1984

So I just finished reading George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984.  It was phenomenal.  Have you read it?  You should.  Or maybe you shouldn’t.

Actually, you shouldn’t.  You really shouldn’t.

And why shouldn’t you?

Because I did, and I am now terrified of Big Brother, Mr. Charrington, and the poem about the Chestnut Tree.  Because I am now deadly certain that our country will one day evolve into a superstate wherein we are brainwashed into lifeless automatons by an evil ruling party.  Because since closing the book, all I can think about is what terrors would await me in Room 101, should I ever be admitted.  (And surely, one day, I will be admitted.)

I’m a ginormous wimp when it comes to content, but I think most people would say that 1984 is seriously disturbing.  But they would also say–rightly–that it’s good.  And I’m still trying to decide if the brilliant writing was worth the bad dream I felt like I was swimming through as I read it.

What book do you love and hate?  What book do you wish you’d never read, but are so glad that you finally did?

Do you think a disturbing–not inappropriate, just disturbing–book is worthwhile if it makes you think about things you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise?  Do you think a disturbing book is inappropriate, just for the fact that it’s disturbing?  Should we avoid darkening our world with such colors, even for the sake of learning?   Will an unsettling but thought-provoking book strengthen your mind or just dampen your mood?  If a frightening book is written to make a larger political statement that will (hopefully) help us avoid the terrors it describes, is it desirable–even responsible–to read it?

What do you think?

I’m not sure what I think.  The easy answer is that I will always defend books that expand my mind and my world.  But the truth is, sometimes I want to unread things I’ve read, no matter how important the message delivered may be.  And then I start to wonder:  How far do we need to go?  How much do we need to fear?  When does disturbing cross the line into demoralizing?  Because I gotta tell ya, reading 1984 was like spending a week in purgatory–only a little less cheerful.

But oh, it was a good book.