Book Suggestions?

A friend of mine sent me this email this morning:

Good morning.

Read any good books lately? I am looking for something to read. I’m all “hobbited out” for the moment.

I’d love to find something in the vein of 1984, but that provides commentary on our current slide towards an authoritarian state.

At least the Supreme Court seems willing to occasionally show some backbone.

Eric

I responded by saying that most of my reading energy is going to be spent in trying to get through the literally 12 pounds of books I was sent as preparation for my summer fellowship for teaching the Holocaust in July.  Does anyone have any suggestions for Eric that might meet his criteria?

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Book Suggestions?

  1. All the books that I can come up with are set when the “place” is already in the totalitarian state.

  2. I would go with A Brave New World which was published in 1930. Most astute actors could see the rise of a totalitarian state a’la the Bolsheviks, but did not see Germany to the extent of power they rose to.

  3. I always freeze up when someone asks me for book suggestions but this time, Ms. Chili, I managed to come through for you!

    How about Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? Ectotopia by Earnest Callenbach is one I haven’t read but I’ve heard good things about it.

  4. I spent an hour at B&N in N’ton yesterday and 45 minutes in Borders in C’rd today. I bought these two books, but they are teen reads…historical though.

    Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian about the Armenian genocide and

    Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen and Elizabeth D. Crawford about the Rwanda genocide.

  5. I don’t know if it qualifies but I just read 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It’s a fictionalized account of a school shooting and, while it’s a bit of a fluff detective-writer book, she does the psychology of all the sides of the shooting pretty well and it doesn’t say much that’s nice about our society and where we’re headed.

    Also, it’s not a book but Battlestar Gallactica is a pretty serious commentary on all our current decisions regarding war and survival and race and gender and everything else. I’m in the 3rd Season now and it’s continuing to rivet me.

    I’ll second the rec for Handmaid’s Tale, too.

  6. Handmaid’s Tale is a good call.
    I’d also read It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. It’s a little dated… but at the same time it’s frighteningly current…

    I also just finished reading Child 44 – it’s a mystery set in 1950′s Soviet Russia – a very, very scary look at life in a totalitarian society…

  7. I have one more to add. I love House of Stairs by William Sleator. Fantastic. It’s marketed as YA but it’s great for adults as well. In fact, I may reread mine this weekend!

  8. Another vote for Handmaiden’s Taletoo. I’d add Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

  9. Everyone should read Handmaid’s Tale!

  10. If he’d be interested in graphic novels, V for Vendetta is quite good (though I think the movie may have done a better job creating a scenario that rings more true to our current situation and fears).

  11. fermat

    How about “A Canticle for Liebowitz” by Walter Miller? It’s futuristic and about the seperation of church and state and has the same themes as “Fahrenheit 451.” It could be relevant given the church’s involvement in life today.

  12. I soooo love Brave New World! Um. Actually, one of my favoritest books EVAR (Epic) is semi-dystopic and gives some background about how and why the group in power became powerful and was able to maintain it. Bit of a stretch, though.

    Another adult dystopia is Anthem. There’s also some awesome YA lit in the… genre? subgenre? I dunno.

    Uglies (and then Pretties, Specials, and Extras if you like the writer’s style)
    The Giver (Gathering Blue and Messenger)
    The City of Ember (The People of Sparks)
    Stolen Voices
    and possibly the series that begins with Among the Hidden.

    I really like comparing BNW with 1984, because they’re both dystopian novels and have some strong similarities. As a result, the differences are in theme and vision, and you kinda have to hunt for ‘em. Yum! WRT moving towards totalitarianism, the former implies that the shift was more subtle, but in neither case was it completely abrupt, which implies that there was a point in the history of both books during which citizens lost rights because they allowed it to happen.

    Ok, hushing now. ;)

    Chili, would you be willing to discuss Holocaust planning?

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