Tag Archives: George Orwell

Book Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell (4/5)

22 Dec

Surprisingly, it came up a lot between my husband and I that I’ve never read Animal Farm. It’s such a short little story that he finally convinced me to check out the audio so I wouldn’t be an embarrassment anymore. Well, now I’m proud to say I’m not embarrassing and I enjoyed it a bit as well.

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

Summary from Goodreads:

Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union.

So I more-or-less knew what this book would be about and how the plot would unroll. I spent the entire story trying to remember as much as I could from my Cold War history class and my economic theory classes to get all of the references to Stalinism and I think I picked up on most of it. It would have been nice to read this with a teacher who could point out the things I was missing because to be honest, I probably missed a lot.

I liked reducing political figures and communist citizens to animals. It made it funny to think of pigs on their hind legs and the friendships between donkeys and horses. Besides the pigs, I struggled to find a single person represented by the other animals. I saw them as the different people living under Stalinism. There was Boxer who was the ideal citizen until his death and Benjamin who is never inspired to take part in the farm. It showed a good variety of how people would react to the change in the economic system.

Boxer was my favorite character. He was likable and agreeable and I thought his story was the most interesting. He believed so hard in something, never questioning the direction he’s given or the people in charge, and it completely screws him over in the end. Appropriate, huh? I think there’s a character like him in every story involving the government. There have to be those that follow blindly and buy in 100% for any leadership to work.

I didn’t relate to any of the characters, but I don’t think I was supposed to. The characters are caricatures of people living under Stalinism and not real people with a journey. As far as I could tell, only Napoleon and Snowball were based on real people, neither of whom I wanted to relate to on any level. The only part of the novel when I sympathized with the characters was when they were sick of Mr. Jones. I think we’ve all felt at some time or another that a teacher or boss or other authority figure had no idea what he or she was doing and that we could run the thing better ourselves. The difference is, we never did it.

George Orwell Image via Wikipedia

George Orwell
Image via Wikipedia

I loved how the pigs kept changing the Seven Commandments to fit what they wanted. I thought that was very telling of what it was like to live under Stalinism. Even the creators didn’t want to live like that full time, they wanted to be part of a superior class and tried to change the rules without letting any know they were changing the rules. This always made me laugh.

I thought the symbol of the windmill was overused. I just looked up on SparkNotes what it’s supposed to represent and I understand why it’s important, but I still think it was too much in the book. Especially the collapse and rebuild parts. I could have done without it falling down and still gotten a lot of the story.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Ralph Cosham. I have mixed feelings about him as a narrator. I felt he was a bit dull at times and didn’t put a lot of emotion into his reading, but at other times I loved him. He did great at singing ‘Beasts of England’ and I liked how he did the sheep. But for much of the story, it felt flat.

I’m not sure what I can say about the themes of this book that hasn’t been said already. It does a good job of showing how flawed Stalinism is and how even those who created the system can’t abide by it for the long-term. Using animals and a farm makes it more like a children’s story and it seems like a kid could understand where the flaws are in the pig’s logic and see the hypocrisy in their actions. It’s a good tool to illustrate the system though so much being hidden in every word makes it exhausting to read.

Writer’s Takeaway: The long introduction in my copy talked about how Orwell saw this story as a fairy tale.  He wanted to use that medium to say something very serious about the Russian government. Often, I find that books for children have more complex messages than those for adults. I liked that he couched his message in this book. You don’t need a complicated plot to say something profound and Orwell did that well in a short piece. Brevity should be valued.

A good, fast read though I would have liked it better with some more historical background. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
Animal Farm ~ George Orwell | North Winds Journey

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WWW Wednesday, 9-December-2015

9 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Station ElevenCurrently reading:  Hit 85% in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I got another renewal out of it so I hope to keep pushing through and finish it by the end of the year.
Nothing with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I want to be back into this by the end of the year and maybe wrap it up early 2016.
So excited to tell you all I started Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel! It’s as great as you all promised it would be and I’m excited to finish this one up quickly because it’s hard to put down.
I just started listening to A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I got this audiobook for free back when the Ford Audiobook club still existed. I’m excited to get into it because I’ve seen so many good reviews.

IMG_2549 Recently finished: Three! I finished three! I used my half day on Friday to finish Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Immediately after, I did the folding and finished that up on Saturday. Doesn’t it look awesome?
It was a nail biter, but I finished All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on Sunday driving back from my writers group meeting. I had a paper copy on hold at the library just in case. Phew!
On Monday, I finished up the end of Animal Farm by George Orwell. I didn’t realize I was so close to the end so it was a nice surprise!

Another two book reviews up. This should keep steady now that NaNoWriMo is over. The first is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank which I finished before NaNo. I really enjoyed reading (listening) to this book after having seen the play twice. 4 stars.
The second is Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. I wrote this review late and I didn’t finish it up until after my book club met! I’ll have to write up that reflection this week and you should see it next week. 5 stars.

WatchmanReading Next: I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself. I only have One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez on my bedside table though I have an idea what my first book of 2016 will be. There’s a lot of overlap in my book clubs early in the year because of library sponsored author appearances so I’ll have time to read at least one of my choosing. Yay!
I saw that I’m next in line for the eAudio of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee! Eeeeek, so excited!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 2-December-2015

2 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


SenseCurrently reading:  Still hovering at 80% in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Thanksgiving didn’t give me a lot of eBook time.
Nothing with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (still).
I made a lot of progress with Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I’ve started to care about the characters a lot more and I’m hoping to finish this weekend. It’s hard for me to read a lot of this in one sitting so I read a little bit as often as I can.
Still on pause with Animal Farm by George Orwell.
I’m worried I might not finish All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr before I have to return it. I’ve got it for a few days still, but I’m not yet 75% of the way through! I’ll have to tighten down on listening to it while I do my stretches and cook. I hope that will be enough!

