Some Light NSA Reading! 15 Books About Surveillance

Sales of George Orwell’s dystopic novel 1984 have skyrocketed in the wake of the NSA scandal. Clearly, the revelation that Big Brother actually is watching us has readers scrambling to literature for context, comfort, and counsel. But why stop at 1984? Here are 15 other fantastic books in which abuse of surveillance is a major plot point. Let’s hope this article doesn’t get us on the PRISM watch list, but if so—hi there, NSA! How’s life?

 1. Moore’s captivating graphic novel depicts a totalitarian regime that depends on snitches, spies, and off-the-grid purges.

2. Atwood builds a world in which women are forced into sexual slavery and placed under constant surveillance.

3. Based on his harrowing survival of the Russian revolution, Zamyatin’s We argues that sacrificing individuality comes with a devastating price.

4. Collins’ bestselling series is set in a world where government surveillance is a given, and ordinary citizens watch the deaths of teenagers on TV.

5. Kafka’s protagonist wanders helplessly through the bureaucratic nightmare of the legal system, unable to find his accuser.

6. Wells’ classic tale begins with the creepy idea that our Martian neighbors have been studying our weaknesses for millennia.

7. Long before 1984, there was mythology: the gods are always watching, and they aren’t shy about intervening either!

8.  Huxley’s masterpiece is often sold alongside 1984, as they are so thematically similar.

9. Doctorow’s action-packed YA novel follows a group of street-smart teens as they stand up against government overreach.

10. A Scanner Darkly is only one of many Philip K. Dick ruminations on widespread surveillance (see also: “The Minority Report”).

11. Bradbury’s dark masterpiece depicts a tyrannical government dead set on robbing its citizens of a powerful tool: books.

12. The second book of Hawks’ Fourth Realm Trilogy, The Traveler depicts a world run by totalitarian spies known as the Brethren.

13. Poe’s famous poem features a protagonist haunted by ghosts and watched by an ominous raven.

14. Most of Gibson’s “cyberpunk” novels feature ubiquitous surveillance systems, but Neuromancer takes the cake.

15. Bentham introduced the idea of the “panopticon” prison to the world, in which guards can see prisoners but prisoners can’t see guards.

Need even more surveillance reads? Check out this list.

  • ProgressiveVoice

    “1984″ by Erich Fromm?!?!!

  • Michelle Brandley

    Love that The Raven is on this list!