You know something is wrong when the daily news starts resembling sections of 1984.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager who has now become his adviser in the White House, solidified our feelings of “is this real life?!” when she recently referred to inaccurate statements about the size of the inauguration crowd as “alternative facts.” Twitter users quickly pointed out that this version of the truth is essentially ripped from the pages of George Orwell’s novel 1984, sending sales of the classic dystopian novel soaring.
So much so that 1984 has topped Amazon.com’s bestsellers list and flown off virtual shelves faster than the massive e-commerce site can restock them.
For those that skipped 1984 in English class, the comparison to alternative facts refers to the book’s idea of “newspeak,” a language created by the governing party to maintain control over the people. This variation on English is incredibly simplistic and marked by its lack of antonyms—you know, like, it’s not a lie, it’s an untruth (or say, an “alternative fact”)—which basically serves to limit free thinking.
So just because can’t get your hands on a copy of 1984 just yet, we’ve got other titles of futuristic fiction to keep you on your toes during this uneasy time. Just beware, they read more like cautionary tales.
A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Read the book before binging the upcoming Hulu series about the Republic of Gilead, where women have been stripped of so many rights that they are literally named according to the man they “belong” to and valued solely based on their ability to procreate. Because nothing says Trump era like a bunch of men deciding what women can and cannot do with their bodies. Bonus: This classic is authored by none other than Canadian treasure Margaret Atwood, and is currently #24 on Amazon’s bestsellers list.
Goodhouse, Peyton Marshall
Set in an America where genes determine whether you’re good or bad, rather than your actions, this novel explores an extreme form of profiling by targeting and segregating the offspring of criminals. Judging people based on where they come from? Now, where have we heard that before?
The Children of Men, P.D. James
If you’re in the mood for a full-blown end of the world story, this is your go-to. Set in a world where the human race has become infertile and the last generation is living out their final days, this novel turned Clive Owen movie is a story about finding hope, even when times seem darker than dark.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Enter a world where books are the enemy and TV is king. The story follows Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to set fire to books, which are considered illegal in this distorted futuristic society. A startling reminder of the power of the written word.
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
Named one of the New York Times’s “6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win,” this memoir may not cover a dystopian future but it takes a gritty look into life in small-town white America. Author J.D. Vance brings readers into his family home and gives them a glimpse into the struggles of America’s working class and perhaps a greater understanding of why a Trump presidency appealed to so many.
The Maddaddam trilogy, Margaret Atwood
OK, OK, so technically this is not one book, but a series of three novels: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where corporations and genetic engineering have destroyed society, these stories weave together the tales of different characters and their experience during the end of days and, eventually, their attempt to rebuild. And yes, consider this yet another shout-out to our girl Margaret. We can’t help but fangirl over her novels which are v. perfect for the overload of #feels Trump is giving us on the daily.
It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
Remember that time when everyone laughed at the prospect of Donald Trump, Cheeto-faced reality TV host, becoming the leader of the free world? No, that couldn’t possibly happen here. Oh wait. Lewis’s satirical, and at times all too real, novel explores an America that falls under the fascist rule of a leader who sounds v. familiar.
The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins
A dystopian world where where life, death and freedoms are decided for sport by a dictator masquerading as a president, bent on maintaining control over the masses? Sounds like the evening news these days. Revive your inner Katniss with the trilogy that will get you ready for the rebellion.
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
Corporations have taken over in this massive hit comedy, first published in 1996, that eerily predicted everything from smartphones to Netflix. Set in the mid-2000s, this novel even foreshadows the rise of a celebrity president, which hits all too close to home because as The Telegraph put it, “There’s no way an aggressive, narcissistic populist, drunk on his own bombast, could get anywhere near the presidency, right?” Right?
The Gate to Women’s Country, Sheri S. Tepper
Consider this the next chapter for the post-Trump world. After civilization as we know it comes to an end, women rise up and create a matriarchal society called Women’s Country, relegating men to a closed-off military bases. The novel follows young Stavia as she navigates this new world, its triumphs and pitfalls, and realizes that even when girls #RunTheWorld, there can be challenges.
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From our friends at Maclean’s: A dystopian reading list for the Donald Trump era