Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Speed reading: how to absorb the classics without breaking a sweat

We all love to read. We’re also, every last one of us, crunched for time. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get to all those classics you’ve been meaning to read — for-ever — and be able to discuss them at highbrow gatherings and coffee klatsches? Wouldn’t you like to say, wisely, with complete confidence, that the real message of The Sun Also Rises is, “It was in Europe after the war. We were depressed. We drank a lot. We were still depressed”?

Well, the good people at Book-A-Minute Classics have done the boiling down for you. I dare say you can get through more than one book a minute there, putting everything from Beowulf to Catch-22 under your belt in one brief session.

Here, for instance, is the short version of Anna Karenina. Who has time to read that tome in our busy 21st century lives?

Anna Karenina
I am having an affair with Count Vronsky.

Alexey Karenin
I can only forgive you if you die afterward.

Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky
Then the cruel double standard of upper class Russian society shall have to tear us apart.

(It does.)


All you miss is Tolstoy’s tiresome prose, as translated by Constance Garnett (usually), because you bought the 99 cent edition.

Here at What The Hell I’m all about saving you time. So you can read my books.

13 comments on “Speed reading: how to absorb the classics without breaking a sweat

  1. chloeroberts93
    March 25, 2014

    I like these novel summaries

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 25, 2014

      They really boil ’em down, don’t they? 😉

      • chloeroberts93
        March 25, 2014

        Yep, no need to read the books now

  2. John W. Howell
    March 25, 2014

    Let me try Yesterday Road. Ahem . . Old guy gets lost on the road. He is picked up by a waitress who obviously has the need for affiliation. They travel all over in search of someone. The story ends

  3. 1WriteWay
    March 25, 2014

    Who needs prose anyway.
    Actually, given your example of Beowulf in particular, IT’S THE F**KING PROSE THAT I WANT TO READ (or, in the case of Beowulf, hear Seamus Heaney read 🙂 )

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 25, 2014

      You mean the story’s only part of the story?!

      • 1WriteWay
        March 25, 2014

        Have you ever heard Seamus Heaney read Beowulf? It’s a like a lullaby … albeit a violent, bloody lullaby. You know the first part of my comment (Who needs prose anyway.) was sarcastic. I mean, on the one hand I would love to be able to read faster because I have SO much I want to read. But a one-line synopsis?? Gee, even Cliff’s Notes gives more info (although nothing compares with the actual work of genius).

      • Kevin Brennan
        March 25, 2014

        I know you posted Heaney’s Beowulf a few months ago, but it’s like 80 hours long! I’ll listen to a portion one day soon…

        I think you get the spirit of these summaries, though. The real message is, You have to be there.

      • 1WriteWay
        March 25, 2014

        Well, if you were a knitter, you could listen and get some work done 🙂
        Yes, I got the message of the summaries. I’ve just had a couple of Pilsners and am feeling crankier than normal (oh, that is scary!).

      • Kevin Brennan
        March 25, 2014

        Backing slowly away…

      • 1WriteWay
        March 25, 2014

        I’m laughing so hard right now I’m crying 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Kevin Brennan
        March 25, 2014

        Goodnight, Irene. 😴

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2014 by in Publishing and tagged , , , .
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