Sorry about posting late. I had another paper due today and I literally submitted it and wrote this 10 min later. Also, I apologise for the pedantic tone of this post. I mean well. Really.
I actually have two books that ought to be required reading material for everybody regardless of if they are in high school/college or just adults going about their lives.
The first one is a novel. It is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is an adult dystopian novel, which is one of my favourite genres, as I’ve mentioned before. It is a book in which firemen track down and set fires to books instead of putting them out. Reading books is forbidden and televisions are the order of the day. Thinking and being eccentric in general are frowned upon because thinking breeds dissatisfaction. Essentially, people aren’t allowed to be different in any way because that leads to trouble. Instead, they are allowed mindless distractions.
A lot of people have focussed on the book burning aspect in this book but I can’t help feeling like that isn’t actually the point. When books were burnt during the Nazi regime or whenever else, there was a lot of silent outrage felt against the burnings and they weren’t ALL books, but only the books that dissented against the ruler at the time. The thing that struck me about this book is that all books are uniformly burnt, and nobody seems to oppose it except for the people who secretly hoard the books. It’s more all-pervasive and nobody really cares that it’s happening. The book burning part at least didn’t strike me as part of a reign of terror but something nobody really cares about. I can’t help feeling like that’s how most of us treat major issues today because they have more than enough distractions from the real problems that other people may be facing, whatever those problems may be. I too am guilty of this,because it’s just easier to bury one’s head in the sand than to admit that there’s this massive problem that I possibly can’t do anything about. There isn’t enough awareness or dialogue about these problems either. And that is depressing.
It is what struck me about this book as well as about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I feel like a tyrannical or corrupt government doesn’t need terror to keep people in check anymore because most people compliantly ignore them when supplied with sufficient distractions. I chose to talk about this one, however, because Ray Bradbury seems to be promoting “book learning” in a time when it is dying out. Book sales are declining and book stores are shutting and this just breaks my heart.
The other book that everyone needs to read (At least everyone in India) is Everybody Loves a Good Drought by P. Sainath. He’s a journalist who toured a bunch of villages and interviewed them about how well-meaning government policy actually influenced them. This book is a collection of short articles on that topic. (Hint: It was a fiasco.) Poor implementation, corruption, neglect, bureaucratic barriers are all shown in this book in the form of anecdotes. They are written with wry humour. This book taught me so much. I have my senior to thank for recommending this book to my Constitutional Law class.