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Pleasure to Read: The Best Editions of Fahrenheit 451

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Jesse Doogan

Staff Writer

Jesse Doogan writes about food, faith, books, and DIY projects, and sometimes even puts these things on her blog. She works in publishing and lives near Chicago with her cat. She tweets about all these things at @jadoogan.   Blog Twitter: @jadoogan

I try to be careful with when I allow myself to actually buy books. I know that if I’m not conservative, I’ll buy every pretty copy of every classic I come across. I already have some doubles thanks to the Harper Collins Olive Editions and those Puffin in Bloom editions. But, when my book club decided to read Fahrenheit 451, I realized I had a unique opportunity to re-buy a book I already owned. I mean, at least an opportunity to justify my re-buying a book I already owned! I am not sure where my copy from high school is, and if I do find it, it might be full of my high-school-required booknoting.

It’s the perfect reason to go shopping for some of the coolest (heh) editions of Fahrenheit 451. Let’s go.

This first one isn’t for sale, unfortunately. It was a project by artist Elizabeth Perez, who screen-printed the spine of the book so that the match she embedded in the cover would be able to strike on it. It’s an edition of F451 that is made to burn.

Pleasure to Read: The Best Editions of Fahrenheit 451

This edition is from a special limited run of 200 of actually fireproof copies of Fahrenheit 451. It is wrapped in asbestos and signed by the author. It is extremely bad for you but also pretty cool! i09 reports that you can buy a copy for $20,000. I’m just going to come out and say that you should not pay $20,000 for something that will give you lung cancer. Buy one of these other guys instead. Buy 2,000 copies of one of these other guys.

Now, lets get down to basics. This is the current edition that you can get from any old store. It’s the 60th anniversary edition, and it’s a great, simple, modern design. I love the book/matchbook juxtaposition.

Did you know there was a graphic novel of F451? It’s illustrated by Tim Hamilton and has a forward by Ray Bradbury himself. It goes by the very long name Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation.

Juniper Books includes F451 in their I Heart Books Books on Books Collection. The collection also includes The Name of the Rose and Possession

One of my favorite current editions of Fahrenheit 451, I think, is this Flamingo Edition, which is only available in the UK. There are surprisingly few actual literal flames on any of these covers, and I like that this edition just goes for it.

On the other end of the spectrum is the current Spanish edition. Not only are there no flames, but the cover is green (the opposite of red, according to my color wheel). Bold choice. I like it.

But if we’re going to talk about literal flames on the cover, we should probably talk about the dust jacket of the first edition. It really is quite wonderful, with a man made of books, burning, as the book-man tries to shield his eyes from the flames. Or is he weeping? It’s a stunning cover. I also think it’s quite charming that they list Ray Bradbury as “author of THE GOLDEN APPLES IN THE SUN.” It’s funny how perspectives change. Now, any edition of Golden Apples in the Sun would be packaged as “by the author of Fahrenheit 451. But I am digressing majorly.

If you love the first edition cover, but don’t care for the hefty price tag, you can probably easily find one of the 50th anniversary editions. The publisher re-released an updated version of the classic cover, with Golden Apples removed and some artificial shelf-wear added.

So, what is the copy I’m going to buy to bring to book club? Well, I’m debating between the 50th anniversary edition, or this one, the Harper Voyager edition. So far as I can tell, it’s a cloth hardcover, and just look at how literal that illustration is! I love that purple background.

What are your favorite editions of Fahrenheit 451?