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1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale Are Getting Hardcover Reissues, so It’s Time to Start Building Your Resistance Library

What's on your oh-my-God-we're-living-in-a-dystopia bookshelf?

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The hot but also somewhat terrifying trend in book sales sees people stocking up on everything-old-is-relevant-again works like Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. Important texts that cover insidious government overreach—real and fictional—have never quite gone out of style, but have seen a massive resurgence of interest in the Age of Trump. Now two classics are receiving a hardcover makeover that will look mighty fine on your bookshelf.

Publisher’s Weekly reports on the upcoming hardcover releases of George Orwell’s 1984 (April 4th) and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (April 25th) from Houghton Mifflin. Both books will feature reimagined covers, and 1984 will sell for $19.84—a cute gimmick, but also a nice price for a hardcover.

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(the first edition of 1984 was all pulp: Forbidden love … Fear … Betrayal … Spoilers!)

While I adore my Kindle, there’s something to be said for holding a real book in hand, and something particularly poignant about these books getting a new lease on life. When the Internet is brought down and electricity parcelled out by our malevolent overlords, you’ll be glad you have a paper-bound copy to pass surreptitiously to friends. Or if catastrophe is averted, they’ll be quite fetching on a coffee table.

Orwell’s 1984, originally published in 1949, postulates an authoritarian future state that tracks its citizens’ every move and introduced the concepts of “newsspeak,” “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime” and “Big Brother.” It became a #1 bestseller again in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd debacle and Kellyanne Conway’s mind-boggling claim that the administration was using “alternative facts,” which surely had Orwell spinning in his grave.

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(can the new hardcover possibly be as unsettling as the first edition?)

Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, circa 1985, has been introduced to additional audiences through publicity around its upcoming series as well as real-life protests for women’s rights that have seized on the novel’s imagery.

While it’s somewhat scary that these books have come back in fashion, both are excellent and crucial reads, and I can’t blame the publisher for capitalizing on their rise in popularity by issuing new additions. I imagine the new covers are going to be attention-grabbing and nicely done.

What’s #1 on your how-to-understand-our-modern-day-dystopia bookshelf? I’d just like make sure that Fahrenheit 451 never becomes a reality.

(via Publisher’s Weekly, image composite via Penguin/Houghton Mifflin editions, Signet, WikiMedia Commons)

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