Recently finished: I can’t remember the last time I reported nothing finished for two weeks in a row. This is such a downer.

100 yearsReading Next: Still not change. I’m really excited to start Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel after all the wonderful things I’ve been hearing about it. You guys are getting me to finish Austen as fast as possible!
I hope to be in the middle of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Christmas. I think that would give me enough time to finish it before my book club meets to talk about it.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-November-2015

25 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


MalalaCurrently reading:  I hit 80% in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I find the parts with Luisa more interesting so I’m glad to be back to that.
Nothing with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.
I’m still working through Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I’m about 25% of the way in so doing well enough. I hope to finish it this month, but that might not happen.
Nothing with Animal Farm by George Orwell. Another book on standby.
I’m really enjoying All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s a great story and the audio on this one is incredible.

Recently finished: None this week! Too much NaNo time, not enough reading time!

Station ElevenReading Next: No change here, either. Next is Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven which is tempting me on the side of my bed, waiting for me.
The other is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Again, sitting there and trying to push me through S&S every day.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-November-2015

18 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


All The LightCurrently reading:  I’m still trucking through Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell during lunch. I’m actually making decent progress now that it’s back to the characters I’m interested in. I can’t find the connection between future Korea and the old British guy in the nursing home yet. I’m hoping that one becomes clearer soon.
Nothing with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. If everything goes well, maybe by the end of the year.
I’m picked up again with Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. It’s still early on and I’m reminded what frustrates me about writing from that era, but I’m trying to look past it!
About half-way through Animal Farm by George Orwell. This will have to wait a while before I get into it heavily again because of my new audiobook.
I got All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on audiobook. I wasn’t expecting it to come in so soon, but I’m excited it did! I only get this for three weeks so I’ll have to work at getting through this chunkster before my hold expires.

AnneFrankRecently finished: Two this week. The first is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It ends so abruptly that I wasn’t ready for it and thought I was starting a new disk on my way home. The final disk was a series of afterward and essays. I really liked those because it gave good context to the story. I rated it 5/5 Stars.
Saturday morning I finished Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. He’s a wonderful writer and I’m so glad I read this. I’ve read his two mos popular books now and his other ones seem to be significantly less popular so I’m not sure I’ll get to that any time soon.

One review this past week, for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I’ll have a book club discussion for this in December so look forward to that as well.

100 yearsReading Next: I’m still planning on Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven after I finish S&S. It’s come so highly recommended by you all that I’m itching to pick it up.
I have another book club book waiting for me by my bedside, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This is a book I recommended to the group so I hope I enjoy it and I hope others do, too. If not, I’ll have a lot to answer for, haha.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-November-2015

11 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Animal FarmCurrently reading:  I’ve had the chance to read a little bit of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell during lunch once or twice this week. It’s keeping me moving forward, but I’m still not engrossed enough to power through to the end. Hopefully, that will come soon.
Nothing with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.
I’ve decided ‘engrossing’ is a good word for how I feel about The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. She’s such a talented writer and I’m always itching to listen to more.
Nothing with Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen but it looks so tempting on my bedside!
I hope to finish Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner very soon. I’m completely engrossed in the characters, but my finals this weekend are taking up a lot of time! I’d love to say I’ll have more time after that, but then I’m doing the second half of NaNo. I can’t wait for December when my world calms down!
I’m slowly getting into Animal Farm by George Orwell. I was stuck on the introduction for a long time and the story is just starting to pick up.

Recently finished: I’m so sad to say I didn’t finish anything this week! I’m ashamed now, but I’m hoping this number goes up a lot when school is over!

On the bright side, I did post one book review this week. Please go and check out my review of Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses which I gave 3 Stars.

Station ElevenReading Next: My book club met on Monday and we’ve got our next book. I’ll be reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and I’m really excited about it! Station Eleven was chosen as the Great Michigan Read for 2015-2016 so there will be a lot of discussions and events focused on this book. Get ready for a flood of posts on it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-November-2015

4 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Crossing to SafetyCurrently reading:  Fewer doctors appointments so fewer chances to read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Take the good with the bad, I guess.
No progress with  I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai still.
It feels weird to say I’m enjoying The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, but I’m very impressed with it. Anne’s diary is so eloquent and full of great details, two things mine never were.
No progress with Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. It keeps tempting me on the bedside table.
I’m loving Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. He’s a beautiful writer and this is a ‘stay in bed’ book for me. I can’t wait to get back to it.
It turns out what I thought was an audiobook of Slaughterhouse Five was an ebook and I’m not starting one of those right now. So instead I picked up Animal Farm by George Orwell. My husband has recommended this for a long time so I’m looking forward to it.

451Recently finished: I finished off Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury early this week. I’m glad I didn’t remember a lot of the story because the whole thing surprised me and it was fun to keep reading it.

Only one book review this week for Made in America by Bill Bryson. Thank you to those who commented on this saying his other books are quite different. That’s very reassuring to me!

Reading Next: Honestly, I don’t have plans for anything right now! I have two ebooks, two physical books, and I just started an audiobook so I’m actually not thinking ahead right now. This is kind of refreshing.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!