Share 17 Amazing Books Featured in the “Fahrenheit 451” Movie

17 Amazing Books Featured in the “Fahrenheit 451” Movie

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors, so I approached watching HBO’s new adaption of FAHRENHEIT 451 with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The novel follows Guy Montag, a “firefighter” in a dystopian society where books have been outlawed and the job of the firefighters is to round up hidden books and burn them. Montag’s world and the beliefs that have always guided him are shaken to their core when he meets his new free-thinking neighbor Clarisse and impulsively decides to save a book from the flames and hide it in his own home.

I was lucky enough to attend the first screening of the film, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, followed by a Q&A with writer and director Ramin Bahrani. He said that he selected the books to be featured and burned on-screen carefully, wanting to highlight books that have meant something to him and that he thinks are important. The books selected are a rich and diverse mixture of literature old and new, from classics like FRANKENSTEIN and LOLITA to beloved favorites like HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE.  Here are some of the other books featured in this powerful and thought provoking film adaptation.


One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE is a beloved and acclaimed novel that tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

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Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
This classic novel follows Janie Crawford as she sets out to be her own person—no mean feat for a black woman in the 1930s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.

Read the full review of THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston

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Wise Blood
by Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel is a tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, blindings, and wisdoms. It centers on Hazel Motes, a 22-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith.
Wise Blood
Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s haunting debut explores faith, redemption, family, and even God. When Hazel Motes returns from 4 years in the army, he’s determined to escape fate and his complicated feelings about religion. Of course, nothing goes as expected. Darkly comic and biting, this novel will stick with you long after you finish it.

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The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Considered by some to be “the Great American novel,” this story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his powerful love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan is an exquisitely crafted tale that has been essential reading since it was published.
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some consider it “the great American novel.” The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his powerful love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan is an exquisitely crafted tale that has been essential reading since it was published.

Read the full review here.

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The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California.
The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

Tulsa, OK: You may want to spend more time in Oklahoma than the Joads, who were driven from their homestead during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s. Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of the American classics.

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Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories
by Franz Kafka
THE COMPLETE STORIES brings together all of Franz Kafka’s stories, from the classic tales such as “The Metamorphosis,” “In the Penal Colony,” and “A Hunger Artist” to shorter pieces and fragments that Max Brod, Kafka’s literary executor, released after Kafka’s death.
Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories
Franz Kafka

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Native Son
by Richard Wright
Richard Wright’s powerful novel about Bigger Thomas, a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a white woman in a brief moment of panic.
Native Son
Richard Wright

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

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Notes From Underground
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Fyofor Dostoyevsky’s revolutionary novel follows a former official who has defiantly withdrawn into an underground existence. In full retreat from society, he scrawls a passionate, obsessive, self-contradictory narrative that serves as a devastating attack on social utopianism and an assertion of man’s essentially irrational nature.
Notes From Underground
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Citizen
by Claudia Rankine
In essays, images, and poetry, CITIZEN is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in contemporary society.
Citizen
Claudia Rankine

Told through essay, image, and poetry, Claudia Rankine’s provocative book is a powerful testament to the effects of mounting racial aggressions on the individual and collective in the twenty-first century.

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Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie
Iconic detective Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of millionaire Samuel Ratchett inside of his locked compartment on a moving train where every passenger is a suspect.
Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie

The most famous Hercule Poirot mystery, which has the brilliant detective hunting for a killer aboard one of the world’s most luxurious passenger trains.

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Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut’s classic antiwar novel, which centers on the firebombing of Dredsen and Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time.
Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut

The absurdist tale of Billy Pilgrim -- an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden -- and his odyssey through time has become a classic of anti-war fiction and reading lists everywhere.

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Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, futilely resists the devaluing of his traditions by British political and religious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.
Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe’s legendary novel encompasses the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. It is an illuminating monument to modern Africa as seen from within.

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Song of Solomon
by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison audaciously transfigures the coming-of-age story as she follows Milkman Dead from his rust-belt city to the place of his family’s origins. SONG OF SOLOMON introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
Song of Solomon
Toni Morrison

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Half of a Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s is brought to life through the voices of five unforgettable characters. Among them is Ugwu, a houseboy who comes to his master a naive child and ends the novel a wary ex-soldier. As war drags on and the differences between Ugwu and the once-privileged family he serves shrink, their shared, raw humanity is all that remains.
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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White Teeth
by Zadie Smith
At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, WHITE TEETH revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.
White Teeth
Zadie Smith

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Play It As It Lays
by Joan Didion
Set in a place beyond good and evil—literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul—this is a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis, and stunning in the intensity of its prose.

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Play It As It Lays
Joan Didion

Los Angeles, CA: Set in a place beyond good and evil—literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul—this is a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis, and stunning in the intensity of its prose.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s timeless classic tells the story of Dorian Gray, the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist who is impressed and infatuated with Dorian’s beauty. As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his portrait ages and fades and grows into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

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