Spotlight on timeless authors – Orwell, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

What makes an author’s works timeless? At Team Booko, some of our favourite authors include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell.  We think they are timeless because their stories remain fresh and captivating decades after publication; because they write speculative works that are not time-specific; and because their writing has influenced countless authors.  Here are our pick of their works:

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Big Brother.  Thought Police.  Newspeak.  Orwellian.  These now-common terms are testament to the strong and enduring impact that George Orwell, and particularly Nineteen Eighty-four, have on our views about politics and society.  This chilling story about Winston Smith, an ‘editor’ whose job is to rewrite history to conform to the government’s version of events, is an early masterpiece of dystopian fiction, a genre that remains popular through works such as The Hunger Games.  With major political events fast approaching in the US, Australia as well as the UK, the time is right to re-read this modern classic.



Why I Write by George Orwell

Besides politically-charged fiction, George Orwell is acclaimed for his essays, where he is analytical, autobiographical and persuasive all at once.  In Why I Write, Orwell argues that four main motives underlie writing – egotism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose.  This discussion is insightful for all aspiring writers, as well as anyone who has a creative urge.  This slim volume also contains other celebrated essays including “Politics and the English Language” and “The Lion and the Unicorn”.  Reissued as part of the Penguin Great Ideas series.



Tolkien Box Set: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

It took over 60 years for technology to catch up to Tolkien’s imagination – to be able to depict Middle Earth visually, and do it well.  Inspired by fairy tales, mediaeval languages, ancient mythologies and religion, Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories are epic in scale and feature quests, action, comedy, friendship.  These stories seem timeless and elemental, and are acclaimed as the originators of modern high fantasy.  This movie tie-in set contains both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, telling the complete story of the Hobbits’ adventures with the One Ring.  A beautiful edition for fans new and old.

A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins

From Lord of the Rings to A Game of Thrones – an awe-inspiring feature of Tolkien’s stories is his world-building, where Middle Earth is so richly imagined that it comes with languages and mythology as well as geography and history.  His meticulous approach has influenced countless fantasy writers since.  Explore Tolkien’s creative methods in A Secret Vice, based on a lecture he gave on constructing languages, and the relationship between mythology and language.  The book also contains previously unpublished materials connected to the essay.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe pocket edition by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends and colleagues who shared an interest in mythology and fantasy writing. Lucky for us, their creatively fruitful friendship has led to both Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is jam-packed with elements that captivate children – an epic quest, resourceful child heroes, fantastic creatures, adventure, and good versus evil.  This edition offers a beautiful pocket-sized hardback of the most popular and best-known of the Narnia books.

The Illustrated Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Before the success of Narnia, C.S. Lewis was better known for his Christian writings (and in fact, The Chronicles of Narnia contains Christian themes).  One of his most accessible and entertaining religious works is The Screwtape Letters, which offers a sly and satirical look at human nature.  These letters, supposedly from a senior demon (Screwtape) to a junior and inexperienced one (Wormwood), offer advice on how to lead humans into temptation.  This illustrated edition also includes a sequel, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, which critiques trends in British education.

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a librarian working in public libraries. As a lifelong booklover, she loves having access to a library’s worth of books! As a librarian, an important (and fun) part of her work is about connecting people to new ideas and new books. Karen is a literary magpie who can't settle on a single favourite genre – she loves narrative nonfiction, historical fantasies and food writing.