Image source: BNW Movie Production
It feels, increasingly, as though we’re living in a time that will go down in the history books as the defining moment of the century. Regardless of where you currently live, there are challenges we couldn’t imagine we would face, back when we were studying history and reading classic literature in high school. But really, who knew we were studying playbooks for our future, back when we were analyzing dystopian novels?
Turns out, there are a fair number of people who were paying at least marginal attention in English class, because according to The Washington Post, sales of Orwell’s 1984 have gone through the roof since Trump came into power less than two weeks ago. If we really are heading into some kind of dystopian future, we’d best be prepared. Here are 10 books you need to go back and read now, for a hundred different reasons:
by George Orwell
Apparently, Amazon has sold out of this book by George Orwell. With the Trump administration talking about “alternative facts” and flat out denying truths and distracting the world from what they’re really trying to accomplish, there’s a rumour they’ve been using 1984 as their playbook.
by Anne Frank
Lest we forget, friends. Children that look or believe differently from your own children are still children. Remember that 7-year-old girl in Syria that was tweeting as Aleppo was under siege? The two aren’t that different, really.
by Aldous Huxley
It feels as though we are slowly making our way down the road that will lead us to drowsily taking soma and being engineered into “better” people. This feels more extreme than 1984 but not out of the realm of possibility anymore.
by Margaret Atwood
The subjugation and commodification of women, you say? Wait, is this happening with the current party in power, or in Atwood’s novel?
by Harper Lee
Given the rising racial tensions in the US, re-reading the foremost book on racial prejudice of the 20th century is kind of a requirement, I think. Good lord, there’s a whole slew of people out there I wish would read it for the first time, actually.
by Rachel Carson
I don’t know how many people remember this book, but it’s widely considered to be the first environmentalist book. With 2016 now recognized as the hottest year on record, perhaps it’s time to take this book, and all that have followed in its vein, a little more seriously?
by Cormac McCarthy
Dark times call for dark, dystopian fiction. This book is a bleak look at the future, but despite the horrors happening around us, we need to cling to what matters most: those we love.
by Yevgeny Zemyatin
If you want to read the book that inspired Orwell to write 1984, then get this book, now. There’s a reason Russia censored it for more than 60 years, before finally allowing it to be published. If you’re reading 1984, add this to your list, for the pure poetry of the writing.
by Malala Yousafzai
This is the story of a young girl who just wanted to go to school. She just wanted to be a normal kid. And yet she stood up to unimaginable evil, in order to do it. This is the truth we need to remember, in the west. Those who are fleeing countries that are embattled just want what we are privileged to have every single day: clean water, food, shelter, education, and jobs.
by Maya Angelou
There’s no book that takes us through the horrors of being an African American girl in a racist America better than this one. No one deserves this, and re-reading Angelou’s early childhood memoir is an incredibly important reminder to us all of the struggle women of colour have faced far too recently.
One major genre I want to acknowledge missing right now is that of First Nations writers. A few months ago, I would’ve recommended any number of novels by Joseph Boyden, but given his disputed First Nations heritage, I’m not ready to recommend him in that vein.
There are so many more books we should be reading again right now, or finally making time for, if you missed them the first time around. If you’re not happy with the current state of the world (and who the hell is?) you need to do some reading and recognize that the past is as dangerous a place as some of these dystopian futures.