Well, it seems that I have been roped into another challenge. Somehow, I thought these days were behind me the moment I began using this site strictly for professional reasons – you know, like book releases and promotions. However, when a friend and colleague nominates you, you got to step up! And hey, this challenge seems kind of fun and it is a way for writers (and aspiring writers) to share their influences.

Okay, so here are the rules of this challenge!

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Okay, so my first act is to say thanks to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my selection for the challenge, the time-honored classic 1984.

1984_cover

I know, I know, everybody claims that 1984 is their favorite book, and apparently it is the novel that people lie about having read the most. But I actually have read it, three times now, and I can say without hesitation or doubt that it is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

The book was initially recommended to me by one of my high-school English teachers (Mr. David Gamble). He taught us Post-Colonial Literature and 1984 wasn’t on our syllabus, nor was it part of the senior English curriculum that year. But as he put it, this was a book that we all needed to read before we went off to college, university or whatever else we were doing with our lives. It would change the way we saw the world, he said.

That summer, I borrowed a copy from my mother and began digging into it. At first, I was only able to read a few pages at a time since I typically read before bed and had an early morning job that summer (like most summers when I was a student, I was working construction). However, I took the book camping with me and managed to finish reading it in a few sittings. I was so engrossed that I stayed up late just so I could finish it. And when I was done, I felt haunted, moved, inspired, and terrified all at once!

Needless to say, Mr. Gamble had been right, it DID change the way I saw the world! And twice more since University I’ve gone back to the book to re-read it with more appreciative and mature eyes. I even keep a list of quotes from the book that have had an enduring impact on me. All of them are taken from the Goldstein Manifesto, which (lesser-known fact) was the part of the novel Orwell wrote first. In this respect, the Manifesto is the part of the novel where Orwell is speaking directly to his audience, conveying his thoughts on history, politics, and human evolution:

“From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, over-work, dirt, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations.”

“But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction – indeed, in some sense was the destruction – of a hierarchical society.”

“In earlier ages, class distinctions has not only been inevitable but desirable. Inequality was the price of civilization. With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered.Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.”

“In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it… But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable.”

See? Still holds up even after all these years!

Okay, now it’s my turn to nominate someone, and I choose Fallacious Rose from butimbeautiful.com! I’ve always found her to be a very interesting woman and would like to hear what books have spoken to her over the years.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

  1. The machine could destroy all those inequalities, but only if the ruling class in control of the machines is willing to spend money on cleaning up dirt and ending illiteracy. And given the world’s current lineup of leaders…I have my doubts. Sorry Mr. Orwell, but I call it as I see it.

    Great job, Matt. I look forward to seeing Day Two.

    1. That’s the interesting thing, the ruling class was unable to not redistribute the goods created by this process. Moreover, they found (by the late 19th/early 20th century) that they needed the workers to be able to buy the goods they were producing in order to ensure further expansion. This became the driving force behind “shorter hours, higher wages”, not to mention that ensuring better working conditions and wages were essential to ensuring that all the riots, protests and crackdowns could finally end.

      Today, we’re seeing a regression in many ways, since the industrialists found that they could begin outsourcing jobs to developing nations. However, this too has had an unintended consequence, in that people in developing countries are now pulling themselves out of poverty because of outsourced manufacturing and service jobs. In fact, extreme poverty has been cut in half since the 1990s, and the fastest growing economies are in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Soon enough, we are likely to see economic equilibrium between continents, and a narrowing between the ruling class and the rest of us.

      1. Yeah, that is the challenge. We need to basically make it through the crucible of Climate Change, and then sit back and watch our lives get endlessly complicated by technology. But at least human equality is a real possibility 🙂

  2. Thanks for tagging me! Alright, I accept the challenge, and will pass it on in my next blog post:) thanks again – and I also was deeply impressed, if that’s the word, by 1984. Worried, perhaps, would be a better one!

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