Can you believe that I didn’t read 1984 in high school? Wasn’t pretty much everyone else assigned that book?
I struggled the first time I tried to read this book. I got to a certain point and put it down, intending to pick it back up. But then I didn’t for another four years.
The second time I tried to read it, I must have been in a different place mentally, because I loved it. I won’t say that I sped through it; it still took me about two weeks, but I enjoyed it.
The whole book is frightening; I can’t stand the thought of having my freedom restricted, especially not to such a degree that it is in this novel. The idea that someone is watching me, that I’m not even supposed to have thoughts of my own, is horrifying.
The book begins with the main character completing a subversive act. He’s bought a journal, and intends to write in it. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t write my thoughts down, if I didn’t know that I could keep certain thoughts private, and say anything I like publicly. Whether or not anyone reads this blog, I have the right to post my thoughts and opinions. People are free to agree or disagree.
One of the things that happens in the book is that government officials are destroying words. Instead of being able to choose from amazing, wonderful, awesome, good, and terrific, the replacements are good, plusgood, and plusplusgood. Imagine, not having a variety of words to choose from!
My personality is reflected by the words I choose. I’m not a fan of censorship in any form (other than personal censorship by choosing not to read or listen to something). Controlling thoughts begins with controlling language.
This book gave me a much deeper understanding of how important language is to personal freedom. It’s a slippery slope, once we start valuing some words more than others, putting some words on the approved list, and kicking others off.
Think about it: words are just letters put together. The sounds they make are meaningless, until we ascribe meaning to them. And those meanings can change over time.
I love to read horror novels, and this isn’t one. But honestly, this might be the scariest book on this list.