Kate Wickers: Nineteen Eighty-Four

Kate Wickers has been a travel writer for over twenty years, regularly contributing to The Telegraph and The Scotsman newspapers, among many others. Her debut travel memoir, Shape of a Boy, My Family & Other Adventures was published in 2022, and was listed by National Geographic Traveller and The Independent in ‘The Best Travel Books for 2022’.

For my book of the month, I’m going back to a modern classic – Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – first published in 1949 as a warning against totalitarianism and still as starkly relevant seventy-four years on. I first read it as a teenager in the 1980s as part of the ‘O’ level English Literature curriculum and I remember that I inhaled the prose from front cover to back in a day (and then again and again), totally mesmerised by Orwell’s disturbing yet compelling vision of a dystopian society. Oh, that all-seeing Big Brother, what a chilling presence he was and is, remaining a symbol for every oppressive, intrusive government and organisation throughout the world. No surprise that the book was banned in the Soviet Union until 1988. I read it again quite recently, and, now older, found that the love affair between Smith and Julia and its consequences (no plot spoilers!), more brutally heart breaking than ever. And now living in a world where spin-doctoring is the norm and it is ever-increasingly difficult to get to the truth, Smith’s job as a creator of fake news in rewriting history for The Ministry of Truth really hit home. This is a book that will never grow old.

Thank you, Kate, for choosing this book!

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