The most recommended George Orwell books

Who picked these books? Meet our 103 experts.

103 authors created a book list connected to George Orwell, and here are their favorite George Orwell books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of George Orwell book?


Book cover of We

Nina Munteanu Author Of Darwin's Paradox

From Nina's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Ecologist Mother Teacher Explorer

Nina's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Nina Munteanu Why did Nina love this book?

While the story centres on logical D-503, a man vacuously content as a number in the One State, it is I-330—Zamyatin’s unruly heroine—who stole my attention.

Confident, powerful, and heroic, the liberated I-330 embraces the Green Wind of change to influence D-503. A force of hope and resilience, she braves torture to successfully orchestrate a revolution that breaches the Green Wall—feats typically relegated to a male protagonist in novels of that era.

When pregnant O-90 refuses to surrender her child to the State, I-330 helps her escape to the outside, where the Green Wind of freedom blows. I resonated with Zamyatin’s cautionary tale on the folly of logic without love and Nature.

By Yevgeny Zamyatin, Gregory Zilboorg (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A seminal work of dystopian fiction that foreshadowed the worst excesses of Soviet Russia, Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is a powerfully inventive vision that has influenced writers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Russian with an introduction by Clarence Brown.

In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful 'Benefactor', the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity - until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. Set in the twenty-sixth century AD,…

Book cover of Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

David David Katzman Author Of A Greater Monster

From my list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be.

Who am I?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 

David's book list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be

David David Katzman Why did David love this book?

First published in 1959, Naked Lunch was shocking then, and it still retains its power today. Both in content and structure, Naked Lunch is powerful and wholly original.  In effect, it becomes more than a work of fiction, it becomes an experience. Burroughs invented a technique called the “cut-up method,” where he cut up his coherent storyline into paragraphs, scenes, and even sentences, then reordered them both randomly and editorially. The disorder thematically represents the chaos of existence and the universe, and it also disrupts the reader. Like the book or not, it shakes you into realizing that there are possibilities beyond the conventional.

Burrough’s language is honed to a razor’s edge, and I find that many of the sentences in Naked Lunch burn like fire. The meaning of the title as Burroughs explains it is to bare the naked truth of reality on the end of a fork. From…

By William S. Burroughs Jr., James Grauerholz, Barry Miles

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Naked Lunch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.

Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

Book cover of 1Q84

Daryl Qilin Yam Author Of Lovelier, Lonelier

From my list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers.

Who am I?

I’m one of those writers who’d identify themselves as readers first, and as an oft-bullied queer kid growing up in Singapore, I often found refuge and salvation in writers whose works were able to refashion and reimagine our lives, however intimately or grandly. I grew up devouring fantasy of all kinds; I went from Enid Blyton to Charmed, for instance, before discovering in my later adolescence the manifold possibilities of magical realism and the other expanses contained within the realm(s) of speculative fiction. Many of the books in this particular list were especially useful in crafting my second novel, Lovelier, Lonelier

Daryl's book list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers

Daryl Qilin Yam Why did Daryl love this book?

Here’s another book with two lovers occupying two parallel realities, though I would say that the romance is almost beside the point in this book, where a multitude of stranger, more engrossing things are always threatening to steal the spotlight: Cults! A town of cats! The return of Ushikawa! Two moons! A novel named Air Chrysalis! You couldn’t ask for more, really.

By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip ­Gabriel (translator)

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked 1Q84 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her.

She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course…

Book cover of Feed

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From my list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Who am I?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Mal Warwick Why did Mal love this book?

I’m troubled by the way young people today seem to live their lives glued to smartphone and computer screens.

M. T. Anderson gives us a hint of what this might lead to in Feed. It’s one of the scariest books I've read in many years. The six teenagers partying in this novel live in a world of constant distractions. Fashions may change by the hour.

A powerful future version of Virtual Reality allows them to experience novelty and excitement at any time without special equipment—and without pausing for reflection.

And that’s how they live, closed off from life in the real world. As I said, scary.

By M.T. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Feed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains. Winner of the LA Times Book Prize.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play around with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a…

Book cover of The Stuff To Give The Troops

Paul Willetts Author Of Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms: The Spyhunter, the Fashion Designer & the Man From Moscow

From Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer World War II obsessive

Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Paul Willetts Why did Paul love this book?

