Book · Reviews

5 Reasons to Read Orwell’s 1984

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By Joey Payton

The dystopian genre of books entertains us with extremely imaginative societies. Popular series-turned-movies like The Hunger Games, Maze Runner and Divergent not only wowed audiences with their engaging characters and exciting plot twists, but also served to deliver socially conscious messages through the lens of entertainment.

Before these New York Times bestsellers rose to fame, there was George Orwell’s 1984. Originally published in 1949 (in the wake of WWII), 1984 has ominously shot back to the top of best seller lists (in the wake of of November’s election).

In previous posts, the GU Book Crew took you on a journey exploring libraries, visiting bookstores, investing authors and even imagining our superheroes, but today we arrive at the doorstep of a dystopian world, which is eerily similar to the United States in 2017.

In 1984, Orwell shows, through his protagonist, Winston Smith, the common citizen’s experience in a society heavily influenced by fear, social constructs, over regulation and technology.

Here are our five reasons (not in any particular order) you must read 1984.

#1 Non-Stop War because “WAR IS PEACE”

Since the tragic 9/11 attacks on the U.S. homeland in NYC and DC, American military forces have been deployed either in direct combat operations or supporting combat operations. This parallels 1984 with the three major nations Oceania, where Smith is from, and Eastasia and Eurasia are constantly at war, with no clear sign of an end.

#2 Allies are enemies. Enemies are allies. Repeat.

During the Obama administration there was tension with our ally Israel, while there seemed to be a thawing of relationships with longtime enemy Iran, through the Iran nuclear deal. President Trump continued the relationship swap behavior, when he raised concerns due to his softened rhetoric toward Russia, although directing tough language toward both NAFTA and NATO allies. This back-and-forth and fluid shifting of allies with adversaries is commonplace in 1984.

#3 “Fake News” from the Ministry of Truth

In the U.S. the press as the fourth estate has become a challenged watchdog with the coining of the term “fake news.” There is debate whether the term is fairly used to characterize reputable media outlets, yet the truth is the media’s credibility has been sullied. In 1984, the government run ‘Ministry of Truth,’ is responsible for managing the version of “truth” that the powers-to-be want to portray. And they spend much time and effort reprinting and distributing propaganda to ensure that their version of the truth is what the public receives.

#4 Free Speech is Hate Speech

One of the benefits of being American is our First Amendment, which grants us protections for a few things, namely our speech. The concept of political correctness has developed into a social and, in some instances, legal policing of people’s stated opinions. This is the reality in Smith’s world because acts of self-expression, especially one that opposes the government, are unpardonable crimes.

#5 Telescreens (uhh…I mean smart devices) are Ubiquitous

We love our smart devices. They keep us connected to everything: people, places and ideas. They provide us with instant access to just about anything we need. Unfortunately, similar to the 1984 telescreens, which were TVs with two-way microphones and screens, our devices also give the powers-to-be access to us. Via our smart TVs, smart phones, tablets and laptops we turn on the camera and microphones of our lives for a Orwellian-style reality TV show.

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Whether you’re ready or not to attribute Nostradamus status to Orwell, it’s fair to say that his novel carries strong implications in the contemporary world.

Fortunately for us, it’s just fiction, right?

If you want more context and a detailed explanation of 1984’s implications, I recommend you read Michiko Kakutani’s NYT’s piece, “Why ‘1984’ Is a 2017 Must Read.”

Also, if you’re not much of a reader, but want to still enjoy the story, then it’s available in audio format.

Images courtesy of Blackstone Audio, Inc. and the Wisconsin Gazette
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Events · Libraries · Library · Reviews

The Library of Congress a Historical Masterpiece

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By Molly Korroch

Living in D.C., we are incredibly lucky to have one of the most amazing and thorough research libraries at our front door. The Library of Congress is equal parts museum, architectural masterpiece, and library.

Walking through the United States Library of Congress is like walking through time. Though this point may seem moot, John Adams established the library for it’s literal purpose: to house reference books for the congress. This occurred in 1800, and of course, within fifteen years, the British had come and burned the whole thing down during the War of 1812.

