Banned Books Week: Fahrenheit 451

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I have a feeling that Fahrenheit 451 gets brought up in every conversation about banned books--it is, after all, set in a society that bans books.

But I think what's so significant about this book is that it's not so much the government that bars people from owning and reading books--it's the society itself. It's not about tyrannical censorship; it's about self-censorship by way of apathy, hedonism, and a lack of education.

The main character's wife, Mildred, embodies this shallow worldview, to the extent that even when her husband tries to enlighten her, she blows him off and reports him to the authorities.

I read this book my freshman year of high school, and was surprised to find that it has been banned and removed from high school curriculum mostly for language--which is actually quite mild. Do parents honestly believe that their children's reading of the words "hell" and "damn" will corrupt them? If it wasn't so unfortunately true, I'd laugh.

This is an important book, especially for young adults, to read. It teaches how important it is to think for yourself, and that education and learning the value of human history can make all the difference in a society that often mistakes pleasure for joy.