This month marks what would be Ray Bradbury’s 100th birthday.
Born in Illinois on August 22nd, 1920, the late author settled in Los Angeles in his middle school years and made it his permanent home. It was there that he was able to chase the company of storytellers of all mediums and work tirelessly to make his way in the industry. Eventually, he became an award winning author and powerful influence, creating a legacy that remains even after his 2013 passing.
Although he isn’t a popular name in gossip magazines or on television, you probably recognize his name from your high school and college “required reading” lists. You might not be able to name any of his works past what was on your syllabus, but he boasts a large catalog of speculative fiction books and collections that hold something for everyone. Are you a fan of horror and spooky stories that send shivers down your spine? Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Veldt, or The Halloween Tree might strike your fancy. If science fiction is more your thing, The Martian, “The Fog Horn,” or I Sing the Body Electric! are worth a read. Or perhaps you find magical realism most attention grabbing. In that case, read Dandelion Wine, a touching collection of short stories following a young boy named Douglas and his youthful adventures in the summer of 1928.
My personal favorite is his most popular science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451. Although I first read it years ago, the story and its message are burned into my mind. Following a young man in a dystopian society, the book centers itself around firefighters’ purpose to destroy literature. Guy Montag, the main character and fireman, grapples with his role in the destruction of ideas and suppression of shared knowledge. The passion his society has for obliterating books is haunting, heartbreaking, and enraging all at once, making you clutch all the more tightly to the one in your hands. Its lesson of preserving precious books as a source of creativity rings true in this digital age and left me wondering which of my favorite books I would work to save from such a terrible fate.
Inspired by the events in Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury once warned: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. You just have to get people to stop reading them.” Let yourself find inspiration in the words of this beloved author and take it as a sign that it’s high time you lose yourself in a book!