1984 by George Orwell

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I am utterly horrified and in love with this book. What an incredibly creative and unique work of fiction with some crazy parallels to modern life. Let me begin by saying I’m not the biggest George Orwell fan in the world. One of my high school literature classes assigned Animal Farm, and it was, admittedly, not an experience I look back on with fondness. I quite literally hated that story. I still get chills in my very core thinking about it. (Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, bit I didn’t like it, okay?) Perhaps one day I’ll grow out of my Orwell-induced fear of pigs and communism, but that day is not today.

That being said, I have to say that 1984 surpassed all of my expectations by being enjoyable at all, and went beyond that by actually making fall in love with some of the characters and have some really in-depth thoughts on the world—both the fictional world in the story, and the real world in which I live.

I love a lot of books, but very few make me think about the world around me in such a profoundly new way. That is probably the main reason this book hit four-and-a-half stars for me. One element I found particularly disturbing was the way everyone was recorded, watched, and analyzed at any and every moment. For this reason, the main character, Winston, spends quite a bit of time doing his best to hide from cameras. When he is around them, he spends his time perfecting his expressions as to reveal nothing the government might find suspicious. Beyond the fact that it sounds like a generally horrifying situation, I realized that I would be completely doomed if someone were looking at my face 24/7, waiting for me to do something out of the ordinary.

I make strange faces all the time. I would be as good as dead in that world. In that respect, Winston is an incredibly impressive fellow, for sure.

As for the parallels I notice within modern society, the main one I pull from the story is the idea that society tells us certain thoughts are right and certain thoughts are wrong. Whether your ideas concern something serious or the fact that you do or don’t like a fictional relationship, people seem to find joy in collectivizing themselves against a common “enemy” that they deem as incorrect and, therefore, harmful—even if all that person did was, for example, say they like something that isn’t generally deemed popular. That was a mouthful, but hopefully you get my drift. I’m basically just saying that mob thought is definitely a thing in almost every facet of life, and that people love to hate others for the things they think.

Which is a super weird thought considering all of us have an unpopular opinion or two.

I digress.

Another part of the story I loved was the fact that I truly cared for the characters, even the main female character, who I was at first sure I would hate, and whose role won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t read 1984 yet. But you know when you read a book, and you can just feel that the author put no thought into a certain character and added them as an afterthought? Or when all the characters feel like they are there only to advance the plot, not to play their own unique role? I never felt that with these main characters. I can tell a lot of thought was put into them, shaping them into unique individuals I haven’t seem the likes of in anything else.

The reason I was so surprised with this was that I merely didn’t expect it, considering the publishing year. I often find that older books do use characters only to advance the plot, because that’s just how a lot of stories were written (and there’s nothing wrong with that, in the right story). That being said, 1984 was only stronger for it’s use of characters that matter to the reader, as well as its compelling plot.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a thought-provoking piece of fiction, or anyone looking for a change of pace from literally any modern books they’ve been reading. I cannot stress how incredible this story is.

5 Books on My TBR List

With the stress of the election, and the fact that I’m currently sick and prefer to sleep the day away, I admitted have not been reading as much as I would like to. That means I do not currently have a book review for you.

But fear not! Because I’ve put together a short to-be-read list instead.

These are all books I hope to read in the near future. When exactly will that be? I’m not positive. But hopefully soon, since some have been lingering on my list for years.

1. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

After finishing Dune and Dune Messiah, continuing the series is a no-brainer. The storyline is simply amazing. The characters are superb.

What surprises me most about the series is that I enjoy it despite it being classified as a sci-fi fantasy. I typically shy away from science fiction. Historically, I haven’t exactly loved the books I’ve read from the genre. In addition, fantasy isn’t usually my favorite. So the fact that I enjoyed Dune at all is enough of a miracle to keep reading.

2. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Ah yes, Percy Jackson. Yet another series which I have begun and failed to finish. I can’t even remember the last time I read a series all the way through. I think I was a read-three-books-and-drop-the-series kind of gal straight out of the womb.

But this time, I vow to finish the “dam” series. Get it? The Titan’s Curse joke?

So, I’m posting this to hold myself accountable. Feel free to yell at me if I haven’t picked it up by the end of the year.

3. Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Do I know this is absolutely going to scare the living hell out of me? Sure. Am I going to miss a week of sleep due to the lingering fear that a clown is somehow going to catch me in a cornfield? Sure. Am I going to read it anyway? Probably.

At this point, I’m banking on the fact that I’ve watched both It films and survived to tell the story. If I can watch those, I can read this, right? Who knows? But I’m so intrigued I have to at least give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

4. How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro

Listen, Ben Shapiro and I have had our differences. I won’t deny it. But if anybody thinks that will stop me from reading his superbly written books, they’re dead wrong.

I recently read The Right Side of History and was absolutely blown away by his writing. Honestly, it’s fantastic and not at all what I was expecting. I know he’s intelligent and well-spoken, but that doesn’t always translate to the page for everyone. Fortunately for him, it does.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’ve heard this is one of the classics that is actually superb, so I am making a point to work it into my reading agenda. I’m not much for books that were written forever ago. I typically go for those that were penned in the more recent past, like Dune. This also doesn’t fit very well into the genres I most enjoy.