I re-read this in the wake of writing an introduction and afterword to a forthcoming edition of Julian Maclaren-Ross’s humorous yet melancholy Memoirs of the Forties, which could be described as a 1940s Withnail & I.

First published in 1944, The Stuff To Give The Troops collects his often very brief short stories about his far-from-heroic experiences as a conscript in the British army during World War II. They’re written in a conversational style that still feels fresh and modern. So too does their jaundiced tone, which prefigures M*A*S*H and Catch-22.

You can see why these stories quickly established him as a rising star whose admirers included George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene.

Book cover of Animal Farm

Jonathan R.P. Taylor Author Of Soviet Propaganda & The Classroom

From Jonathan's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Plant-based Animal lover Singer-songwriter Novelist Digital nomad

Jonathan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Jonathan R.P. Taylor Why did Jonathan love this book?

I return to this book again and again – and I do so as a Socialist. It is storytelling at its very best; the analogy of the farm animal's revolt is brilliance. If ever a book predicted the reality of history and humanity through their failings, it is Animal Farm.

You immediately bond with the animals and their struggles, but the insidious nature of the pig's totalitarian regime as later created, soon returns the reader to reality. One is left to understand that Karl Marx hit the nail on the head; Socialism cannot exist without being born of a democracy. A fact that the Soviets, through the crimes of its Red Terror, missed.

Orwell has always been presented as anti-communist, but in reality, he was anything but, he was a realist, a pragmatist, and an anti-totalitarian who fought in the Spanish Civil War.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Animal Farm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The perfect edition for any Orwell enthusiasts' collection, discover Orwell's classic dystopian masterpiece beautifully reimagined by renowned street artist Shepard Fairey

'All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.'

Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the…

Book cover of Welcome to the Monkey House

Maura Stone Author Of Five-Star Fleecing

From my list on that make you feel great that you got the innuendos.

Who am I?

I grew up in the lap of Borscht Belt comedy in an entertainment family, the dour child with a precocious predilection for reading archaic literature. My parents gave me a subscription to Punch Magazine and subjected me to countless comedy movies during my formative years strapped to a chair à la Clockwork Orange. Which explains how I ended up an international banker. Until late in life with the publication of my first novel, a satire. After eight successive novels, I realized that I should have listened to the family’s adage, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.”

Maura's book list on that make you feel great that you got the innuendos

Maura Stone Why did Maura love this book?

This compilation of short stories influenced my writing as I read this while a teenager. Outlandish and funny, Kurt Vonnegut created a universe and characters that brought science fiction comedy to the mainstream. He literally knocked the socks off of establishment literature. In addition, he has been more than prophetic of today’s global foray into absurdity in one particular story, "Harrison Bergeron," which I would put on par with George Orwell’s 1984.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Welcome to the Monkey House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer...a zany but moral mad scientist' Time

A diabolical government asserts control by eliminating orgasms. A scientist discovers the secret to unlocking instant happiness, with unexpected consequences. In an America where everyone is equal every which way, a tennage boy plans to overthrow the system.

Welcome to the Monkey House gathers together twenty-five of Kurt Vonnegut's short stories from the 1950s and 1960s. Shot through with Vonnegut's singular humour, wit and bewilderment…

Book cover of George Orwell: A Life

Robert Colls Author Of George Orwell: English Rebel

From my list on George Orwell.

Who am I?

I was first introduced to George Orwell on 30 October 1969 when I bought the Penguin Road to Wigan Pier at Sussex University bookshop. The light blue sticker on the inside verifies time and place. The price shows that I was willing to fork out as much as 4 shillings, (or two days worth of cigarettes) for one of the most enduring friendships of my life.

Robert's book list on George Orwell

Robert Colls Why did Robert love this book?

Although he instructed that no one should write his biography, Orwell has had many superb biographers including Taylor (2003) and Bowker (2003), and his close friends Richard Rees, Fugitive from the Camp of Victory (1961), and George Woodcock, The Crystal Spirit (1966).  John Rodden has written widely on Orwell’s reputation. However, the best full-scale biography remains the first, by Bernard Crick. Sonia commissioned it, then rejected it, but I like it because Crick knows more about politics than the others and, in the end, Orwell was a political writer.

