With President Donald Trump’s “war” with the mainstream news media, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 have skyrocketed. In this tale of a dystopian society called Oceania, government fights back against any threats to its power with propaganda and media censorship. The novel’s protagonist, Winston, spends his days at the Ministry of Truth, revising past newspaper articles to better support government positions.
Alternative facts, anyone?
I don’t recall reading 1984 in high school. If I did, I happily managed to forget the experience. In the actual year of 1984 the book was prominently displayed in bookstores who hoped to capitalize on the current time period. I don’t know if they succeeded, but I did put the title on my TBR list. Seventeen years later in 2001 I finally read the classic.
And I won’t repeat the experience. I still get chills when I think of 1984. It tops my list of Important Books That I Wish I’d Never Read (I don’t really have such a list). If I need to “re-read” it I’ll peruse the Wikipedia entry.
However, I think YOU should read 1984. Or re-read it as the case may be, especially if you don’t share my icky memories.
Since the election, I’ve added these titles to my TBR list:
Handmaid’s Tale by the gifted Margaret Atwood. This futuristic tale set in New England tells of a totalitarian regime that has taken power and stripped women of their civil rights. Like 1984, it is enjoying a comeback.
Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson is a non-fiction account of the career of William Dodd, the American Ambassador to Germany during the years 1933 to 1937, when he and his family lived in Berlin.
Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, during the McCarthy era. He once stated that he wrote the dystopian novel because of his concerns at the time about the threat of book burning in the United States.
I may put Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here on my list. Published in 1935, it recounts the rise of an authoritarian fascist leader in the U.S.
The Huffington Post offers a reading list of 10 Orwellian books about censorship and the power of words.
Readers, feel free to offer your own reading suggestions in the comments.
Happy reading, everyone.