Today, my coworker, we'll call him Al, came into my office looking bewildered.
Al: Ok, I was on the elevator going to C1 (our basement/storage/mail room level) when this woman got on. She asked if me I knew I was going to C1. I told her yes and she asked me if I was sure and if I realized that was the basement. I mean, I pressed the button, didn't I?
Me: Weird. She got on one of our floors (we rent floors 2-5 to the Dept of Justice)?
Me: Why would anyone from one of our floors question going there? Everyone goes there to mail something or get something out of storage.
Al: It was weird. And especially from someone on 7. Don't we breed them for their docility?
Me: So they're Gammas? What are we, Betas? Let's face it, we sure as hell aren't the Alphas.
Al: We can dream, Susie, we can dream.
Me: [mumbling as I walk off to get tea] But I like being a Beta. Alphas work too hard...
If you haven't had the (for some, dubious) pleasure of reading Brave New World, then that exchange will mean nothing to you. However, if you have read it, you may remember that in this futuristic dystopian novel, people were made in petri dishes to fit into one of three groups: Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, the blue collar laboreres; Betas, the middle of the road beings; and the Alphas, the high intellect, upper class people. Gammas love being Gammas because Betas and Alphas have to think too much. Betas love being Betas because they're smarter than Gammas but don't have to work as hard as Alphas. And Alphas love being Alphas because they are superior to the two other groups. Etc.
While I didn't love this book - it's way too disturbing for me and depressing at the end - it provokes a lot of interesting conversations. There are so many themes in the book: technological advances, the caste system, lack of self, hedonism, Freud's Id, Ego and SuperEgo, etc. Again, I didn't like this book, but I appreciate it for the brilliance and the importance of its themes.
This isn't why I read books, but it is an added bonus. I love to have a conversation about them and glean some other insight, to see how someone else responded to it.
My favorites to discuss are: Brave New Work, The Handmaid's Tale, The Hunger Games, World War Z, and, just because I hate it SO much, 50 Shades of Grey. Oddly enough they're all dystopian. Except for 50 Shades, which is just awful.
So what books have you found relevant in today's world? Ones that spark conversations or arguments?