Best books by George Orwell

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    Find out more about famous cautionary author George Orwell, including which are his most popular books.

    Many of today’s dystopian novels follow what’s known as an Orwellian plot. That’s due to the nature of the prophetic, cautionary work of George Orwell. Whether writing fiction novels, recounting his experiences or reporting as a journalist, Orwell never minced words talking about misguided regimes.

    If you want something different to read, the author’s best books are available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

    George Orwell’s biography
    George Orwell is the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair, born in India on June 25, 1903. The English novelist, essayist, and critic is responsible for numerous prophetic, anti-utopian novels. Orwell wrote about totalitarian governments and complex topics throughout his career.

    Interestingly, few people knew his real last name. And the author eventually changed it legally to his nom de plume once he became a political, literary rebel in the eyes of the British establishment.

    Orwell’s upbringing and childhood is best described as impoverished snobbery. He attended a prep boarding school where he never fit in. The combination of brilliance and poverty made him the target of bullies.

    As a result, the future author grew up as an eccentric and withdrawn kid. But his academic inclination earned him two scholarships, including one at Eton.

    After a brief stint as a colonial police officer, Orwell became a prolific writer and activist. He spent time in Parisian slums and lodging houses and lived like a vagrant. But he didn’t do it without reason.

    Orwell drew on his experiences to write. During World War II, Orwell served at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) before becoming a literary editor and journalist, and continuing his writing career.

    Despite reporting on the war, Orwell picked up arms for the first time while in Barcelona, Spain during the Spanish Civil War between the republicans and nationalists.

    For the most part, Orwell remains a somewhat enigmatic figure. More insight into his life is available in the Orwell: The Life biographical book by D. J. Taylor.

    Best George Orwell books
    Animal Farm
    Fervent socialist, George Orwell, published Animal Farm in 1945. The book is an allegory of Stalinism and similar totalitarian systems. His particular distrust of the Soviet Union’s practices is clear in the text, despite the very different writing style.

    The book follows two pigs with revolutionary ideas that lead a revolution for all animals against humans. But it doesn’t take long until Napolean, one pig with a thirst for power, creates a totalitarian regime. The book is mostly inspired by the Russian revolution.

    Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
    1984 is the book that defined terms like “Orwellian,” “Doublethink,” “Newspeak” and “Big Brother”. The author depicts a fictional dystopian society in the new feature. He presents a world where Big Brother watches and records everything, and totalitarian propaganda puts an end to freedom of speech, language, and feelings.

    Orwell wrote the book that follows main character Winston Smith and his love interest, Julia, while in Jura, a Scottish Island.

    Down and Out in Paris and London
    One of Orwell’s most memorable books, Down and Out in Paris and London, discusses the poverty found in two affluent cities, Paris and London. This is the first book from the author considered a full length work.

    Homage to Catalonia
    Published in 1938, Homage to Catalonia draws from Orwell’s experience in the Spanish Civil War. The author served for British newspapers in 1936 and eventually took arms against the Fascist Franco regime. It’s a riveting account of real-world struggles and the dangers of misguided government policies and lust for power.

    Keep the Aspidistra Flying
    This book follows Gordon Cosmstock during the Interwar Period. The hero fights against the capitalist nature of British society and goes as far as to not accept the value of money.

    The hero’s outcast nature and economic exploitation of weak or poor society groups is a thrilling read for anyone who distrusts the dominant system. Likewise, character development can help people answer many existential issues and questions about morality.

    The Clergyman’s Daughter
    Orwell wrote the story of Dorothy Mare, a clergyman’s daughter struck by amnesia. The author emphatically criticizes various institutions through the struggles of the main protagonist. Orwell spends a good part of the book contemplating the purposes of charity and religion.

    Coming up for Air
    Orwell’s Coming up for Air is a novel published before World War II. It follows a middle-aged man returning to his boyhood town and dealing with how it changed. In true Orwellian fashion, the author introduces capitalism and similar political themes as they pertain to semi-rural Britain at the time.

    Burmese Days
    Orwell served as an Indian imperial police office in Burma. The period left a deep mental and emotional scar on the author and inspired the novel Burmese Days.

    The entire book is a complex satire on British imperialism and its impact on East Asia, particularly the Indian civil service and Burmese culture.

    The Road to Wigan Pier
    This novel chronicles the author’s personal experiences while slumming with the working class people of Lancashire and Yorkshire in Northern England before World War II. The second half of the book contrasts the author’s upbringing.

    Other Notable Works
    You may also want to consider other Orwell works, now available at the Orwell Foundation, including the following.

    Shooting an Elephant – An essay written in 1936

    A Hanging – An essay published in 1931

    Why I Write – An essay published in 1946

    Such, Such were the Joys – An essay published in 1952

    The Lion and the Unicorn – An essay published in 1941

    Listen to select George Orwell titles on Speechify Audiobooks
    George Orwell’s literary legacy is arguably more important than ever, given the recent global hardships and societal divisiveness. The author’s warnings and red flags ring as true today as they did in the 20th century. And if you’re ready to go over his works, the Speechify Audiobook service is a great place to start.

    The extensive library has some of the author’s most pivotal literary masterpieces. You can find his fiction and non-fiction books in audiobook format and listen to them on almost any device at your desired playback speed.

    Try Speechify, create an account, and get your first premium classic title for free. If you make it an Orwellian audiobook, you can give yourself a thrilling experience.

    FAQ

    What did George Orwell suffer from?

    George Orwell spent time in London, England being treated for tuberculosis. Unfortunately, the disease killed him after a grueling battle.

    What is Orwell’s main message?

    George Orwell always drew attention to the excesses of official power and totalitarian regimes masquerading as socialist states.

    What were George Orwell’s political views?

    George Orwell defined himself as a proponent of left-wing democratic socialism who believed in active government and opposed fascism and similar regimes.

    Why is George Orwell important?

    Orwell’s importance comes from his work on social and political criticism and the inequality present in totalitarian, fascist, and communist regimes. The combination of fiction writing, polemical journalism, and lucid prose helped the author draw crucial conclusions and warn future generations in ways any reader can understand.

    What is George Orwell’s famous book?

    1984 is arguably the author’s most famous book. It introduced many disturbing topics and painted a grim picture of the future. It helped define the term Orwellian and the dystopian literary genre and highlighted the many lower-upper-middle class societal differences created by thought police.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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