Title: Coming Up for Air
Author: George Orwell
Page Count/Review Word Count: 247
Coming Up for Air might not be as well-known as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four, but it’s a firm favourite amongst serious Orwell fans and scholars, and I can see why. The book follows the story of George Bowling, a man in his mid-forties who’s described as “not a fool, but not a highbrow either”. He has a normal job and lives a normal life, but he’s facing a dilemma – he’s unsure whether to embrace the modern world or to flee from it.
Of course, this ‘modern world’ is 1939, and so it’s not exactly the same as what we’ve come to think of as modernity, but the essence of the struggle is something that we can all relate to in the days of the internet and the smartphone. Some of us are luddites, trying to resist the impending march of the computer chip; others are technologists, who leap at the chance to try out the latest gadget.
But at its essence, Coming Up for Air is also a great tale in its own right, even if you don’t bother to dig into it too deeply. That also means it’s the sort of book that can be re-read, because you see new layers every time. Sure, read Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four first, but make sure that you come back for this afterwards.