I was recently asked, “What do you like to read?” I listed the last five novels I’ve read and–to the shock of no one–3 of 5 were dystopian. Even if you’ve never heard the term “dystopian,” you’ve probably seen/read/heard about it. A “dystopian” society is one characterized by suffering, oppression, or extreme poverty, and it is usually a future that society has brought upon itself. Think of it as what happens after the end of the world.

So if you’re looking for some new reading or looking to explore a new genre, here’s my favorite dystopian novels, ranked in no particular order.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984Nineteen Eighty-Four is the foremost example of dystopian literature, as far as I’m concerned. This was the book that changed my view of how and what I could write, and even now, the creepiest phrase ever written is, “Big Brother is watching.”

This book is also considered a political novel as well as science-fiction, but it serves as a terrifying reminder of what could  happen. It seems that dystopian writers share a similar fear: a government too powerful and too involved.

The film was later adapted into radio programs, and even a few films were adapted. Also, David Bowie wrote a song called “1984.”

The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giverThis book was the first one I read after I had completed grad school. Now, if you’ve ever studied literature, you probably understand that “burned out” feeling when you think about reading for fun. Having studied literature for seven years, I was tired of reading. But, I wanted to write dystopic fiction and as any good writer knows, you have to read the genre you want to write in.

I read this book in a matter of hours, and afterward, I’d never been so glad to see the world in color.

A film adaptation is due to be released later this year.