Take a trip into the past, to see the future that could have been with George Orwell’s classic. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

During the school year, when you feel like readings are piled up to your ears, reading for fun can seem like a ridiculous idea—but it shouldn’t. Reading is the fastest way for you to make an escape into the world of your choosing, and expand your vocabulary without even knowing it. The underappreciated world of literature offers endless benefits, so without further ado, check out this week’s read.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (by George Orwell)

Traditionally, autumn is the season of ghouls and ghosts. Even though vampires and other spirits are immortal this time of year, they’ve been written to death, so why not indulge in some horror fiction that leans more on the psychological side of things?

George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four is no stranger to this kind of literary terror.  After all, what is scarier than the omniscient Big Brother, the figurehead of a totalitarian regime that watches your every move, criminalizes thought, and exercises mind control?

For those of you who didn’t read this one in high school, the plot revolves around Winston, a common man working at the government’s Ministry of Truth. The world around him is typified by ongoing surveillance and endless propaganda, and he spends his days rewriting history and drinking Victory Gin.

Julia, a young girl who Winston hates, works in the Fiction Department maintaining the novel-writing machines. One day she hands him a note confessing her love. After concluding that she isn’t a spy, Winston hatches a plan for the two to meet up. Of course, their romance is doomed from the start, as the ever present eye of Big Brother doesn’t allow any bit of happiness or joy to bloom in this grim future.

Nineteen Eighty-Four isn’t your typical horror thriller, but it does stir up those same feelings in the reader. For many people, nothing is more terrifying than the subjection of common people due to psychological rule. Even though Orwell imagined the novel as a “what-if” scenario, a threat like massive government surveillance and censorship is still a reality for people living in certain parts of the world.

To counterbalance those heavy themes, the novel is a short read. If you’re really committed you could easily burn through it over the course of a weekend. But once you read it you’ll feel a lot more different, and pessimistic, about the world around you.

So, if you feel like you have the stomach for it, be sure to cozy up with some Orwell and get lost in a future that existed thirty-two years ago.