Soon after, then former President Thomas Jefferson donated his personal library. This collection served as the beginning of the massive—including over 158 million pieces—library we enjoy today.

The library is actually comprised of three buildings. The grandest is the aptly named Thomas Jefferson Building. The building opened to the public in 1897, and before that the collection was housed in the Capitol building.

The architecture of the building is a monument to the volumes it houses. It borrows styles from every corner of history. The intention was to create an amalgamation of the best of the best. On your visit, pay close attention and you’ll see references to famed thinkers, writers, and historical works in every nook and cranny of the building.

The main architect, Paul J. Pelz, created a building, “Perfectly suited to a young, wealthy, and imperialistic nation in its Gilded Age. The materials—marble (15 varieties), granite (400,000 cubic feet), bronze, gold, mahogany—were expensive but would last a thousand years.”

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Fast Facts

Place: The Jefferson Building of The Library of Congress

General theme: You name it, they’ve got it. Also, marble upon marble upon marble.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years

Food/Drink: Vending machines and a little coffee shop on the cellar level

Wifi: Yes and No. Check out this list to find out where Wifi is available

Events: Amazing exhibits! Remember those books Thomas Jefferson donated? You can see them! Right now there’s an exhibit on World War I and an exhibit about the history of music in baseball

Appointment necessary: Depends on what you’re researching! Here is a list that includes the hours and whether or not an appointment is necessary for all the Library of Congress reading rooms

If this place were band: Billy Joel — Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (If ever there were an architecturally overdone American amalgamation, this is it.) 

Images via Al Jazeera and The Library of Congress
Bookstore · Events · Reviews

A Little DC Without the Bougie: Politics and Pros

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If you have lived in DC long enough, you might’ve heard of Politics and Prose. With many locations in DC, and their affiliation to Busboys & Politics, its known for a great variety of books, community place, and a good hang out spot. Not only do they have the new-est books, Politics and Prose also hosts exclusive author talks and frequent events throughout the city.

Fast Facts

Place: Politics and Pros on Connecticut Ave. NW, and including all Busboys & Poets locations

General theme: “Something that evokes Washington, but not pretentious” – owner Carla Cohen

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Food/Drink: Busboys & Poets has a full menu and bar. Politics and Pros location on Connecticut has a coffee shop on the lower level. 

Wifi: Busboys & Poets does!

Events: A full list of calendar events can be seen here, with info on Busboys & Poets too! 

Appointment necessary: Nope! 

If this place were band: John Lennon – Imagine 

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Bookstore · Events

A Night With Auntie Maxine

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters, or also known as Auntie Maxine, held an open-mic reception at Busboys and Poets on 5th and K St. just last Friday in anticipation of the Tax Day March. This reception was an invitation to “young writers, bloggers and all millennials who have profiled her opposition to President Trump and leading conversations on Twitter regarding what’s at stake under his administration” according to BusBoys & Poets.

GU Book Crew made a quick stop to see what the event was all about, and it did not disappoint.

For those not following Auntie Maxine, she is a leading women in the impeachment of President Trump. She has been serving as a U.S. Representative since 1991, the most senior of the 12 black women currently serving in congress, and a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

What you might see circling around the internet is her famous “We’ve got to stop his ass!”  video which took place at Busboys. Busboys and Poets is known for its safe space for community engagement and radical connections, so it’s no surprise that Auntie Maxine let it all out.

BusBoys and Poets takes pride in being a community gathering place, a place to feed your body, mind and soul, and a space where culture and politics collide. At all locations, you will find paintings from local artist and/or activists. With a full menu, full bar, and book store in every location, its a perfect spot for community engagement and fun.

Fast Facts

Place: Busboys & Poets – Locations include 5th &K, 14th & V, Shirlington, Hyattsville, Brookland, Takoma

General theme: Community, culture, art

Hours: Hours vary by location, but you can typically expect 8:00 a.m. – midnight Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m. Fridays, 9:00 a.m.-midnight on weekends.

