Book Reviews From An English Major Who Didn’t Do The Reading

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The Bell Jar

Watch as Esther, a white woman with a college degree, paid summer internship, and multiple dating prospects, spirals into a deep depression that could probably be aided by, like, some Zoloft. Written by Sylvia Plath as an unanswered cry for help in regard to her own mental well-being, this novel will make you really sad and also think, “huh, so THAT’S why she stuck her head in an oven.”  

Don Quixote

In a novel that strikes an odd parallel to the works of Monty Python, Don Quixote, a middle-aged guy in Spain sets out on several failed adventures to compensate for his lack of ability to get–and maintain—a sufficient erection. Searching for love, glory, and a boner medication that actually works, follow Don Quixote on his daring journey. 

Moby Dick

The famous book that inspired thousands of eight graders nationwide to giggle at the title is a must-read. Shipwrecked, Captain Ahab spends the majority of this long, long book searching for a white whale named Moby Dick in an extended, homo-erotic metaphor for the failings of mankind and search for meaning. By the end of the novel, all I could think was, “JEEZ, can Moby and Ahab just kiss already??”

The Old Man and the Sea

Read the book that’ll have you asking, “do ALL white guy authors have to have the kind of mid-life crisis that requires a sort-of pointless, macho adventure?” In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago chases a marlin (largely because the white whale was already taken) along with an orphaned tag-along boy named Manolin. Throughout the novel, Santiago teaches the boy valuable lessons including: Joe DiMaggio is a good baseball player, anyone who calls you a washed-up narcissist is just jealous, and it’s totally cool to become so absorbed with a fish that you lose touch with your family, friends, and the very world itself. 

On the Road

In a refreshing take on male adventure –because it takes place on land this time—Dean, a womanizer searching for something unattainable, a personality, trapezes across the country with his  buddy, Sal. In the novel that inspired college girls at Vassar to start smoking clove cigarettes, follow Dean on his journey for friendship and maybe even true love. So grab a copy of the novel that’ll leave you saying, “oh shit, I think I was supposed to be reading Grapes of Wrath. My bad.”

Pride and Prejudice 

In this novel-turned-film starring Colin Firth shirtless, fall in love with Mr. Darcy, a guy who eventually agrees to stoop below his social and economic class to bang, and never marry, Elizabeth. Enjoy the Jane Austin novel that gave way to films like He’s Just Not That Into You, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and, indirectly, the entire Twilight saga and boasted the age-old message: you’re only worth as much as the guy you’re screwing. 

The Communist Manifesto

Ah yes, the book that has your cashier at your local organic food co-op all hot and bothered about capitalism. In this masterpiece by Marx, explore the pitfalls of exploitation, class struggle, and the forces of production. Try tossing around terms like “proletarians” or “bourgeoisie” at family get-togethers post-graduation to prove to your dad that your English degree wasn’t a total waste. Hey, capitalism be damned, but at least he’s still paying your rent.  

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