But I feel like it’s important to occasionally step out of the bookish world you know and love, in order to explore something new that you might end up loving just as much, or even more.

Comment and let me know a book or two that are on your to-be-read list!

Finally Fall Book Tag

More like finally doing this book tag. I mean gosh, it’s already snowed at my house! I better hurry up and do this before I run out of time.

Thank you to Cherelle the Bibliophile for the tag! I love how welcoming the book blogging community is. You’re all so great!

I don’t really know who to tag, so if you have a blog and you haven’t done this yet, please consider yourself tagged!

Now onto the good stuff…

IN FALL, THE AIR IS CRISP AND CLEAR: NAME A BOOK WITH A VIVID SETTING.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this book forever ago for an English class—I believe it was middle school—and I absolutely adored it. The world in which it takes place is fascinating. The black-and-white versus color perspectives of the story are incredibly creative.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t somewhere I would want to live. But it was such a great read in an entirely intriguing setting.

NATURE IS BEAUTIFUL… BUT ALSO DYING: NAME A BOOK THAT IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, BUT ALSO DEALS WITH A HEAVY TOPIC LIKE LOSS OR GRIEF.

Night by Elie Wiesel

I’m not much for sad stories, but I do remember reading Night back in middle school. It literally broke my heart. I still think about it. Often.

Despite how much I don’t like reading depressing books, this one was undoubtedly worth it. The holocaust is a topic about which I firmly believe we need to continue to educate ourselves.

FALL IS BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON: SHARE A NON-FICTION BOOK THAT TAUGHT YOU SOMETHING NEW.

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro

Ironic how I’m using this book under a category that deals with school… But I learned so much from it! Far beyond modern political stances, Shapiro spoke deeply about the ways in which religion and Western philosophy shaped the world as we know it. And it was deep, as in textbook-level deep, but I loved it. I learned so much about the ways in which different forces in the world work together.

IN ORDER TO KEEP WARM, IT’S GOOD TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE: NAME A FICTIONAL FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD/FRIEND-GROUP THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BE PART OF.

The Half Theft by Brooke Nelson (aka me, duh)

I promise I’m not about to lapse into self-promo, so hear me out. I wrote this book in such a way that I did what I had never seen another author do: create a friend group that I actually loved.

Charlie is just perfect and such a dork. And Maeve, the love of my life who makes me feel better about how clumsy I am. And…well, I won’t spoil anyone else for you.

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR SOME STORYTELLING BY THE FIRESIDE: SHARE A BOOK WHEREIN SOMEONE IS TELLING A STORY.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts at least a couple times, I adore these books. And the narration is one of the best parts!

They are so unique in the sense that they are told from the perspective of Lemony Snicket, a man who is documenting the Baudelaire children’s case in hopes of helping them reach safety.

THE NIGHTS ARE GETTING DARKER: SHARE A DARK, CREEPY READ.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Scary books are a big no for me! I’m not built for that.

That being said, The Woman in the Window is a thriller that I found super creepy and fun. For anyone who isn’t a fan of actual scary books, but loves a good mystery, I would highly recommend this. It was nicely paced and a fairly easy read.

The writing is simply superb.

THE DAYS ARE GETTING COLDER: NAME A SHORT, HEARTWARMING READ THAT COULD WARM UP SOMEBODY’S COLD AND RAINY DAY.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This is one of the very few times I am actually going to say you need to read this! Especially if you’re a Christian, since the series is an extended metaphor for the Bible.

The stories are so heartwarming and beautiful. I really cannot believe it took me until 2020 to read this series. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for ages!

FALL RETURNS EVERY YEAR: NAME AN OLD FAVOURITE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO RETURN TO SOON.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Shoutout to my mom who, back when I was in middle school and I ordered this book from the library, kept returning it without my knowledge because she thought the plot sounded morbid. See, parents? That’s what you do if you don’t like a book. You don’t ban it. You repeatedly return it on your kids.

Fast forward to now, she’s just as big a fan as me!

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR COZY READING NIGHTS: SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE COZY READING “ACCESSORIES”!

My cats! Do they count? I would say my dog, but all he does it lick the pages, which is hardly helpful. My cats, on the other hand, are content to fall asleep on my lap or, on their more difficult days, fight on top of the pages.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What are your thoughts?

Saviors, Slayers, and Strong Women

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! In case you haven’t come upon one of these posts in the past, they are just a fun way to look at our current reading experiences.

The three Ws are:

  • What is the last book I read?
  • What book am I currently reading?
  • What do I think I will read next?

What is the last book I read?

The last book I read was Dune: Messiah by Frank Herbert. I have such mixed feelings about this book, especially after reading its predecessor, Dune. I will say I did enjoy this book, just maybe not as much as the first.

