“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
We all have our favorite books and favorite authors. Books that touch us in some way and writers whose style or ideas consistently make us feel “at home.” Some books make us laugh or cry; others make us think and wonder about distant lands, alternate realties, or ancient times lost and at the mercy of history or mythology.
While I have only read a couple of works by Ray Bradbury and cannot in all honesty call him a “favorite” of mine, I can say without reservation that Fahrenheit 451 literally changed my life. It (along with Lois Lowry’s The Giver) changed the way I thought about my place in society and in the world.
This book forced me to suffer through the pangs of introspection for the first time (a haunting experience for a young teenage boy!). “Who am I?” and “What can I do?” became just as important to me, if not more so, than that ever-important juvenile query: “What do I want?”
And, to this day, there is a question I ask myself on a regular basis, one which was formed by the experience of reading this book: “What do I believe and to what lengths will I go to support it?”
I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t read some amazing books along the way. Fahrenheit 451 is one of those.
Today, I want to take a moment to say thank you, Mr. Bradbury, as I want to thank so many of my favorite writers who have come and gone before you. May you and the extraordinary company you keep rest in peace.
I will forever fight the firemen, Ray, whoever and wherever they might be.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)
William S. Burroughs (1914 – 1997)
Willa Cather (1873 – 1947)
Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
William Faulkner (1897 – 1962)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940)
Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928)
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)
Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)
Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964)
J.D. Salinger (1919 – 2010)
Maurice Sendak (1928 – 2012)
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968)
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007)
Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937)
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
Are there any writers who you believe deserve a “Fond Farewell”? Please share some thoughts on your favorite writers and what they left for you (and for all of us).