For Rebecca: What Books Are LIKE George Orwell’s 1984?

Published by Twigg on 2014-11-23

The other day a pleasant young lady came into my store shopping with her mother. Unlike most girls her age she was not carrying a cell-phone and texting her friends. She was actually paying attention to her shopping experience with her parent. We got into a discussion and it turns out she is reading in her senior year text1984text which I read in my senior year some fifty years ago.

A Question

Aside from asking the questions of the difference in reading the title in prospect versus reading in retrospect (possibly a topic for a nice inter-generational discussion), this young lady asked if I could recommend other books that might be similar to 1984.

I suggested Animal Farm and almost anything by Ayn Rand.

I did a search on Yahoo (I thought)and came up with some good leads on Actually my default search engine got switched to which in itself is an Orwellian type event. So here are some of the results from

The Results

From — Must Read Books if you like ‘1984’
–Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

From — If you like ‘1984’ you might like:
Animal Farm
Brave New World
Fahrenheit 451
A Clockwork Orange
Down And Out In Paris And London
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Lord Of The Flies
The Time Machine (on my list to read in 2015)
The Metamorphosis
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
The Trial
The Handmaid’s Tale had some matches with But here there were some newer titles that should be refreshing additions to your library:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #4) by Douglas Adams
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The Sandman, Vol. 7: Brief Lives (The Sandman #7) by Neil Gaiman
Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles, #2) by Frank Herbert
Catch-22 (Catch-22, #1) by Joseph Heller
Die Physiker by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
The Elephant Tree by R.D. Ronald
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works by Jonathan Swift
Candide by Voltaire
The Rainbow (Brangwen Family, #1) by D.H. Lawrence
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

There you go, Rebecca. Happy reading.

/s Twigg

When Grandfather Met Robin Hood

Published by Twigg on 2014-09-06

I just finished reading Robin Hood by Henry Gilbert. I was particularly interested as Twigg Hodges and Humphrey Twigg Hodges lived in the Peak District, which is often mentioned in this version of Robin Hood.

When Richard Lionhart returned from his crusade and had been ransomed from hostage takers in Germany, he sought to meet Robin Hood and thank him for his services to his people and for Robin’s help in collecting the king’s ransom.

A few paragraph’s regarding how Richard went to meet Robin Hood:

Two days later, Ralph Fitz-Stephen came to where the king was staying at the castle of Drakenhole, and craved audience with him. When he saw the king he bent on one knee, and when King Richard had commanded him to speak, he said:

‘Sire, I have learned that since you have kept in these northern parts, the outlaw Robin has been haunting the roads of Ollerton, stopping rich travellers and taking of their wealth. Now I give thee counsel in what way thou mayest get word with this rascal. Take five of thy lords — those who are not hasty or quick of temper, I would advise, lest they betray who ye be before thou hast word with the outlaw — and borrow monks’ weeds garments from the abbot of Maddersey across the river here. Then I will be your guide, and I will lead you to the road where Robin and his comrades do haunt, and I lay my head on it that ye shall see that rascal ere you reach Nottingham.’

‘By my faith,’ said Richard with a hearty laugh, ‘but I like thy counsel, forester. Do thou get the monkish garb from my Lord Abbot for myself and thee and my five lords, and we will go with thee.’

Though the day was already far gone, Richard would set out at once, and as soon as the monks’ garments were brought he put the great black gown over his rich surcoat, which blazed with the leopards of Anjou and the lilies of France, and then upon his head he put a hood and a wide-brimmed hat, such as ecclesiastics wore when they travelled. He was very elated at the prospect of so strange an adventure, and joked and laughed with the five knights whom he had chosen to go with him. These were Hamelin, Earl de Warenne, Ranulf, Earl of Chester, Roger Bigot, William, Earl of Ferrers, and Sir Osbert de Scofton.

For the story of what went on in this famous meeting you can refer to Henry Gilbert’s version or probably any of the other versions of Robin Hood. Here we are indebted to Henry Gilbert for naming the five knights who accompanied King Richard.