By Bernard Crick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked George Orwell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The authoritative biography of George Orwell, written with the cooperation of Orwell's widow.

'In its thoroughness, and its mastery of a considerable volume of material, this is the definitive biography of Orwell.' Sunday Times

'It is hardly worth using up space to declare just how good it is. Different readers will come away from its seventeen pungent and packed chapters with diverse memories of its excellence.' Guardian

Book cover of Politics and the English Language

Ben Hutchinson Author Of On Purpose: Ten Lessons on the Meaning of Life

From my list on essays to help us think for ourselves.

Who am I?

As an essayist, literary critic, and professor of literature, books are what John Milton calls my ‘pretious life-blood.’ As a writer, teacher, and editor, I spend my days trying to make meaning out of reading. This is the idea behind my most recent book, On Purpose: it’s easy to make vague claims about the edifying powers of ‘great writing,’ but what does this actually mean? How can literature help us live? My five recommendations all help us reflect on the power of books to help us think for ourselves, as I hope do my own books, including The Midlife Mind (2020) and Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2018).

Ben's book list on essays to help us think for ourselves

Ben Hutchinson Why did Ben love this book?

What I like about Orwell is that he is uncompromising. His fiction, such as Animal Farm and 1984, is very well known, but some of his essays have been just as influential.

This is probably the most important one, in which Orwell makes a case for clarity and concision as the guiding principles of communication. Language is both cause and effect of meaning: it "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts."

Good writing, Orwell suggests, helps us retain freshness of thought; bad writing, conversely, deadens our sensibilities. Linguistic precision, in other words, is "not the exclusive concern of professional writers." We should all be concerned by cliché.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Politics and the English Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Politics and the English Language' is widely considered Orwell's most important essay on style. Style, for Orwell, was never simply a question of aesthetics; it was always inextricably linked to politics and to truth.'All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.'Language is a political issue, and slovenly use of language and cliches make it easier for those in power to deliberately use misleading language to hide unpleasant political facts. Bad English, he believed, was a vehicle for oppressive ideology, and it is…

Book cover of Shooting An Elephant

Christopher Lyke Author Of The Chicago East India Company

From my list on being changed by war.

Who am I?

It’s kind of depressing that I’m so fascinated with these big “God and death and war” themes that are always banging around in my head. I think it’s because I like the gravity of even the smallest decisions in heightened crisis situations. It makes things so prominent and visceral. This gravity also makes the beauty in these moments of crisis more beautiful and love that much stronger. Ultimately, I’ve spent the last thirteen years trying to square with my time overseas and chase some version of that heightened meaning in civilian life. The contrast between being a school teacher and soldier really makes all of that clear. 

Christopher's book list on being changed by war

Christopher Lyke Why did Christopher love this book?

Orwell captures the dilemma of empire so well that every time I read it, my nerves get raw. It’s a trap. Everyone is dehumanized, the oppressors and the oppressed. The sneering townspeople, the trips on the football pitch, the clear-sighted way the crowd intuits the relationship between themselves and the young policeman all ring true. The villagers can control him because they understand the expectations he has as an official of the crown. They use his strength against him to get what they want. He doesn’t want to kill the elephant, but it’s expected of him, so he gruesomely shoots into the elephant's mouth till, like the British empire, it finally dies. The villagers pillage the carcass for meat. For Orwell, empire itself is brutal suicide. 

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shooting An Elephant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shooting an Elephant' is Orwell's searing and painfully honest account of his experience as a police officer in imperial Burma; killing an escaped elephant in front of a crowd 'solely to avoid looking a fool'. The other masterly essays in this collection include classics such as 'My Country Right or Left', 'How the Poor Die' and 'Such, Such were the Joys', his memoir of the horrors of public school, as well as discussions of Shakespeare, sleeping rough, boys' weeklies and a spirited defence of English cooking. Opinionated, uncompromising, provocative and hugely entertaining, all show Orwell's unique ability to get to…