UPON BEING INFORMED THAT I AM THE RECIPIENT OF THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION MEDAL FOR DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN LETTERS

by RAY BRADBURY

As a boy of ten years I could imagine nothing finer than running to the library on a windy October night, pushed by the cold wind and traveling with autumn leaves to arrive at the wonderful place, the library, where I would stand for a moment in the wide open door and call into the deeps: "Are you there?"

And all the silent voices of the ghosts of my most loved authors would answer from buried years, naming themselves Poe and Hawthorne and Dickens and Verne and Burroughs and Wells, and their whispering, promising answer was: "Yes."

And I would step in to join the shadows.

In my stage version of Fahrenheit 451 my Fire Chief comes home to a forbidden digitalized library and calls the same question to the untouched books. And their electric voices respond: "Yes."

I wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the basement typing room of the UCLA library in nine days of white-hot inspiration, dashing up and down stairs to prowl the stacks, to touch familiar and unfamiliar books, to hold them, to smell them, before plunging back down to finish the book with that same affirmative answer sounding in my ears.

Now The National Book Foundation that believes that reading is the most important part of our future has come to me out of the depths of all those libraries and all those loving times with all those voices combined as one and given me this affirmation.

To which, standing in the library door on those windy October nights when I was a child, listening to all my friends waiting on the twilight shelves, my answer is:

Yes!

Visit the National Book Foundation.