A Brief History: Established in 2005, Anas “Andy” Shallal, an activist, artist and ‘restaurateur’, wanted to create a community gathering place. The first location on 14th & V received a welcoming embrace, especially from those opposing the Iraq War. Since then six more locations have been opened in distinct DC neighborhoods.

Food/Drink: Yes. Full menu, full bar. You can check out their menu here, which includes vegetarian, gluten free and vegan options.

Wifi: Yes.

Appointment necessary: Nope! Although, if you come with a party you should make reservations.

If this place were band: Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Bookstore

Comic Logic: NOVA’s Local Comic Store ‘Where everybody knows your name’

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By Joey Payton

If you picture the comic book guy from the Simpson’s when you think of a local comic store, then Northern Virginia’s Comic Logic Books & Artwork will reshape your paradigm of what a community comic book shop should be.

“I think a lot of people have in their minds that comic book stores are like the one in the Simpson’s with a snooty comic book guy behind the counter,” said Kristin Unger, life-long comic book enthusiast and Comic Logic associate.

But that image is far from the Comic Logic scene.

Put at ease by a nostalgic sci-fi tune (imagine the Star Trek theme song), there are familiar figurines of your childhood heroes dispersed throughout, vibrant covers lining the walls and elated faces of the Comic Logic staff assisting customers.

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Comic Logic’s Rich Gollhofer and Kristin Unger believe if you give them a chance, they can make a comic lover out of you.

A place for Nerds

“Instead of a sports bar, this is like a nerd bar,” said Rich Gollhofer, one of the shop’s co-owners and comic aficionado. “It’s a safe space for nerds.”

Gollhofer, whose love for comics began during his childhood when he would read his dad’s hand-me-down DC and Marvel comics, never saw comics as anything other than another way to consume media, he said.

“I was never taught that comics were less than books. They’re all on the same level. I think you get a bit of the best of best worlds with comics,” said Gollhofer. “You can put prose in comics, but also with the art, you have that same aspect that’s in film and television where you can tell more with a picture sometimes than with words.”

If you don’t do comics, give Gollhofer and Unger a chance and they’ll make a comic lover out of you.

“I think one of things we’ve been successful with is converting people who don’t read comics into comic book readers,” said Unger.

If you think comics are stupid, then you’ll be singing another tune once they get the epic sci-fi fantasy, Saga, into your hands.

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Local writers and artists are featured on a Comic Logic’s bookshelf.

A place for Creators

Earlier this month Comic Logic celebrated its second birthday, but it attributes its success to its customers and local creators.

“A sense of community is what we’re trying to build. It’s only through their support that we get to exist,” said Gollhofer.

Comic Logic’s loyalty to its local writers and artists is evident in the significant amount of space allocated their original artwork on the walls and shelves.

“The original art that you see on the wall is from local artists. The local writers on the shelf include a kid that’s still in high school. That’s part of the community that we are trying to build and maintain,” said Gollhofer.

This year the new shop has the distinction of being one of the sponsors for NOVA CON 2017 in Tysons Corner, Va., July 28 – 30. Even at this huge event, Comic Logic plans to include some of its local artists.

“We’re curating local creators and artists to come in and show off their wears.”

Some of the notable creators that will be featured at NOVA CON include Tyrone Selby, creator and writer of Elements of Light, and gamer and costume designer extraordinaire, Misty the “Imperial Grrrl,” so check them out.

A place for Community 

There’s something to buy and something to do for everyone at Comic Logic.

Comic Logic is a Local Comic Store that aims to be everything that a LCS can be,” said Gollhofer. “We’re looking for more like the Cheers-type ‘everybody knows your name’ when you come here.”

Whether you’re in the market for a crisp and glossy paperback or looking to socialize with friendly comic lovers, your trip to this blossoming comic store will be well-served.

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Comic Logic staff share their suggested comics for any interested and inquiring readers.

Fast Facts

Place: Comic Logic Books & Artwork in Ashburn, Va.

General theme: Comic book themed with something for kids through adults. And did you know they have a theme song called “Superior” by Burn the Ballroom?

Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (And they’re open most federal holidays, too!)