I mentioned the two Hodges forebears who lived in the Peak district. They lived on land once owned by the Earl of Ferrers. Another of the knights, Roger Bigot, is the ancestor of the wife of one of my Scrivner ancestors. Bigot, an ancestor of Hannah Crampton, wife of Benjamin Scrivner (1660-1704) is also one of my grandfathers.


Re- Recycle, Reuse, Reunion, Refuel, Restart, and Remember

Published by Twigg on 2014-08-11

This has been a summer of using things again, of doing things again, of repeating things again.

I have started sketching the layout for a book based on some of the histories presented in this website. The story of my forefathers has led me back to the Thames River as mentioned in an earlier blog. Specifically to the era of the famous renaissance London Bridge with the chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket and the fine homes built up over the roadway of the bridge. As I was organizing my pages of drafts I found a suitable loose-leaf binder to hold the project. This binder happened to be one I used for collecting rules for games during the years I had lunch duty with a young assistant P.E. teacher. We tried doing some group games one day a week during lunch. This gave some variety to the break for the kids and distracted them from some of the games that often ended in conflicts or injuries.

The serendipity here was the games viewable first on opening this notebook directly relate to my story. In the left cover pocket I found a collection of bridge games including several versions of London Bridge is Falling Down. The game at the front of the binder was Ship’s Captain, also known as Port & Starboard. What more appropriate games to keep filed with a family history that begins with a mariner whose life and career begin in a district of the Thames adjacent to the London Bridge?

Last week my wife and I went to visit our son and his family in the San Francisco area. One of our excursions took us to the Haight-Ashbury district. Of course we took our picture in front of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. “Love, Peace, and Ice Cream!” We also took time to shop at Bound Together Bookstore. This store is entirely run by volunteers. They call it An Anarchist Collective. You can find them at

Oh, yes! I did purchase some books while at Bound Together. I a book of poems by Alice Walker, whose novels I have enjoyed, and an important novel by Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here. This story by Lewis was first published in 1935, but is seems to capture the danger we face here in the twenty-first century. Look for notes soon on my Reading Now blog.

Flying home on Friday from the seed-bed of Sixties radicalism, I traveled Saturday to the fiftieth reunion of my 1964 high school class. It as a pleasure to visit old friends and to meet a few that I had not known back then. Most of us are retired now, yet a few are retooling for new careers, some having moved to be near aging parents are free now to move to their own preferred destinations. I like what one of our classmates wrote: It is a time of refueling for new adventures. I have been reading Jules Verne’s accounts of the the explorations of the world. It was not unusual for expeditions to lose ships and even the majority of their crew while charting the seas for future generations. Like those early explorers, our class has lost part of the crew. At this fifty year milestone, we are perhaps fortunate to have only lost about ten percent of our strength.

To my readers and classmates I wish a hearty “Bon voyage!” as you continue your life’s journeys.


A Voyage Long and Strange: A Guide to Early Explorers of America by Tony Horwitz

Published by Twigg on 2014-06-02

In keeping with presenting a history of America that is uniquely intertextual, I have chosen Tony Horwitz’ guidebook to touring America’s past. On a road trip some summers ago Tony pulled off the highway at Plymouth after the Red Sox gamed ended on the radio. His brief tour then led him to learn more about what happened in the 128 years between Columbus and the Mayflower. In fact Horwitz takes us on a fantastic voyage as he travels to all the scenes of the explorers, from the early Vikings right up to the Pilgrims stepping off the Mayflower.

I am sure you will enjoy reading along as Tony tells the story of his journey. In fact, you might want to include a segment of Tony’s travels as part of your own summer travel. You too can be an explorer of America’s history.


The Lives and Thames of My Grandfathers

Published by Twigg on 2014-05-28

I have been very busy researching the roots of my maternal grandfather. Of course this site is basically about my paternal grandfather. We have had the roots of my mom’s maternal grandfather for years, long enough to whet the appetites of all the grandchildren for more knowledge of our forebears. I have found some very interesting stories in Grandpa Troy’s lineage, so many that I have lost some of them in the maze of my tree on I remember there is an important Irish connection, and as I have just recently written about how the Irish saved civilization, it is important indeed. In fact I’ll be sure to wear green next St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t know I was even part Irish.

