1984 by George Orwell

Best of: books for ages 18+ #1: ‘1984’ by George Orwell

It’s everywhere throughout pop culture. Room 101, Big Brother, Newspeak – the concepts Orwell created have a life far beyond the pages of this short novel. Even the term Orwellian is in frequent use, meaning a state of constant surveillance.

Published in 1949, Orwell’s dystopia tells the story of Winston Smith, who works for The Ministry of Truth, a governmental department. Through his eyes, we see a world different to our own in many ways, but with a number of scary similarities. Written at the time of the Cold War, it isn’t difficult to see unpleasant parallels with real-life political and social situations.

Recognised from its publication as one of the greatest pieces of literary fiction of all time, this book must be on everyone’s ‘to read’ list, if only to make a whole plethora of pop-culture references suddenly become clear. It’s scary, depressing, futuristic and political, which make it not ideal for dipping in and out of, or light reading, but if you can stomach it, you won’t regret picking it up.

By the same author: A range of essays and political writing, and other works of fiction, including the very famous (and brilliant!) ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’.