Four legs good, two legs bad! When farm animals decide to overthrow their human caretakers and set up their own government, their experiment in self-governance devolves into an authoritarian nightmare. This biting satire of totalitarianism is one of Orwell's best-known works. You will never look at pigs the same way again.
Okay, we realize that you probably weren't even born yet in 1984. But that doesn't make Orwell's prophecy of an all-seeing, all-controlling state any less chilling. Be careful who sees you reading it—Big Brother may be watching. Required reading for aspiring conspiracy theorists.
When his career in the British foreign service ended, George Orwell returned to Europe to make his way a writer. This fictionalized account of the lean, hard early years he spent eking out a living in the big cities is wildly entertaining.
This is not technically a book, but an essay. Orwell was a prolific essayist who reflected on everything from cooking to nuclear annihilation. Here, his target is sloppy, lazy writing, and the sloppy, lazy thinking that follows as a result. Bad writing—not unlike that found at times in high school classrooms—gives rise to undemocratic mindsets and we should stand shoulder to shoulder against such an atrocity. So to speak.
Emma Larkin is the pen name of an American journalist who works frequently in Myanmar, the oppressive military dictatorship that was formerly known as Burma. In this book, she retraces the sites Orwell visited and wrote about during the colonial days. The book is a thoughtful, engaging look at both Orwell and the Burmese people.
Of the many biographies written about Orwell, this book seems to be the definitive one. The book won the Whitbread Biography Award. It sheds light on the many contradictions between Orwell's staunchly radical political views and essentially conservative personal nature.
Acerbic Brit Christopher Hitchens usually prefers to write books about people he hates (a list that includes Henry Kissinger, Princess Diana, and, amazingly, Mother Teresa). In contrast, this book is a love letter to Orwell, celebrating his hero's qualities and taking his critics to task. Hitchens is an engaging writer, though he sometimes reminds you of the kid in the back of class who's just a little too impressed with his own cheekiness.