The Eyre Affair
Any book can be used as a weapon in this alternate-history 1985, when brilliant criminal Hades uses the Prose Portal to jump between literary works, change the endings in every single copy, and trap other people in fictional worlds. Literary detective Thursday Next must hop from book to book chasing Hades and deciding which changes are worth keeping.
The Handmaid's Tale
One of the best aspects of Atwood’s landmark dystopian novel is how one of the most daring acts of subversion that handmaid Offred can commit is playing Scrabble with the Commander. Reading is just one of many signs of independence that have been stripped from women; peeking at something as harmless as a magazine is flirting with danger, while a book means death.
The Invisible Library
As a professional spy for the Library, Irene must go undercover in alternate-reality London to steal a copy of “Midnight Requiems,” the first published work from necromancer Balan Pestifer: “by all accounts a fascinating, deeply informative, and highly unread piece of writing.” Problem is, someone has already gotten their hands on the necromancer’s debut, and are likely planning to read and enact its most sinister passages.
Brave New World
A seemingly utopian future that conditions its people to be materialistic and hedonistic necessarily shuffles them away from any sort of literature that would cause them to develop individualistic ideals. Of course, both World Controller Mustapha Mond and the “Savage” John both get their hands on banned books—equally dangerous scenarios.
In addition to monitoring households through two-way screens and matching adolescents in arranged marriages, the government in Matched has also streamlined reading material in this dystopian future: Citizens are allowed to read only the Hundred Poems and Hundred Stories. But when Cassia spots two forbidden poems on a piece of paper her grandfather gives her, she memorizes them before destroying the evidence.
We’re not talking banned books—this is a list of novels that within them contain dangerous texts. In many of the dystopian entries, reading has been subtly or overtly beaten out of future generations, yet all it takes is one stolen book or stolen glimpse at a magazine to bring back the hunger for reading. Or we’re talking ancient tomes full of forbidden magic and the keys to conjuring something much worse than a fun read. Peruse at your own risk…
What are your favorite stories about dangerous books?
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Bookshelf curated by Natalie Zutter.
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