You Should Read These Novels If You Loved ‘1984’

1984 is by far one of the most referenced dystopian tales since being published in 1949 by George Orwell. His work of speculative fiction theorized a future where thoughts are controlled by a government that has crippled the populace with totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation. War is a1 constant and propaganda is everywhere that’s impossible not to be caught up in the fervor of nationalism. So prolific was this book that its author became the new term for referring to something resembling dystopia as being Orwellian. The book itself would be adapted into three movies, three TV specials, and a slew of radio plays. It has also been one of great influences that spawned a number of comparable novels handling similar subjects of an encroaching government on a future that has gone downhill. Here are some of the best books that would no doubt be considered Orwellian.

Fahrenheit 451

written by Ray Bradbury
Published in 1953
256 pages

Not long after Orwell published 1984 that the second most notable of dystopian nobles would debut from acclaimed writer Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 depicts a future where television has overtaken literature to such a degree that books are banned and burned. Guy Montag is one of the designated “firemen” tasked with starting the fires in which literature will disappear. He seems to live a comfortable life with his wife, Mildred, but is introduced to the more intriguing world of the past by his neighbor, Clarisse. Soon, Guy starts questioning everything when Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse goes missing. Fahrenheit 451 has become so prolific it’s been adapted into two movies, stage plays, radio plays, a comic book, and even a computer game.

The Handmaid’s Tale

written by Margaret Atwood
Published in 1985
311 pages

Women’s rights become a thing of the past in this dystopian future. In the Republic of Gilead, Offered is a handmaid with reduced freedoms. She is forbidden to read, she must wear a uniform at all times in public, and her worth is graded specifically on how likely it is that she can become pregnant. Enslaved for the sake of procreation, Offered struggles to remember her past life with a husband and child before everything she had was taken away. With its dark satire, The Handmaid’s Tale ballooned into a series of books and would eventually become a hit TV series on Hulu in 2017.

Never Let Me Go

written by Kazuo Ishiguro
Published in 2005
288 pages

The English boarding school of Hailsham seemed pleasant enough from the outside with its students being given a proper and detailed education. Yet one topic always seems not to be a part of the curriculum: the outside world. Even more troubling, they’re not allowed contact with the outside world. The residing student of Kathy aims to find out why but may not be prepared for the shocking secrets she finds concealed in the ground of Hailsham. Never Let Me Go evokes a young adult-targeted dystopia that is loaded with mystery, romance, suspense, and deep societal questioning.

The Circle

written by Dave Eggers
Published in 2013
493 pages

In the near future, The Circle has become one of the most powerful internet companies. Their success has led to them merging everything about a person’s online identity into one cohesive piece of programming, connecting everything from their social media profiles to their banking accounts. Mae Holland takes a job at The Circle and feels as though she’s hit the big leagues. But when her role in the company becomes far too public, she fears she is in too deep working for a company that aims to curb privacy. The Circle would be developed into a film in 2017 starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, and Patton Oswalt.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

written by Philip K. Dick
Published in 1968
210 pages

Taking place in 2021, the future of Phillip K. Dick’s most iconic novel depicts a world where androids are utilized for labor. Though they look human, the androids are treated like slaves to the point that if they start to go rogue they are hunted rather than arrested. Although since they’re not considered that sentient, the societal term favored is retirement. Rick Deckard is a detective assigned the task of android hunting. However, he may not be prepared for the secrets unearthed that’ll shake his very perceptions of human identity. In 1982, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep would be developed by Ridley Scott into a movie that has become one of the most iconic movie depictions of a dystopian Los Angeles.

The Iron Heel

written by Jack London
Published in 1908
354 pages

Books prior to 1984 also addressed a concerning nature of authoritarianism from a dystopian future. The Iron Heel is one such novel that had a rather controversial story to tell, detailing the rise of an American oligarchy that transforms the United States into one of dark tyranny. A deeply thoughtful view on the future of politics and society, Jack London wrote this groundbreaking novel based on his socialist politics and harsh criticism of the capitalist system, with a shocking number of predictions that came true a century later.

