She reached out, grabbed a book from the back and handed it to me. “Try this one,” she said. “It’s good.”
I stared at the book in my hands. The front cover was missing. The book was warped, as if it had been drop in water and left to dry. The pages were yellow and some helpful kids had written on the margins. I turned it over to read the blurb. Something about firemen starting fires to destroy books. I shrugged my shoulders and went to my seat, glad I had obtained her approval to do something other than watch the TV monitor.
And so began my journey of discovering the great tales from the intriguing mind of Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451, the book I was given that morning, would change my life. Up until then, I had read mostly junk food for the mind kind of books. There were no deep messages or philosophical statements about life or the human condition in what I read. It was simply fun reading, an escape.
The story of Guy Montag coming to question society and his role in it left me wanting more of the same. I didn’t know, in my naïve teenage mind, that old books could be so thought provoking. I moved on to The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked this Way Comes and Dandelion Wine, always amazed with the worlds he created.
Not only did I find a love for science fiction, I found an appreciation for older texts. 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells were but a few of the worlds I escaped to that year.
Ray Bradbury passed away this week at the ripe old age of 91. Yet he will live forever in my heart, with his stories of the human condition and this crazy little thing called life.