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Toronto Public Library picks Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for 2013 One Book event

Jim Sales and Jane Pyper

The Toronto Public Library is hoping to get readers fired up this spring with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine Books), which has been chosen for the 2013 One Book community reading event.

“We decided to go with a classic this year,” says Jane Pyper, the city’s head librarian. “Even though Bradbury wrote it years ago … the themes of this novel remain relevant to the media- and tech-saturated world we live in.”

The selection is a deviation from the TPL’s usual focus on a Canadian novel set in Toronto. Published in 1953, the American science fiction and fantasy writer’s dystopian novel takes place in a world where firemen are charged with facilitating institutionalized book burning, all as a result of humanity’s fascination with television.

Pyper made the announcement this morning alongside Toronto fire chief Jim Sales at a fitting location: the Yorkville fire hall.

The partnership between the TPL and Toronto fire services grew from a “natural connection” based on the book’s subject, says Pyper. “We asked if they would [join] us and they were on board immediately.”

Sales adds that, as part of the event, the Toronto fire services will amp up its public education on fire prevention, with outreach officers visiting library branches to share their stories.

The One Book event, an initiative that seeks to get Torontonians discussing a single book, is part of the TPL’s annual Keep Toronto Reading Festival, which takes place every April.

Pyper says discussions on book burning in the digital age and readings by 1,000 students in 35 Toronto high schools are some of this year’s program highlights. The full One Book event listing will be released March 14.

As part of the event, the TPL is asking Torontonians to let them know, via YouTube, which book they would save if their library was burning. Submissions will be entered into a draw to win a reproduction of an image from the library’s special collections.