Here in Toronto, the Toronto Public Library has launched its #KeepTorontoReading campaign which starts every April and encourages people to read one book in particular.
The book chosen this year is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 which was written in 1953, certainly a time when the world was advancing towards nuclear realities, but also a time when iPhones and Blackberrys were only fantasy.
Bradbury is one of my favourite writers who, as noted in one of my previous blogs, wrote books and stories that could be entertaining for both children and adults. Some of his more disturbing elements of fiction are contained in stories such as Fahrenheit 451.
There are many events throughout the city that recognize Bradbury’s masterpiece. Panels of speakers are discussing the famous novel and what bearing it has on the 21st century. Sadly, the fairly recent death of Bradbury adds to the sometimes poignant moments of the discussions.
A big part of the discussions reflect on the message in the novel versus our technological world of 2013. Bradbury, an obvious lover of books, thought up a society where books are considered dangerous. Owning books is thought of as a criminal activity and firemen’s jobs are to burn these books, not to put out fires.
The book is relevant today, not because people avoid reading but because they do it so often via technology (e.g., on Kobo readers). Soon, books made of paper may become obsolete. Perhaps, libraries too.
If people continue to read via technology, I am okay with that. However, as one audience member said about a Fahrenheit 451 discussion, “the book is more about apathy than about censorship” because, as one character says, people lost interest in reading long before books were burned.
The real fear, of course, is not advanced technology but the possibility that people no longer read.