My favourite reads: Katy Gillett

There’s something I love about a good dystopian novel so here are five of my favourites

1984 by George Orwell (1949).
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There’s something I love about a good dystopian novel. Particularly the ones that make you question our future and change your perception of the present. Over the past year, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to read as many as I can. So far, these are my favourites …

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

Sorry to be so obvious, but this is a cult classic for a reason. While my favourite book by Orwell is still his memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London, 1984 – and Orwell in general – impacted me in a way no other story and author has. It's still as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 1948 (see what he did there?).

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

This book is a must-read if you are venturing into the genre of dystopia. This one really got me thinking, particularly when you consider the parallels that this “pain-free” universe draws with our current obsession with “wellbeing”. The story that Huxley tells paints a portrait of a potential future that you could easily buy into even now.

Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

This book is both an exquisite exercise in genius and genuinely baffling. Mainly, this is because of Burgess’s use of “nadsat”, the vocabulary he created for the teens in this fictional future England. Once I got used to words like “gulliver” (for “head”) and “droog” (for “friend”), it was fascinating and, despite the extreme violence, has a lot to say about human nature.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

It didn’t take me long to read this one – it’s short, easy to read, and hard to put down. As a writer, a piece of fiction about the pitfalls of an imagined future where literature is outlawed, spoke to me. It was Bradbury’s response to the threat of book-burning at the time. Ironically, his novel was banned. Mostly, it cemented my appreciation for literature and our access to it.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

While everyone was watching the TV programme, I read the book – and I’m so glad I did. Atwood’s style of writing blew me away; it’s so distinctive, gripping and deeply intelligent. And, of course, the idea that women will be vessels of fertility in the future is a scary thought – and one that is still relevant more than 30 years after the book was published.


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