It’s dark times, fellow geeks. You know it, I know it, let’s face it, we all know it. There are lots of different, and valid, ways to manage this darkness. Maybe you volunteer, or donate to causes that you care about. You can play a game, ride your bike, pet kittens. Drink heavily, and eat all the cake. The point is, you have options. Me? I like to lean in to the darkness. It helps me find the light. The following is my list of books and movies that I turn to, the stories that inspire and guide me. They are stories of perseverance, stories of war and revolution. You know, your classic tales of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. And don’t worry, if fluffy escapism, or riotous laughter is more your thing, we have plenty of suggestions for that route too.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Anyone who has known me for any amount of time knows that Margaret Atwood’s
The Handmaid’s Tale is my hands down favorite book of all time. To explain why would likely be a huge post all on its own, so here’s the short version. While a lot of people find this book to be unendingly bleak, Offred’s story of stubborn survival never fails to uplift me. I often say “The Handmaid’s Tale is not an instruction manual.”, but as we move forward into uncertain, scary times, I think it can be. For us. Offred may look like a woman keeping her head down and just trying to get through, but she does more than that. She remembers who she is, and survives to tell her story. Sometimes, that’s enough.
The Hunger Games Trilogy
Suzanne Collins’ absolutely brilliant dystopian nightmare is something I reread (and rewatch) all the time for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, I just need a good, full on, ugly cry. Sometimes, I want to watch Katniss Everdeen kick some fascist ass. Sometimes, I just want to experience all over again Collins’ absolutely scathing commentary on the intersection of entertainment and war. It depends on the day. The Hunger Games doesn’t pull any punches and once you’re done reading it (maybe for the millionth time), you’ll be ready to volunteer as tribute.
World War Z
I love this book so much. The documentary journalism style. The super creepy zombies. The cross-section of survivors with stories to tell. The humor. Hell, I even geek out over the footnotes. Humanity, for all its horrific flaws and poor decisions, will find a way to survive even a never-ending horde of mindless, hungry undead. Did I mention the super nerdy footnotes?
Lord of the Rings
The original, epic fantasy saving the world with magic swords and the power of friendship story. Profound and inspiring, with glorious speeches, epic battles, plus hobbits! Hobbits are great. Hobbits with pints and a ridiculous commitment to hope, even in the face of horrific enemies and truly terrible odds. I have a particular fondness for the movies myself, but you can’t go wrong either way.
The whole series is obviously always worth reading or watching again, at any time. Let’s just be clear about that. But, in particular, books 5-7 make up one of the best primers for geeky revolutionaries of all ages. Harry, Hermione, Ron and their friends are just kids, but they don’t let that get in the way of waging a war against the Death Eaters.
V for Vendetta
V is for when you really want to embrace the darkness. Beautifully paranoid and bleak, V is also an incredible elegy to humanity’s unwillingness to wither and die in the face of fascism and nuclear holocaust. Incidentally, the film adaptation also allowed me to forgive Natalie Portman for the travesty that is Attack of the Clones. But, let’s not get into that. This is a time for geeks to band together!
What’s your fuel for fighting the good fight, fellow geeks? Share in the comments, and we’ll see you in the trenches.