It’s a new year, which means many of us have made New Year’s resolutions. While talking with a few friends, I realized that I have read very few fiction novels with conservative ideas and values. So after some research, soul-searching and hours staring at my bookshelf, I have compiled a list of ten books that champion, or at least analyze, conservatism in one way or another.
1. 1984 by George Orwell
George Orwell tells the story of Oceania, a country ruled by a totalitarian government and the ever-present Big Brother. Perhaps not the most uplifting story, 1984 deals with issues of human morality, perseverance in the face of persecution and the ultimate human desire for freedom. It conveys the undeniable message that humans seek freedom from restrictive government and a warning to future generations not to allow themselves to be controlled by the government or the media, all of which are important takeaways in a time of ‘fake news’ and political correctness.
2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park is not Jane Austen’s most famous novel, but I believe it is one of her most powerful. It deals with the morality of the characters and champions Fanny Price for her modesty and morality. As always, Austen writes about traditional gender roles and the importance of morality and propriety in relationships, which are always refreshing lessons.
3. Antigone by Sophocles (I recommend the Rex Warner or David Grene translation)
One of Sophocles’ greatest tragedies, Antigone is essentially about the differences between what is the law and what is right. Antigone’s decisions throughout the play shows the audience the importance of one’s own morality and piety, but also the importance of familial relationships and loyalty.
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women tells the story of the March girls, four sisters who live in Concord, MA during and after the Civil War. As the siblings grow up from little girls into women, they learn the importance of religion, charity and friendship. While it is a book that ends with a “they all got married and lived happily” statement, Little Women is, above all, about family and growing up to be good people.
5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel mainly deals with the topic of censorship. The society in Fahrenheit 451 is one in which all dissenting opinions are silenced and the population is forced into ignorance. While not so drastic as in the novel, today’s society has its own version of book-burning censorship in the form of political correctness.
6. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Betty Smith’s novel focuses on a family living in Brooklyn before, during, and after World War I. It is about the Nolan Family and their individual struggles through poverty and other kinds of tragedies. The novel values family and hard work, and praises characters who have compassion for those in need. It’s a wonderful read about a tight-knit family, who perseveres until the end.
7. The Circle by Dave Eggers
While perhaps not the most well-written novel, this satire showcases everything that could go wrong with technology and the media. This book offers a look into something similar to the radical progressive ideology. While the company and its employees say that they are doing what they believe to be morally right, the reader and a small faction of the book’s characters realize that The Circle is a company that cares about power, not morality. They effectively run the world, all while believing that they are saving humanity from themselves. Just as many progressives claim that their policies are about morality, they too seem to care more about their own power than the freedom and happiness of the everyday man.
8. Shelley’s Heart by Charles McCarry
McCarry’s novel deals with a liberal president whose conservative opponent contests the election. While it feels similar, at first, to the Russian collusion theories, McCarry’s novel deals instead with the ins-and-outs of American politics and its politicians. While McCarry does not discuss conserative ideology, his novel does bring up ideas about ethics in politics. It is a fun, interesting read and definitely worth the time.
9. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
This comedy has many important messages for the modern conservative, especially after the media disaster concerning the Covington Catholic High School stories. One of the main characters, Claudio, receives false information from an untrustworthy source, and impulsively makes a decision which ultimately causes much grief for every character involved. In addition, Much Ado About Nothing focuses on the close relationships of family and friends, and the devotion (or lack thereof) between two lovers. It cautions readers to question their news sources, to think before they act and to love deeply before time runs out.
10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Often considered a children’s story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe deals with themes that are still relevant to conservatives today. Emphasizing family, the book shows the importance of not only familial relationships, but also in forgiveness and acceptance. With his depiction of the battle between Good and Evil, C.S. Lewis also writes about the importance of morality and compassion.