Consider This Classic is a monthly feature where bloggers highlight and recommend their favorite classic. They'll tell you when they first read it, why they love it and where to go from there.
Today, Tara from The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh! is recommending a book that isn't just her favorite classic - it's her favorite book ever. I KNOW! I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read this classic. I somehow missed it in high school, even though it's typically assigned reading then. Tara has definitely made me feel like I need to pick it up, and she also wins for one of my favorite blog names. So clever!
Publication Year: 1949
Originally Published In: United Kingdom
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101...
Ninteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.
I first read 1984 in ninth grade, and I think it was one of the only books I actually read that year. I fell in love immediately! The novel has always felt like “my” novel because I was born in 1984. I have grown up in the time that Orwell predicted would be bleak and miserable, censored and controlled. Since my original read, I have read the book twice more for class assignments and once on my own. It's not just my favorite classic -- it's my favorite book. Period.
It may not be the original dystopian novel, but 1984 is the book that inspired so many of the dystopian novels in the modern day. And there's a good reason why the story has been so inspirational! The world Orwell crafts is at once terrifying and fascinating. This is a world where every aspect of life is controlled by the State, and the State can convince you of anything. One of my favorite lines (and one of the most popular), demonstrates this perfectly:
"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it."
I am not pessimistic to the point where I believe our society will ever face the level of extreme control that would result in Thought Police, but I do think that 1984 brings up some important questions about government and personal freedom. Reading this book makes me appreciate my comfortable life where I can write what I want, read what I want, and love who I want.
Any modern dystopian novel could be considered similar, but I would like to recommend two other classics that take up similar themes in similarly influential ways: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.