It Can’t Happen Here

written by Sinclair Lewis
Published in 1935
400 pages

Prolific author Sinclair Lewis penned this provocative dystopian tale of how easy it is for fascism to take over when Democracy has grown so weak. This work of political satire speculates on what would happen if a United States President rose to power based on a platform of saving the nation by doing whatever is necessary to preserve patriotism. This leads to the nation’s leader becoming less of a President and more of a dictator as a nation so easily slips into fascism under the guise of defending the country. It not only served to be a timely bit of literature for the era it was made but stands tall with the test of time where fascism is still on the rise.


written by Anthony Burgess
Published in 1978
240 pages

Anthony Burgess’s 1985 is less of a sequel to Orwell’s novel and more of a critique. Through parodies and essays, Burgess taps into just what makes a novel like 1984 come about and why it resonates for readers long after publication, documenting the intriguing apocalyptic codex. These writings are then followed up with Anthony’s own dystopian writing that draws upon the present to theorize the future, taking note of social issues, surveillance, security, and the encroaching nature of technology. The book remains just as intriguing today as a companion to 1984 and a remarkable dystopian novel in its own right as one of Burgess’s most important and intriguing stories.


written by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Published in 1924
255 pages

Not only does this classic dystopian novel display similar shades of 1984, but it was also responsible for inspiring Orwell’s book and even the works of Ayn Rand. The story, taking place in 2060, is set in a totalitarian society of glass-enclosed city that is ruled over by the Benefactor. Creativity and passion are elements of the past that have been scrubbed away by such society. That all may change once a mathematician D-503 makes the introspective discovery that he indeed has a soul. This powerful work of early dystopian fiction based on the issues of Soviet Russia, and consequently suppressed for many years, would not only inspire 1984 but also the likes of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

The Trial

written by Franz Kafka
Published in 1925
255 pages

Josef was a mild-mannered banker who didn’t seem to get into trouble until one day he was arrested. He now finds himself struggling to defend himself in a courtroom trial but with very little information on how to do so. The Trial is a maddening contemplation on how totalitarianism can keep us in the dark by denying us the truth. It has also been considered a bit of parable and an existential tale that would have fitted right in as an episode of The Twilight Zone (possibly inspired one). What’s unique about Kafka’s novel is that he wrote the story in 1914 but it wouldn’t be published in 1925, just a year after his death.

The Dispossessed

written by Ursula K. Le Guin
Published in 1974
341 pages

Shevek is a physicist living in an age of anarchists, isolation, and deep hatred. Not caring to stand around and watch civilization crumble further, he shuts out everyone from his life as he attempts to find answers to some of the toughest questions in this dystopian world. His quest for the truth will find a dangerous and eye-opening journey to the distant utopian planet of Urras to better understand life and find a means of changing it for the better. This is the sixth entry in the Hainish Cycle book series.


written by Ayn Rand
Published in 1938
105 pages

Before the controversial philosophies of Ayn Rand took root in her better-known novels of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the genesis of her fearful visions of the future came from her classic novella, Anthem. It tells the story of a world where individuality has become a lost concept that nobody has a name, designated one of categorization. One of these people is Equality 7-2521, residing in a world where all decisions are processed by groups and collectives that live without singular thoughts. But it isn’t long before Equality 7-2521 finds out what individuality is and the brilliance of what it can achieve. He may not live long to tell of this discovery as he may be marked for death, considering how he would taint a false utopia.

Children of Men

written by P. D. James
Published in 1992
241 pages

Children of Men takes place in a future devoid of children. No babies have been born within the last generation as infertility reaches extinction levels. As a result, faith is lost in the future and governments begin to crumble in this dark future. Theodore Faron is a historian who seems very much disinterested in the world dying as he doesn’t find much hope in anything. All of that changes, however, when he joins up with a band of revolutionaries who have made a discovery that could change mankind’s outlook. To ensure that humanity has a future, Faron finds himself trying to protect something precious and given a reason to fight for a better tomorrow. Children of Men would later be adapted into a film in 2006, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The Mandibles

written by Lionel Shriver
Published in 2016
416 pages

The future of 2029 is a much different world in The Mandibles. America has fallen as an empire with world forces all colliding to collect on loans, forcing American currency to become worthless. One family, the Mandibles, find that their lives will be turned upside down by this event, as they can no longer rely on their wealth to carry them. The family members of authors and professors find themselves struggling to deal with the fact their vision of the American dream has died and that civilization in their country will take an uncertain route. Shriver’s writing is an unflinching look at how a society can crumble and contemplate on what he holds of true value when the chips are down.

In the Country of Last Things

written by Paul Auster
Published in 1987
188 pages

Anna Blume documents her travels in a hopeless world. She ventures into a city that has had its industry collapse and forced the populace into a state of desperation. This hopeless city finds the residents scrounging for any object they can sell and any food they can eat. The governments show no empathy, merely using what little power they have to scoop up the dead and use them for fuel. Why would Anna travel to such a location? She’s looking for her lost brother William. But as the novel suggests, nowhere is safe in this decayed and chilling vision of a dystopian future may bring.

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