“Old” Books YAs Should Still Read and Why

This list is a work in progress.

1984 by George Orwell originally published in 1949

YAs should read 1984 because

  • this novel imagines the terrible consequences of total information control. Today, thanks to the Internet, false and highly biased news sites abound. Rather than constantly sorting through information, we often limit ourselves to a few favorite sources. Danger lies in choosing a few sources that never challenge our thinking or expose us to anything new—in giving them power over what we believe and how we think.
  • the characters are watched by Big Brother wherever they are. Even in their homes a telescreen both monitors and dispenses information constantly. The narrator says, “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” We are the most watched generation in history; not only have businesses and municipalities put up cameras everywhere, but we constantly take photos and videos of each other and post them for everyone to see. Social media sites have become resources for hiring, college admissions, and criminal investigations.
  • this book is at least as relevant today as it was just after WWII.

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