Synopses & Reviews
If you're like most folks, you probably feel guilty for never reading War and Peace
, or Moby-Dick
. Or maybe you read them in school, but you didn't exactly enjoy them, right? Writer and professor Jack Murnighan says it's not the books that put you off, it was the lifeless, uninspiring way they're usually taught. Now, with Beowulf on the Beach
, you'll discover not only why these classics deserve another chance, but how to read great books in general.
Balancing humor and expertise, Murnighan picks 50 of the most revered books of all time and explains what the professors never told you: that Moby-Dick is funny, Dante will make you cry, Anna Karenina is a beach read, and James Joyce is great, but only if he's talking about drinking, sex, or organ meats. Plus you get the juicy tidbits on what you're supposed to know, what you need to know, and what's okay for you to skip without feeling guilt.
From Homer and Proust to Beloved and the Bible, Beowulf on the Beach is a user-friendly guide through the imposing world of capital-L Literature. In no time at all, you'll be revved up and ready to tackle Dickens or Woolf — only this time without the test.
"In this guide to 50 classics of literature, author and professor Murnighan (The Naughty Bits) posits that the classics aren't actually difficult to read — we've just not been taught to read them correctly. In chronological order, Murnighan breaks down classics of the Western canon, from Homer's The Iliad to Toni Morrison's Beloved, accounting for the work, the hype and the takeaway. Murnighan's strong opinions won't click with everyone, but his fresh, funny voice will keep readers thumbing through entries on The Canterbury Tales, Crime and Punishment, The Trial, Lolita and Giovanni's Room. Each entry includes a synopsis, a reputation recap, 'what people don't know but should,' best lines, what's sexy and what to miss. However, Murnighan's intended audience seems like a rare bird; rather than draw in those who might learn from this roundup, it's more likely the book will attract devout readers who have already read and enjoyed a number of these titles. Still, should they find reason to pick it up, the less-well-read will be pleased with Murnighan's accessibility and charm." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Feel bad about not reading or not enjoying the so-called great books? Dont sweat it, its not your fault. Did anyone tell you that Anna Karenina
is a beach read, that Dickens is hilarious, that the Iliad
s battle scenes rival Hollywoods for gore, or that Joyce is at his best when hes talking about booze, sex, or organ meats?
Writer and professor Jack Murnighan says its time to give literature another look, but this time youll enjoy yourself. With a little help, youll see just how great the great books are: how they can make you laugh, moisten your eyes, turn you on, and leave you awestruck and deeply moved. Beowulf on the Beach is your field guide-erudite, witty, and fun-loving-for helping you read and relish fifty of the biggest (and most skipped) classics of all time. For each book, Murnighan reveals how to get the most out of your reading and provides a crib sheet that includes the Buzz, the Best Line, Whats Sexy, and What to Skip.
About the Author
JACK MURNIGHAN has a Ph.D. in medieval and renaissance literature from Duke University. He is the author of The Naughty Bits and Classic Nasty and has written for Esquire, Glamour, and Nerve. He lives in New York City and teaches creative nonfiction at the University of the Arts.