I have been attacking the search for the missing story in a systematic way. I am creating a pedigree worksheet one generation at a time. Working in an Excel spreadsheet I listed my mother’s dad and his ancestral fathers, one to a column. Then I entered the name of the wife of the first below him. Adding rows as I entered wives for each successive generation I ended with thirty-two ancestors in the fifth column. Printing on legal paper in landscape mode gives me a nice visual of who fits where. Each column on the printout is a generation.

I had worked through this process and came to grandpa’s earliest known ancestor. We did not know his wife, so I did a search. A wife came up! Also a new year of birth for grandpa. But most important of all a couple user stories popped up in search. The notes described what my ancestor was doing in his time and where. Earliest known Grandfather Scrivner was born in 1645 in England. He was a lighter. A lighter is someone who loads ships from smaller boats. The lighters can maneuver from shallow water at the docks out to ships moored in deep water.

Earliest known Grandfather Hodges, John Hodges, was a mariner. His ships took people and cargo to the New World. In the course of his work John Hodges gave a note to be paid in London on the last day of March, 1650. I can just see John Hodges sailing up the Thames to pay his debt at the Rammes Head Tavern. Can you see the five year old boy watching from the walk along the river? That is my other ancestor.
Imagine that 300 years later the captain’s grandson and the boy’s granddaughter will marry half way around the world.

London in the seventeenth century was the London of ‘London Bridge is falling down.’ It was the capital of a great maritime empire. It was a city of architectural wonders, of literature and art.

Those were the times of my grandfathers along the Thames.


How the Irish Saved Civilization — Introduction to a Theme

Published by Twigg on 2014-05-05

Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization is the cornerstone of his Hinges of History series. As I continue to build time-lines in the wiki portion of this site, it is necessary to have an anchor to attach the line. Cahill establishes the connection between Ireland and the “old world.” He also quite briefly mentions the presence of Celtic peoples in America. Upon this I shall build a new structure in the main part of the wiki.

For now I would like to quote a passage in which Cahill describes the Irish attitude toward literature about one hundred years after the death of St. Patrick:

These were happy human beings, occasionally waspish, but normally filled with delight at the tasks their fate had set for them. They did not see themselves as drones. Rather, they engaged the text they were working on, tried to comprehend it after their fashion, and, if possible, add to it, even improve on it. In this dazzling new culture, a book was not an isolated document on a dusty shelf; book truly spoke to book, and writer to scribe, and scribe to reader, from one generation to the next. These books were, as we would say in today’s jargon, open, interfacing, and intertextual–glorious literary smorgasbords in which the scribe often tried to include a bit of everything, from every era, language, and style known to him. No one would see their like again till James Joyce would write Ulysses.

Here is hoping that you find just as intertextual as our Irish heroes that saved civilization.


Gold Rush and Early San Francisco

Published by Twigg on 2014-05-04

I recently posted several books to my Reading Now blog, , that give some color to life in San Francisco and the gold mines of the gold rush days.

Horatio Alger’s Ben’s Nugget: A Boy’s Search for a Fortune, is a risks of those who went into the mining business. If a minor was successful he might be robbed. If he was a stranger in town he might be lynched on the testimony of a thief. Read the story for life in the gold field, the rugged inns of the mining towns, and the hotels and boarding houses.

Jules Verne’s All Around the Moon, has an interesting chapter where a naval captain acquires specialized salvage equipment in San Francisco in preparation for retrieving a nineteenth century moon shot. Literally a moon shot, as the space vehicle was a hollow aluminum bullet shot from a nine hundred feet long cannon. There is a good description of the condition of the harbor including various shipwrecks and obstacles that were cleared in conjunction with the gold rush.

Another Horatio Alger story, Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World, has a description of life in San Francisco at a slightly later era. Perhaps twenty or thirty years have passed since the gold rush. Still the tale describes a city where you can make a success if you keep your eyes open. Also the trip around South America is a good description of the route many gold miners used to get to California.

The discovery of gold in California and the subsequent gold rush is one of the ten days that most changed the history of the United States. See the wiki article on 1848 Gold Rush.