenheit 451 is about the evils of censorship and banning books, right? The title refers to the temperature at which paper burns.)