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RAY BRADBURY: How I Fell in Love with Books

RAY BRADBURY: How I Fell in Love with Books
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Ray Bradbury and his books / scriptphd.com

 

In a world where bright, glowing screens captivate more than pages and instant messages overshadow deep reflections, Ray Bradbury’s words on reading books resonate as a voice from another dimension — one where literature was a guiding star, and libraries were temples of knowledge.

Today, as we stand on the brink of the artificial intelligence era, it was science fiction writers who first introduced us to worlds where technology clashes with the human soul. Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, and Philip K. Dick — these names are like magical incantations opening doors to the future.

Bradbury reminds us that books are a living substance that nourishes our souls, expands our imagination, and shapes our understanding of the world. He believes that books can save the world, and his words become a call to thoughtful people.

 

«You might be curious to know how I fell in love with books.

I learned to read when I was three years old. I loved comic strips and Sunday cartoons. When I was five, I received a book of fairy tales as a gift and immediately fell in love with reading. At six, I watched a movie about dinosaurs, and they filled my life. The things you learn at three, six, ten, and twelve years old eventually find their way into your work. When you’re in your thirties, what you do should be what you love, and what you love should be what you do.

When I was seven years old, I went to the library for the first time, hoping to find books about the Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was an incredible adventure! I opened the door and looked inside, where a multitude of people awaited me. You see, libraries are filled with people. Thousands of people who wrote books are waiting for you.

John Steinbeck influenced me the most. I read «The Grapes of Wrath» at 19. You eventually find an author who guides you through the darkness. Shakespeare did that for me with «Hamlet» and «Richard III». Later, Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe led the way, with Poe saying, «The light is where the books are». I realized early on that when you enter a library, you discover yourself.

One late night, when I was 12 years old, I gazed at Mars in the night sky and wished to be taken home. And Mars did bring me home. Since then, I have written every day for 75 years without stopping.

We must learn a great deal from the history of book destruction. When I was 15, Hitler ordered the burning of numerous books on the streets of Berlin. This event made me realize how dangerous it was. Without the ability to read, you can’t be part of any civilization or democracy. Reading books is the only way to gain a complete understanding of life.

I published the first version of my novel «Fahrenheit 451» in February 1951 after moving to Los Angeles with my family. At the time, I needed an office and had two wonderful but boisterous daughters. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money for an office. One day, while wandering around the UCLA campus, I heard some strange sounds coming from the basement.

 

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I went down to the basement and found a room with 12 typewriters. «This is my office!» I exclaimed. I could rent a typewriter for 20 cents an hour. With a bag of dimes, I moved into the basement room of the library. Spending $9.80, I wrote «Fahrenheit 451». This was my sanctuary—a library where books weren’t burned.

I soon signed a contract with Ballantine, returned to my library sanctuary, and added another 25,000 words.

How did I manage it? The characters came to me on their own.

One fine day, Montag  appeared before me and asked, «Do you know who I am?» I replied, «No. Tell me». He then shared his past life and explained why he burned books.

Clarisse McClellan was a 16-year-old girl who adored reading. She embodied life and love. I don’t write books; my characters do. They come to me and say, «Listen to me». I listen and write down what they tell me. That’s how a book is born. My characters love life and share their stories with me. At the heart of my narratives is always the value of humanity’s most precious gift — the gift of life.

What makes my books popular?

People sense my love through them. They touch my books, and the books come to life. This is my gift to them. Books are intelligent and wise. Love what you do, and do what you love. Don’t heed those who discourage you. Imagination should be the center of your life. I plan to create a T-shirt that says, «Climb to the top of the cliff, jump off, and spread your wings on the way down». We are all children of time. I thank the Universe for life on Earth and the opportunity to live here.

 

The material is based on the short film produced by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

 


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A Conversation with Ray Bradbury
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