Our Book Club generally meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month from 12:00-1pm. We gather with sack lunches for a discussion around a book that we select as a community. All are welcome, wether you've barely cracked the book or already broken the binding from rereading it. And we ask that you help us to keep the discussion on track, sticking to the theme of the books that we've chosen.
Upcoming Book Club Discussions & Resources
Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25th from 12-1pm.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell. The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. The superstate and its residents are dictated to by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism, shortened to "Ingsoc" in Newspeak, the government's invented language. The superstate is under the control of the privileged elite of the Inner Party, a party and government that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as "thoughtcrime", which is enforced by the "Thought Police".
The tyranny is ostensibly overseen by Big Brother, the Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. The Party "seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power." The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party, who works for the Ministry of Truth (or Minitrue in Newspeak), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to rewrite past newspaper articles, so that the historical record always supports the party line. The instructions that the workers receive portray the corrections as fixing misquotations and never as what they really are: forgeries and falsifications. A large part of the Ministry also actively destroys all documents that have not been edited and do not contain the revisions; in this way, no proof exists that the government is lying. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker but secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother. The heroine of the novel, Julia, is based on Orwell's second wife, Sonia Orwell.
As literary political fiction and dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, and memory hole, have entered into common use since its publication in 1949. Nineteen Eighty-Four popularized the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. In 2005, the novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor's list, and 6 on the readers' list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC's survey The Big Read. (adapted from the Wikipedia entry for 1984)
Recently George Orwell’s classic book “1984,” has seen a surge in sales following the recent American election. The book has risen, to the top of the Amazon best-seller list in the United States in January 2017 which lead its publisher to have tens of thousands of new copies printed. Read more in a NY Times article of 1.25.2017. This sudden surge in interest is partly what motivated the choice of this book for our April club meeting.
SOME RESOURCES FOR engaging the ideas of this book
Book Summary | Cliffs Notes
SO ARE WE LIVING IN 1984? | The New Yorker (6.11.2013)
Past Book Club Discussions & Resources
We selected this book for our book group because of the media attention to it, out of esteem for David Brooks and an interest in his vision of what’s broken in today’s world and how to fix it.
some Resources for continuing thinking about his ideas
"‘The Road to Character,’ by David Brooks," Sunday Book Review in the NY Times
"U.S. Christianity is Dead, Long Live U.S. Christianity," on Religion Dispatches
David Brooks Explores 'The Road to Character’, on Forum with Michael Krasny (podcast)
"David Brooks' Search for Meaning", the New Yorker (May 27, 2015)