Rediscover: Fahrenheit 451
"It was a pleasure to burn," begins Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's inextinguishable work of dystopian fiction and a book that is still a pleasure to read. First published in 1953, this sci-fi classic stands among 1984 and Brave New World as foundational works not just of the genre, but of all 20th-century literature, among a pantheon of sociopolitically prophetic tales that have remained applicable across generations. In Bradbury's case, his story of a world where firemen burn books, all of which are banned, beckons questions of censorship, the power of reading and the impact of mass media on a democratic populace. If anything, these issues have grown only more contentious over the years.
As well as (ironically) being censored over the decades, Fahrenheit 451 has been adapted into multiple mediums: a 1966 film directed by François Truffaut, a '70s stage play by Bradbury, a 1982 BBC radio dramatization, a 2009 graphic novel illustrated by Tim Hamilton, and an upcoming HBO movie directed by Ramin Bahrani, starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. In 2012, Simon & Schuster published a 60th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 with an introduction by Neil Gaiman ($15.99, 9781451673319), which makes for safer reading than the 200 collector's editions released in 1953 that were bound in asbestos. --Tobias Mutter