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Animal Farm. Want more deets?

Animal Farm

We've also got a complete Online Course about Animal Farm, with three weeks worth of readings and activities to make sure you know your stuff. Move over, Babe and Wilbur: there's a new talking pig in town. In fact, there are a lot of talking pigs. And talking horses and birds and cows, for that matter. But George Orwell's Animal Farm is no Jim Henson-inspired comedy about a pig who just wants to be a sheepdog, or bittersweet tale about interspecies love—it's a biting satire about tyrannical governments and a dark warning about the perils of Russian communism.

Today, Animal Farm is a classic. You see, Animal Farm takes a blow at the Soviet Union, especially its leader Josef Stalin—but the Soviet Union was an ally in the U.S.' But Orwell was no knee-jerk anticommunist. Since communism is an extreme form of socialism, Orwell actually fought alongside communists in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s. Orwell satirizes all political tyranny. Okay. Well, come on. Lord of the Flies. Before The Hunger Games, there was William Golding's 1954 Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies

Well, okay, before there was The Hunger Games, there was reality TV and the 1996 Japanese novel (and later move) Battle Royale. But you have to admit, the premise is similar: a bunch of kids end up on an island/ arena and turn into vicious savages in about, oh, five minutes. Just like The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies was a great success—although we're not convinced that Suzanne Collins is going to follow in William Golding's steps by winning a Nobel Prize for Literature for "illuminat[ing] the human condition of the world today. " (Love ya, Suze.) Lord of the Flies is an allegory (essentially a story with a moral), about…well, something.

Just as Lord of the Flies wasn't the last kids-stuck-on-an-island story, it wasn't the first. Naturally, this was a huge success in Victorian England—but Golding wasn't so impressed. Yep, it's about as creepy as it sounds. Um. You think that's just fiction? After only six days. The Diary of Anne Frank. Anne Frank wanted to be a writer.

The Diary of Anne Frank

It’s both wonderful and tragic that Anne indeed became a well-known writer around the world, but only after her death in a Nazi concentration camp. This diary is the story of Anne’s life as a young Jewish girl in hiding from the Nazis. When her family’s hiding place, the "Secret Annex" was raided, her Anne and her family were imprisoned in concentration camps. Anne’s diary, a wonderful coming-of-age story, was left behind in the Secret Annex, but kept safe by a family friend, Miep Gies. Anne's father, Otto Frank, was the Secret Annex's sole survivor of the Holocaust. The Diary of a Young Girl was first published in 1947 in Dutch as Het Achterhius (Secret Annex). Anne Frank’s diary proves that the emotions we experience as teenagers are a universal experience. Most importantly, Anne Frank gives a face and a personality to the millions of Jews who died in concentration camps during World War II. All Quiet on the Western Front.