Exprexxo Thoughts

There are no S's in Exprexxo!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Syllabus Burning

My new visualization of the ranking of award winning scifi books has pointed out something odd is happening in the buying of books: Fahrenheit 451 is in the top 200 best selling books at Amazon. That is not to odd considering it is famous and it did win the Hugo in 1954. However the next best selling Scifi award winner is in the thousands place and most are in the tens of thousandths place. I have asked people, young and old, if they were thinking of buying Fahrenheit 451 and not one person has said " Yes, how did you guess? That book is the next on on my list!". I also have confirmed that it is not the Oprah Book Club read. My hypothesis is that people are not buying Fahrenheit 451, syllabuses are buying Fahrenheit 451. As school starts, teachers list out the books the students are to read and by default Fahrenheit 451 is on the syllabus again. The syllabus triggers schools to buy, and PTAs buy, and Parents buy, and all of that syllabus forced buying results in 181st place at Amazon in September. This is very odd to me since there are 88 other great Hugo and Nebula winning novels that tell equal, if not more relevant stories. If there was ever an indicator that education is stuck in time, this is it.

So I say: "Burn the Syllabuses of old!, Watch those bulk order lists go up in smoke!"

Make teachers rethink the novels to be read in light of that fact it is the 21st century. New great authors have written new hallmarks of society. Let Fahrenheit 451 become an occasionally included read for understanding the 20th century. Perhaps the only time it should be required reading is for people who declare in public they want to burn some book they dislike.

Ironically the programmatic buying of Fahrenheit 451 is making it one of the more common, least valued chunks of wood pulp in the world and therefore more likely to be burned....