Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last night I completed my latest WOE reading. Some of you will remember that I try never to waste a moment, and especially not 5-10 minutes at a time if I could be doing something productive. So for most of my adult life I have engaged in what I call WOE reading. WOE stands for "While Otherwise Engaged" and is a polite way to say that I like to read when I am using the ol' WC. That's "water closet" for you young Americans. I've never read a "Bathroom Reader" but that doesn't mean I don't read in the bathroom.

So I've been reading George Orwell's classic 1984 for several months now, usually for just a few minutes at a time. Now you might think this makes it hard to stay with a novel but most of the time, at least for me, it makes it a much more drawn out process that it's like I become a part of the novel itself. This one took even longer than most classics that I read in this manner because my parents gave me a subscription to the Reader's Digest magazine for some reason and that tends to make its way in to my sacred space. I just gotta page through that sucker every time it's there.

So what can I say about this book that hasn't been said before? Having read it I can see how it has become regarded as classic fiction. Of course the year 1984 has come and gone and many folks say had it been titled "2009" it would have been much more accurate. I chose this book because my son had to read it for school (I was never assigned this one myself) but I always felt I "should" read it. So I have now. For those of you who haven't read it, it is a complex novel but with a fairly basic plot. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a functioning member of a society in the future who meets a woman he is attracted to. Much of the book surrounds their attempt to form a relationship in this society that just won't allow that sort of thing. Of course the real point and value of the novel is to illustrate where our current society may be headed if we don't change course, a sort of anti-utopian (dystopian?) novel. This book has brought us common terms such as "Big Brother", "doublethink", and "thought police." There are long sections where Winston reads to his girl friend from the official government manual detailing how the society came to be as well as the evolution of the government-speak ("Newspeak")language. An appendix further clarifies the language constructs. I am glad that I've read this novel but at the same time I can't say that I would ever want to read it again. My political/societal views are already pretty much cemented in place and this book, while thought provoking, did not change my views. I do agree that it should be studied at the High School level though, not only for its value to the world of literature but also as a way to kick start young people's thinking on what a society should and shouldn't be.

Ultimately this can be viewed as a hopeful book in that we can all chose to insure we remain commited to a truthful society, free to pursue independent thought, and vigilant against too much governmental control.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire