As anyone who’s sat through English class knows, there are some books that are classics because they’re interesting and just plain timeless (Frankenstein, Pride & Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, anyone?). But at the same time, there’s an equal number that we still don’t understand why we had to suffer through reading them. Sandra Newman tackles this problem in the new book The Western lit Survival Guide. This self-described “irreverent guide to the classics, from Homer to Faulkner” isn’t exaggerating one bit- it covers the early Greeks to the 20th century and makes the journey actually fun. Filled with the Brooklyn writer and professor’s honest opinion on everyone from Virgil to Milton to Shakespeare (his section is called “William ‘Look at Me, I Get My Own Chapter’ Shakespeare”), this 280-page tome manages to poke fun at Western Lit without dismissing its importance. Think of it as a snarkier version of Sparknotes- the facts are correct, but they actually make you want to read the books, instead of just faking it from the summary. Our advice? Instead of basing your Taming of the Shrew knowledge on watching 10 Things I Hate About You a million times, make your brain happy and check out this pageturner instead. Buy it here.
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