A Brief History: Co-founded & owned by NOVA comic enthusiasts in April 2015

Food/Drink: No, not usually, but if you come to ‘Drink and Draw’ nights I hear it totally makes-up for it.

Wifi: Nope, because you should be reading comics, anyway

Events: Kids drawing classes, Drink and Draw, Free Comic Book Day and NOVA CON

Appointment necessary: None needed. Everyone is welcome.

If this place were band: Wintergatan – Marble Machine
Continue reading “Comic Logic: NOVA’s Local Comic Store ‘Where everybody knows your name’”

Bookstore · Events · Reviews

5 Bookstores a Day Trip From DC

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By Molly Korroch

There is nothing so sweet as stumbling upon a fantastic independent bookstore.

While we’ve discussed several that are located in downtown D.C., sometimes you must stretch your legs to stretch your mind. If you need a weekend getaway from the city, here are five fantastic bookstores (and cities) that are only a day trip away.

Atomic Books

Baltimore, MD
3620 Falls Road

Atomic Books lives up to its quirky and modern name. Its motto is “Literary finds for mutated minds.” Thoroughly invested in the literary and local community, Atomic Books hosts a variety of events, including readings, signings, books clubs and beer nights–and that’s only the stuff that’s happening over the next couple of weeks. Fun Fact: The actor/director, John Waters, picks up his fan mail via Atomic Books. It’s true!

Riverby Books

Fredricksburg, VA
805 Caroline Street

Riverby Books is quaint and cozy. While technically this store has a D.C. location, take an afternoon to check out its Fredricksburg site. They specialize in used books, including the rarer and out-of-print titles. (Its Facebook page recently boasted a first edition of Ralph Ellison’s famed Invisible Man.) This is the perfect spot for a wander or to find something special for the book lover in your life.

Chop Suey

Richmond, VA
2913 West Cary Street

Chop Suey Books is a haven for readers and writers alike. Next door is the home of the Richmond Young Writers. (But, don’t let the word “Young” fool you. It offer classes and workshops for all ages.) Though it only began in 2002, Chop Suey has the kind of presence in the community that makes it feel like it’s been there forever. Its two story bookshop offers both new and used titles of all genres imaginable. Chop Suey also has a special relationship with many local writers and authors, and the staff are always happy to recommend what is sure to become your next favorite book.

The Annapolis Bookstore

Annapolis, MD
53 Maryland Avenue

The Annapolis Bookstore looks exactly like the children’s bookstore from You’ve Got Mail. It’s classic, simple and there’s something comforting about it. At this store there’s a focus on maritime lit and children’s books. It also sells quite a few rare books. Its events include a weekly story time with ‘Nanny K’ and conversations with noted scholars.

Daedalus Bookshop

Charlottesville, VA
123 Fourth Street NE

When you walk into Daedalus Bookshop you are immediately washed with the smell of old books. Located right off the Charlottesville’s downtown mall, Daedalus feels like your grandmother’s attic: piles upon piles upon stacks of used books. There’s literally thousands of books! Every single bit of wall space is comprised of book-stuffed shelves. It’s the perfect place for a bibliophile to wander because you’re sure to find something you love–and for a great price. The building is a bit wobbly. The stairs creak, and it’s easy to get lost, but in the most delicious of ways.

Authors · Events

A Bookstore to Remember: For and By People of Color

By Isabella Basco

On April 10, Angela Maria Spring announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund the launch of a pop-up, multicultural bookstore in the Duende District. After managing the popular Politics and Prose, Spring left her job to start Duende District.

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Kickstarter

Inspired by her roots as a daughter and granddaughter of Latin American immigrants, Spring left the popular D.C. bookstore, which is in a majority-white neighborhood, to create a space for people of color to celebrate diversity.

When Duende District Bookstore opens, Spring hopes to build purposeful partnerships with minority organizations and communities in the city.

Spring’s goal is to raise $9,000 so if you’re interested in contributing to her mission, you can donate to her campaign here.

You can donate to her campaign here and the GU Book Crew will be sure to continue covering this exciting new spot.