Note: This is going to be a two-part post because, life. Also, this post contains affiliate lists. If you make a purchase, I may make a small commission. So, feel free to click.
Today is the first day of a Trump administration. Based on a perusal of the newspapers this morning, I can tell that we’re in for four years of foolishness and distorted reality. This is like the slew of books, most geared toward young adult readers, that tell the stories of dystopian societies. Discussing this list with my sister, I asked her why so many of these books are marketed to our young people. “Probably” she replied before hanging up, “They catch the kids before they grow up and make mistakes like their parents?”
The books often have the same themes in common:
- a totalitarian society
- neighborhoods in districts and quadrants
- someone is exposed to an alternative existence
My first book is not a dystopian novel, but a non-fiction book. This is the harbinger of the state of the country. In All the Truth is Out by Matt Bai, Bai explores not just the implosion of Gary Hart’s presidency bid but challenges the reader to examine WHY we allowed our news coverage to become so salacious and intrusive. My feelings of the last election were not hidden: I hated both frontrunners and felt that the United States deserved much better. Bai explores the downfall of a man who could have remade the Democratic party while reporters delivered a news faster, quicker, juicier but not accurately.
““I tremble for my country when I think we may, in fact, get the kind of leaders we deserve.””― from “All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid”
The Circle by Dave Eggers, along with Black Mirror, is responsible for my covering of monitors and thinking twice about the intrusion of gadgets in my life. Like many bloggers, I am an early adopter of social media sites. I am surprised at how careless I was back in my early days, plugging information in registration forms with no care about how it would be used. The Circle explores how a young woman is so taken by a growing social media company, she fails to see how intrusive the company has become in the life of everyone she claims to care for.
“ALL THAT HAPPENS MUST BE KNOWN.”
― Dave Eggers,
1984 should have been the story that made me cautious about the use of social media but it is the Orwellian way the Amazon Echo could pick up conversations, causing people to be more mindful and cautious in their own homes that makes me pause. Talk about Big Brother might be watching! It was Kellyanne Conway claiming that Trump’s Press Secretary was giving “alternative facts” instead of admitting it was a lie and a nonissue. This is akin to Winston discovering the Party has lied about an event he clearly remembers but cannot find any trace. By allowing our news cycles to be normalized with coded speech and pursuing of non-issues, we begin to question the fake along with the legitimate.
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows”? – George Orwell, 1984
One of the tenets of The United States is the right to Freedom of Religion: you can practice any religion, or not practice a religion. So my quarterly crisis of faith is my right. In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler creates a community where the president declares he will make America great again. This president has a religious belief that eschews Muslims, Jews, and any other faith not following his prescribed doctrine. Oh how this 1993 book prophesied these times we live in now.
“Freedom is dangerous but it’s precious, too. You can’t just throw it away or let it slip away. You can’t sell it for bread and pottage.” — Octavia E. Butler (Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1))
The attack on education is the theme in Fahrenheit 451. When ideas are suppressed and free thought taken away, this leaves only spoon fed propaganda, regurgitated ideas, and like-minded people spewing knowledge that is a la carte: only the parts that a favorable are used. or others who are like minded ill-equipped to spread knowledge. Banned books become banned speech with leads to banned thoughts.
“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” ― Ray Bradbury,
Come back tomorrow for part two of this list!