It was good, and now that I’m done, I am definitely happy that I read it. It was just so depressing to read though. The fact that Paul is able to read into the future added such a layer of sadness to this story. Not to be dramatic but honestly, I just kind of sat around wanting to cry a lot of the time while I was reading Messiah.

But, on the other hand, the writing! What a fantastic author Frank Herbert is. He has a truly one-of-a-kind method of drawing the reader into the fantastic world that is his imagination.

What book am I currently reading?

What an absolutely strange and wonderful book! Since the start, I have been just a little confused about what is happening. But not the type of confusion that makes me want to give up and quit reading. More like the type of confusion that makes me want to read even more.

I find the main character, along with the rest of the cast, thoroughly enjoyable so far. That isn’t usually the case for me, so I am quite pleasantly surprised. Evelyn gives me the same kind of vibes as Lucy Gray from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

My favorite aspect of this book is its uniqueness. I truly have never read something like it, yet I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that is so different. This is definitely a book that I will be writing a review on. I already have so much to say, and I’ve hardly begun!

What do I think I will read next?

My birthday was last week and among the lovely gifts I was given was Candace Owens’ new book! Like almost every other bookworm, I have a TBR list longer than I am tall, so I have quite a few other books I had planned on reading before starting this.

However, I’m super excited to begin Blackout as soon as possible. Candace is one of the few political commentators I have followed on social media for years, and I find pretty much everything she has to say fascinating. She’s such a strong, intelligent woman!

So, I have to apologize to the rest of my to-be-reads, because Candace just shoved them all aside. I can’t wait to get started and see what I think of this!

What book(s) are you currently reading?

The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great by Ben Shapiro

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re a fan of Western philosophy and religion, boy have I got the book for you! I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that gave me so much to think about in such a succinct manner.

I should begin by telling you I am not a fan of nonfiction books. As in, I actively avoid them at all costs.

As to my reason for picking out this book, I cannot tell you. I guess I’ve been stuck in a bit of a reading rut, going over the same sorts of topics and feeling a little disappointed. Maybe even a little bored.

So I thought, why not spice up my life with a little Ben Shapiro?

And spicy it was, indeed.

I’m not going to review this book in terms of what I do and don’t agree with, as that would only take into account my preexisting feelings and beliefs and none of the writing. That sort of takes away from this kind of review, don’t you think?

So, throwing my personal beliefs out the window for the moment, I want to say that this was just plain a fantastic book!

I could tell right off the bat Shapiro did his research. He cites everything from modern research, to historical documents, to the Bible and the Torah. And he uses them exceedingly well in his argument about the importance of the values of Western civilization that we have lost in modern times.

This book was published last year, making its information extremely relevant to our lives today, maybe even more so than it would have been just one year ago.

My only complaint is that some of the descriptions got lengthy, as in I got a little sleepy. But everything he said had a purpose to it, so I can forgive the slower parts.

“America is struggling right now in a lot of ways. But its largest struggle is the struggle for our national soul. We are so angry at each other right now. That anger is palpable. Where did it come from? It came from the destruction of a common vision.”

— Ben Shapiro

I mean, woah!

Shapiro argues that the West is falling apart because we have lost our common vision, and that is to live under God and worship God, acting in accordance with His will.

While I was aware that Western civilization is not nearly as religious as it used to be, I didn’t exactly consider that might be the root of our problems.

One of the other aspects of this book—besides than the mindblowing revelations about religion and philosophical thought—that I love most is that Shapiro writes simply, but with great purpose.

No sentence is merely a glob of words. It’s a meaningfully constructed entity that makes me look at the world through a new lens. Not on political issues, as I already know where I stand, but on life as a whole. That’s the beauty of a book written about philosophy and religion, even if it is penned by a political figure. It focuses on something greater than our lives right here and right now.

“My father is fond of saying that in life, there aren’t six directions (east, west, north, south, up, and down). There are just two: forward and backward. Are we moving toward something or away from it?”

— Ben Shapiro

This might be one of my favorite quotes of all, because it can mean so many things in so many different contexts.

Think about it: isn’t the whole point of life to move forward, toward something?

I love that thought, though I might not have the slightest idea what that final destination is that I am working my way toward. But what better way is there to live than to look at oneself, one’s actions, one’s beliefs, and ask: am I moving forward?

From a community standpoint, it’s also interesting to think about where society is moving. What are we headed toward in the future? Is it wiser to look to the past for advice, paying careful attention to what has previously been proven successful in western countries, and what shaped us? Or do we disregard where we came from and look in another direction entirely?

“If we fight alongside one another rather than against one another, we are stronger.”

— Ben Shapiro

I tried to find the perfect quote to wrap up this review and, sure enough, there it was!

Can we all agree on this one point? I hope we can all agree on this one point.

Individuality is wonderful. Believe me, I am the biggest proponent of individuality, the poster child of being a loner and doing what I want.

But Shapiro is absolutely right that we are stronger united.

Whether we band together under religion, beliefs, interests, or simply under the fact that we are all human beings, we are stronger together.