In 1953, an aspiring author wrote a story about a society where television and the media dominated people’s lives. Instead of reading or interacting with others, people are glued to big screens in their living rooms — sometimes watching the information that comes forth from the television and sometimes involved in games on the big screen. The big screen literally tells people what to think, how to think, how to feel.
Books have become the enemy. Instead of sitting down with a good book to learn and relax, people see them as evil. Books make you think. Books make you question the status quo. In the author’s 24th century world, books are bad.
    {mosimage} The author, Ray Bradbury, wrote about a fantasy world, but if you look around, some of the things he predicted have come close to true. The media does dominate our lives. Instead of spending time around the table talking, families spend time in front of the big screen watching mindless television. And, society has seen a downturn in the number of people who curl up with a good book … Was Bradbury right about our future?
    That’s one of the questions you might have asked yourself after reading Fahrenheit 451 as a participant in The Big Read. The Big Read, sponsored by the Cumberland County Public Library System, is a National Endowment of the Arts program designed to get citizens reading and involved in a book.
Over the past few months, Cumberland County citizens have actively participated in The Big Read. They’ve held discussion groups, book groups, participated in a read-a-thon, created posters and written essays. On Friday, April 25, the event will culminate with An Evening of Music and The Big Read at 7 p.m., at the Headquarters Library on Maiden Lane in downtown Fayetteville.
    The free event will feature popular musicians The Parsons, a Fayetteville favorite, known for its “uptown hillbilly swing.” The band’s music has been called a “combination of ragtime, old-time blues, bluegrass, swing and folk music.” That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
    In addition to the music, take the time to listen to dramatic readings from Fahrenheit 451, and join the library in congratulating the essay winners.
    Jody Risacher, the library director, was recently on hand at the Fayetteville City Council to publicly invite the community to participate in the event. Risacher called The Big Read a “symbolic exercise of democracy,” noting that participation in the many events help “build the community and was a vehicle for discussing community values.”
    She noted that Fayetteville, being home to one of the nation’s biggest military bases, could be called a “pillar of democracy.”
“Having a library is a stabilizing force in the community,” she said, adding that it is a “sign of a thriving, vital community.”
    “Please get fired up and spread the word,” she concluded.

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