Since I’m returning to university for another graduate degree, I felt that it was time to do some more reading. (confession: I haven’t read a single novel of literary merit since completing my first MA two years ago, but of course the Overlord would get me back in the habit).

My book for September is We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, and I cried on eleven separate occasions while I read this book.

*Warning: There are spoilers ahead.*

My name is not Eileen Leary. I have never lived in New York.I am not the daughter of Irish immigrants, but I am the granddaughter of Norwegian ones. I will never be a nurse or have a son named Connell. I do not own my own house nor do I have any desire to purchase a fur coat. My ambition does not lie in physical possessions but intellectual accomplishments.

For all this, We Are Not Ourselves may be my own story.

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.

HBO released “Vengeance”, a new trailer for the hit series, Game of Thrones, this week, and it is INTENSE.

If you’ve read the books, you know that book 4, A Feast for Crows, because of it’s sheer size, was split into two parts by the man himself, George R.R. Martin. This split resulted in two novels taking place at the same time, focusing on two different POVs. In book 4, we read the stories of the 7 Kingdoms, focusing on the Lannisters, Starks, Greyjoys and the kingdom of Dorne.



A novel by George Orwell chronicling life under the watchful eye of Big Brother. A chilling look at a far off future when the book was penned in 1949, it is now a text that reveals a frightening future, 30 years past. The story, about a totalitarian society that feigns peace through terror and war and the man who questions it all, changed the way people look at politics and government while revolutionizing the science fiction genre.