Do you have a burning desire to read a good book and share the experience with others? If so, you may want to participate in the eighth annual Timberland Reads Together program, when the library system encourages readers to take on the Ray Bradbury dystopian classic “Fahrenheit 451.”
Each October, Timberland Regional Library takes one book and makes every effort to turn it into a social and multisensory experience, using book conversations, live theater and film, and the tangible materials of displays and exhibits — even pizza.
This year, readers can take on the signature work by prolific 20th-century American author Ray Bradbury, who died in June at age 92.
Bradbury wrote numerous science fiction and horror classics, including “The Martian Chronicles” and “The Illustrated Man.” He was also famous for his work in Hollywood, where many of his works were turned into TV episodes and movies — such as the 1950s sci-fi classics “It Came from Outer Space” and “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.” Many of his short stories were adapted for shows such as “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and his own “Ray Bradbury Theater.”
But he’s best known for “Fahrenheit 451,” his vision of a totalitarian society where books are burned — the books ignite at 451 degrees Fahrenheit — minds numbed, and original thinking suppressed.
“What we want people to get out of it is a renewed involvement and enjoyment out of reading by making it a social event as well as an intellectual and solitary pursuit,” said Leanne Ingle, Timberland’s communications specialist. “We want to make it very enriched — show there are different ways to access these ideas.”
To that end, libraries throughout the Harbor will be hosting special events and presentations — all revolving around the book, its themes and its author. They will include numerous book discussions (the ones for teens include pizza) dramatic readings by Book-It Repertory Theatre of Seattle, film screenings of Bradbury’s and other science fiction works. All the events are free. Some libraries are also offering contests, interactive displays or art exhibits.
All Timberland branches have copies of the novel to lend in various formats—regular print, large print, Spanish (print), and audiobook CDs.
But as Aberdeen Timberland Library director of adult services Laura Young notes, “It’s a hot property right now.” Apologizing for the “bad pun,” Young said all of Aberdeen’s allotment of 20 books is currently checked out, though they may be placed on reserve.
“Hopefully, people will bring them back as soon as possible so we can share,” Young added.
Downloadable audiobook and e-book copies are at the library website, www.TRL.org. The library system also offers the 2009 graphic novel edition (adapted by Tim Hamilton with the introduction by Bradbury) and DVDs of the 1966 film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451,” directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner, Julie Christie and Cyril Cusack.
“Bradbury was a huge supporter of libraries,” said Tim Mallory, the Timberland system’s adult services coordinator and ‘Fahrenheit 451’ has been on our list for a long time.”
Bradbury’s death in June was not the catalyst for this year’s program, Mallory said. “We usually choose the book about a year ahead of time,” he said. “When we chose this book, we knew Ray Bradbury wasn’t traveling, but I figured maybe we could get him to make an appearance via Skype — so much for having a live author.”
Mallory noted that Bradbury’s premise originally started as a short story in 1947. That was later expanded into a novella — “The Fireman” — and published in the February 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. First published in 1953 “Fahrenheit 451” is twice as long as “The Fireman.”
”He continued to rewrite it,” Mallory notes. “The version for that film is a somewhat different version. The story is different in the 2009 graphic-novel version, too.”
A printed brochure regarding this year’s Timberland Reads Together program is available at Timberland libraries. In addition to a listing of all programs, the 20-page booklet includes a summary of the book, a biography of Ray Bradbury, questions for thought and discussion, and other information to enrich the reading of Bradbury’s masterwork. The information is also available now on the Timberland Reads Together webpage at www.trl.org.