I got the idea for this list from The Broke and the Bookish. Their blog hosts a weekly meme called “Top Ten Tuesdays”; and on November 8th this was their theme. I don’t actually follow the blog as closely as I should, and I have yet to officially participate in a TTT, but I loved this question, and I love lists, so I thought I’d answer it.
I am chosing only books that I have read this year due to the NYR/11; therefore the answer as to why I have read them is going to be the same for each book. I’ll simply state how I had pre-judged the book, if applicable, and how I felt about the read. Please note SPOILERS, don’t read past the title if you don’t want me to give away my *gasp* moments.
- His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman; I am 27 and am so over YA. I was a bit snobbish thinking this was just one more fantasy type book series I could do without. I cried like a baby over Hester and Lee, I enjoyed the whole story.
- Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol; I learned in my socials 11 class that this was a satire aimed at old rich folks in London, I was never interested in reading it as I thought it would probably be lost on me and I would be annoyed. I was right.
- Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy; All I knew was he had written War and Peace, and I wasn’t particularly interested in Russia or its history. Big, old, and boring was my pre-judgments. Amazing, engrossing, and beautifully descriptive with an awesome redemptive story line was my end feelings. This book is currently the top of my favorite reads of all time.
- Moby Dick – Herman Melville; This is going to sound bad, I thought it was a men’s book and I wasn’t interested. Reading it I decided it’s definitely a mens book, the beginning was funny, and I really didn’t need to know that much about whales or the killing of them.
- 1984 – George Orwell; I knew it would make me mad. It did. I knew everyone would either die or sell out. They did.
- Tess of D’ubervilles – Thomas Hardy; I’m not all too interested with Hardy so I wasn’t overly keen to read this. I find him overly wordy, flowery and somewhat depressing. Seems this is exactly how I felt about Tess.
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood; I was worried it was going to be overly preachy, feminist propaganda. It was actually a great read, if not a quick one. I have a lasting impression of the main character, and I find myself referring to the book in many of my political discussions with people.
- A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens; I thought I knew all about it because I knew the first twelve words; I was bored with it before I picked it up. This is an amazing book, I shouldn’t even have to tell you it’s the best Dickens novel out there, and the characters are so real it hurts.
- A Brave New World – Aldus Huxley; I knew nothing about this book. If I had I would have stayed away as it’s so far away from anything I normally read. It was interesting, and it was stretching. I felt un-comfortable the whole time as it was so weird to me, but I am glad I read it.
- The Inferno – Dante; I’m not into epic poems. As amazing as the imagery is in the Inferno, it’s still a long, epic poem. Beautiful and terrifying, and long.
Go read something that scares you.
I had never heard of this book before the list, therefore, I had no preconceptions on what it would be like. It’s like crazy man!
At first, this book was refreshing in its new (to then) take on the future. With all the genetically modified humans to fill the different casts/workstations, and the lack of age – yet not without consequence, it is a disturbing look at what may be. With each new chapter I was pleasantly surprised by the ‘out-of-this-world’ oddness of it all. This isn’t to say I was slightly uncomfortable with the bleak look into the not too distant tomorrow. I pretty much flew through it.
Then we meet ‘The Savage’. Now the book felt a little bit like Planet of the Apes. You know, the ‘oh this isn’t going to end well’ feeling. The, ‘why can’t we horrible humans just leave good enough alone!’ feeling. The ‘it’s inevitable, we’re going to F*%# up the whole universe’ feeling. And they do.
Poor Mr. Savage is introduced into a world of non-emotion, or pre-factored emotion. A world where death is made to be un-scary (wich of course makes it even more terrifying.) and something not to be sad about. He is gawked at, prodded, and almost poked. It doesn’t end well.
How many works of literature must be produced for us mindless sheep to consume before we actually get it? These are warnings! Read Animal Farm, 1984, A Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, god even The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Tell me what is so ‘far fetched’ in them?
Are you really so secure in your life that you don’t think one day you could be castrated without your consent just to keep a handle on booming population rises? Oh wait, that happened already. Ever read A Fine Ballance? Look up India 1977 “compulsory Sterilization”. Or just read this and try not to freak out when you see Canada and America on the list.
Where is this rant going you’re wondering? What’s the point /end game? Be ready. Walk around with your eyes open. Be willing to stand up to injustices and speak out. I’m not really that paranoid, but I’m not blissfully ignorant either. Sometimes a bit of paranoia may just save your life.
“And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.”
Doesn’t sound that far off, does it?