When I was younger, the worst day of the summer was invariably the day that the required reading list came in the mail. I had just finished school, so why were my teachers giving me more work?! It was so demanding too — not one, not two, but five books. In my opinion, that was a lot to ask of an 11-year-old. It also did not help that I hated reading. I would always choose to read the smaller books with the big fonts during those tough middle school summers.
With high school came an entirely different literary experience. I was very lucky. My English teachers were terrific. They exposed me to classic works that took me by the hand, and I was entirely engaged. I went on a literary journey that started in Verona, Italy, and made stops in West Egg, Umuofia and Maycomb County. I loved reading and, for the first time ever, I craved more.
Reading assignments for class became insufficient. I started to read on my own outside of the classroom. I asked my mom to drive me to Barnes & Noble with one objective in mind: to purchase Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Earlier that week, we had read his short story, “A Sound of Thunder,” and I loved it. His writing style captivated me and I wanted to read a longer work. Seeing that Fahrenheit 451 is his most popular work, it seemed fitting. I loved reading it. Bradbury became part of the literary experience that helped foster my love of reading and made me who I am today.
I am not alone. My personal story is one of millions from people who have felt Bradbury’s influence in their own lives. His creative genius touched so many realms of the artistic world. He was an author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, lecturer, poet and visionary. He had an incredible impact on the literary world. Bradbury’s New York Times obituary called him “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.” His impact goes far beyond teachers, students and writers. Science fiction fans, and any who have read or seen a science fiction work, can feel it.
Ray Bradbury is also a great example of self-improvement. Even after he ended his formal education, he tried to enhance his knowledge in other ways. For 10 years, he went to his public library and read books from it every day. I cannot imagine the number of books that he was able to read and the amount of material he absorbed. Bradbury also wrote each day, to hone his writing skills. He certainly has the bibliography to show for it: 27 novels and more than 6,000 short stories. His amazing career earned him countless awards and honors. When Ray Bradbury died, it was a sad day for all of those who have an appreciation for the written word. His death reminded me of my own love for literature. Now that I’m older and have more responsibilities, I wish I had time to sit and read five books.