We are in the dreaded Lockdown Mark II here in the Melbourne City suburbs, and things could start to get a little weird with some of us finding it a challenge to endure the whole six weeks of being shut in. But what we do have is time, as all of our other activities are curtailed. With more time there is space in our days to take on more reading, and what better time than to connect (or reconnect) with those cult classics. So in between the baking, our hour-long walk in the park, or that game of scrabble, here are some of those cult classics that you could try.
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury - 1953
Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, first published in 1953. Often regarded as one of his best works, the novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed, and "firemen" burn any that are found. Made into a film in 2018, you can also stream the movie in Australia on YouTube, GooglePlay, and Binge. But we all know the book is always best.
The Call of the Wild - Jack London - 1968
Buck is a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life gets turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon in the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail-delivery dog sled team, Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime as he ultimately finds his true place in the world. We do not have an eCopy of this title, but it is available for free download from Project Gutenberg, opens a new window, which digitises classic works for everyone to view and read. It has been made into a film a number of times and you can view the 2020 movie version on Amazon Prime, after you have read the book, says your librarian.
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell - 1949
Considered a classic social sci-fi dystopian novel that continues to appeal and fascinate readers even after seventy years since release. Readers have used the novel to comment on politics across the years and in the age of Trump and Putin, it might be time to reconnect with this portrayal of the surveillance state. It has been made into an acclaimed movie with John Hurt but is not available for streaming in Australia.
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - 1985
Exploring themes of forbidden love, family, marriage, and infidelity Marquez’s cult classic continues to resonate. It has been made into a film but is not available for streaming in Australia.
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - 1932
Huxley's ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece. Far into the future, the World Controllers have created an ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing, and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Ken Kesey - 1962
Ken Kesey's hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy — a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. The award-winning film can be viewed for a fee on YouTube or GooglePlay.
Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut - 1973
Always outrageous, witty, and thought-provoking, Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions is one of his best. Taking aim at the whole of American society, this novel is part farce, part parable, part science fiction, and has some of the best laugh-out-loud comic outbursts of absurdity.
Just Kids - Patti Smith - 2010
This is an exquisitely written coming of age memoir — definitely one to be savoured while we are all in lockdown. New York comes alive as the young Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe meet and fall in love. Sprinkled with the now-famous creatives who were in Smith’s and Mapplethorpe’s circle of friends, this is definitely one for the nostalgic.
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - 1961
Yes, it is time to discover Joseph Heller’s hilarious and tragic satire on military madness and the tale of one man’s efforts to survive it. There have been many attempts to film this one, but nothing can beat the book in my mind.
On The Road - Jack Kerouac - 1957
Well, we definitely cannot go on a road trip during a pandemic, so it is only feasible to go on the classic road trip of the fifties with Jack Kerouac via an eAudiobook. Happy listening.
Jane Cowell, CEO Yarra Plenty Regional Library