"And the Moral of the Story Is..."

1. Hamlet by William Shakespeare- Just make up your mind already, dude.
2. Anything by Stephen Crane- It doesn't matter what you do- the Universe still thinks you're super lame.

3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes- You can never read too many novels...oh wait, maybe you can...

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke- As they say in the Lion King, it's the circle of life, people.

5. Moby Dick by Herman Melville- When a big ol' whale pisses you off by gnawing on your leg like it's a chicken bone, go to physical therapy and seek emotional support from friends and family, rather than dragging lots of other people with you on a suicide mission to mess up that dang whale.

6. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann- Treat every out-of-town visit like a permanent move, cause you never know if you'll wind up staying there, like, 10 years or something.

7. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser- Cluelessness is not something you want to broadcast when you're a young woman in strange new city, for you'll just become a skeevy-guy magnet.

8. Dracula by Bram Stoker- If you have a choice between Count Dracula's castle and the Holiday Inn, stay at the Holiday Inn.

9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- If you absolutely must create a freakish monster thing, be sure to make a girlfriend for it, cause if you don't, he'll be really, really mad.

10. The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne- It's called a "utopia" for a reason, geniuses.

11. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka- Sucks to be a bug.

12. Macbeth by William Shakespeare- You should treat your guests well by, you know, not murdering them in their beds.

13. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain- When you travel around in a boat with a friend, away from human civilization, when you do run in to people you realize just how crazy they all are.

14. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- When it comes down to choosing between the hot guy who treats you like crap and the not-as- hot guy who treats you like a queen, it's really not a choice at all.

15. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser- When you start going out with two chickies at the same time, it gets really complicated.

16. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert- You can't always get what you want, but that's no reason to poison yourself and die a horribly slow and painful death.

17. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad- Don't frighten the natives.

18. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells- When the freaky alien things come swooping down on Earth and shooting lasers or whatever at everyone, run as fast as you can cause those aliens are mean.

19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- Yeah, yeah, money can't buy happiness- check.

20. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy- Just when you thought that life couldn't get any more unfair, you read Tess and lost any last shred of hope.

21. "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson- Strive to live a life that's so awesome that, on your deathbed, you can say to your friends, "we had some really great times, huh guys?"

22. Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce- A book that ends at its beginning and begins at its end is inviting you not to read it, and you should accept that invitation.

23. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky- Crime, really, doesn't pay- it just makes you turn your soul inside out and beat it with a stick, that is, if you're an angst-ridden, depressed, 19th-century Russian guy.

24. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton- Society cramps your style, but it's so damn convenient when it accepts you.

25. Odyssey by Homer- Go through life looking straight ahead and ignoring all those bothersome people who try to get all up in your face and make their business your business- you know, like those kiosk people at the mall who accost you and spray you with some new perfume or whatever.

26. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann- Look, you can't be awesome forever.

27. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust- Better not eat that corn chip- otherwise, you'll be mentally transported back to that time when you were 9 years old and you went to that camp that you liked but stupid Andy whatever-his- last-name-was was there too and he ripped that bag of corn chips right out of your hand and you had just bought it with the last 50 cents you had left but you were too scared to tell the counselor cause Andy would have beaten you up. So yeah, ixnay on the cornchip-ay, monsieur.

28. Anything by e. e. cummings:



are for


29. King Lear by William Shakespeare- Don't bother arguing with your parents. Or your children. Just don't bother.

30. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk- Don't beat yourself up about it.

31. Paradise Lost by John Milton- If you want a snack that badly, just open up a can of Pringles, jeez.

32. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury- Lock those books up, lock 'em up GOOD, like behind a big honkin' solid steel door or a vault or something, and then station a mean, growly dog in front of that door to guard it, cause ain't NOBODY takin' your books.

33. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens- Don't let people treat you like a doormat all the time, cause pretty soon they're gonna be like "hey, this doormat is familiar and comfy, and it's even got my footprints on it, so I think I'll just use this doormat forever!"

34. The Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin- Do what your dad says, not what he does, cause he's, like, world famous and writes really well and helped form the freakin' country you live in, for God's sake, so even if he's done some stupid stuff just take his advice.

35. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- Freaky dude with wife locked up in attic does not a great employer make.

36. Beowulf by some unknown dude- Be nice to the rampaging monster, cause if you mess with him, his mamma's gonna come after you.

37. 1984 by George Orwell- If Big Brother's watching you, well, give him something FUN to watch- you know, paint yourself blue and walk around on your hands and yodel or something, and I'm sure he'll appreciate it cause it's the thought that counts, am I right?

38. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann- You might want to consider NOT going on vacation to a place that's known for its germy miasmas cause, you know, you could catch cholera and die and then what would you do about next year's vacation???

39. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving

Don't fall asleep, cause you might wake up in the 24th century or something where the cats have all taken over the Earth and there's cat litter everywhere, and mouse, fish, and bird carcasses line the streets and everything smells REALLY bad and your cat overlords will only give you a teeny tiny cat bed to sleep in.

40. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Vegetarianism might just be your best bet if you're not into, you know, meat ground up with rat dung or rat-poison flavoring in your sausage links- just sayin'.

41. The Shining by Stephen King

If you're definitely going to take that job babysitting the freaky haunted old hotel in the middle of nowhere, be sure to bring plenty to read and lots of DVDs to watch, cause all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...

42. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder will out, but it'll take a helluva lot longer if you do the deed with a big ol' posse.

43. White-Jacket by Herman Melville

Listen to your mama and don't run off to sea (even though this is the 21st century and people kind of don't do that so much anymore, but whatever...)

44. Phases of an Inferior Planet by Ellen Glasgow

You can love opera and you can love science, but you can also stay sane and have a good, enjoyable life- they're not mutually exclusive, y'all.

45. Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire

Life is like stinky, rotting roadkill (here heave great big sigh of l'ennui...)

46. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot

Don't be like the J-dawg; dude's got issues; love, Tommy.

47. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War, uh, good god y'all, what is it good for, absolutely nuthin'.


48. "Bartelby, the Scrivener" by Herman Melville

If your boss asks you to do anything not specifically spelled out in your employment contract, tell him/her that you would prefer not to.

49. The Ambassadors by Henry James

Don't be indecisive...well, maybe sometimes it's appropriate, but then again, there are other times when it's definitely not appropriate, but you really don't know sometimes, and you need to think about it a lot and even then sometimes you can't really decide if you should or should not be indecisive...

50. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
If a big 'ol plague comes roaring through town, grab your friends and go out into the country to some abandoned house, play beer pong, and tell bawdy stories, cause, man, plagues are extremely uncool.

51."The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe

Don't let any talking birds into your place cause they'll just make you paranoid, but then again, if you think you're hanging out with a talking bird, maybe you ARE paranoid, and maybe everyone else already knows it.... (insert shifty eyes here)

52.Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

If the dude you're supposed to meet up with is a no-show after 15 minutes, he's probably not coming so... you know, finish your coffee, read some more of that book you started the other day, and go home already.

53.Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott

If it walks like a scheming, conniving gold-digger, and it talks like a scheming, conniving gold- digger, know the rest...

54.Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Don't ever ever ever name your child Humbert Humbert or George George or anything like that cause you're just setting him up for trouble.

55.Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy

Seriously, don't fall asleep!!! (See "Rip Van Winkle" post)

56.Ulysses by James Joyce

(I'm sorry, but am I supposed to be able to come up with a moral for Ulysses when the only way I can actually understand what I'm reading is if I consult the equally huge Ulysses Annotated for every single word? I mean, really, Jimmy, really?)

57."The Awakening" by Kate Chopin

Don't let a fickle boy-toy get you so depressed that you drown yourself in the ocean, even if his name *is* Rrrrrrroberrrrrrrr...

58.Under the Dome by Stephen King

If you think aliens are scary, you don't even want to know what their kids are like...

59."The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

If your doctor ever says to you, "you look depressed, why don't you go lock yourself up in a house somewhere out in the country and stare at grimy, puke-yellow wallpaper all day and you'll feel MUCH better...eventually...," you should smack that doctor hard and then go find another one.

60.Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

If you like always being proven wrong, be best friends with someone like Sherlock Holmes- if your ego and self-esteem aren't pulverized after a few weeks, you get a gold star sticker.

61.The Man of Property by John Galsworthy

Think about it like this: Pepe le Pew is chasing la chatte charmante and just as he grabs her and starts planting wet, skunky kisses on her, she slips out of his arms and runs to a park, where she dives into a stroller and hides under the blankets, but Pepe (of course) finds her and grabs her again, but she slips away again and this time hides in a mound of fruit in front of a grocery store, but Pepe finds her...well, it's kinda like that, but without all the actual running and grabbing and slobbering and skunks and cats and whatnot.

62.The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

So apparently, those stiff, stodgy Puritan types LOVED monogramed clothes and accessories- who knew?!

63.Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert

Remember- and this is very important- keep the woman you love and your mistress and your OTHER mistress far apart from one another, cause otherwise things could get very dicey.

64.The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

If you don't know what "vivisection" is, that's a good thing, cause you really don't wanna know.

65.The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The BUTLER did it!!!

66.The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

If a painting can do all that freaky stuff to a dude, I think I'm gonna stick with photos, thanks.

67.The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Nothing good ever happens when people are stranded on a deserted island (I mean, you watched "Lost," right?)

68.The Iliad by Homer

Really, if you're gonna be THAT CLUELESS and accept a big ol' wooden horse from some strangers as a "gift" and not give it another thought,...well, I actually don't know what to tell you.

69.Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Apparently dead people like to hang with their fellow townies and talk about the old times sooo....

70.The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

When someone says to you, "hey, come with me, I'm going on this great adventure, there's this place deep in the interior of South America where there are tons of dinosaurs and other huge and freaky creatures that we all thought were extinct, but some still survive there, and I'm going to go find this place and prove that it exists, why don't you come with me? It'll be fun!!!" tell that person that you do not wish to speak to them anymore, cause you value your life and they clearly do not.

71. Jurassic Park shamelessly cribbed by Michael Crichton (jk, Mikey, we're cool)

How about this- if you absolutely MUST bring back an extinct life form and set it up in a park somewhere on this planet near humans, bring back something cute and cuddly (like the dodo) or fuzzy (like the woolly rhinoceros).

72. Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
There are some people who need *the obvious* to come up to them dressed in plaids and polka dots and club them over the head vociferously with a big wooden paddle, and then drag them to a wall and bang their head against it several times.

73. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

There'll always be somebody who isn't down with your main squeeze, but so what??

74. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Some people are a little TOO into their jobs- you know, like that Inspector Javert dude...dude needs to get a LIFE

75. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Yes, apparently dead people can speak- now we've got TWO authors who think so! (I'm lookin' at you, Edgar Lee Masters)

76. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Trains are, like, TOTALLY awesome and anyone who tries to take your train away from you is like, totally NOT awesome.

77. Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola

Big, huge, gigantor franchise barging into town and putting all the little guys out of business- yes, it happened in 19th-century France, too.

78. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It is very, very, very, very, very, very cold in Siberia, so that icicle you swore you saw forming on your nose last year when you were in Chicago in the dead of winter- yeah, that wasn't even close.

79. Inferno by Dante
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the circle.

80. Emily Dickinson's poetry

If slant rhymes make you all twitchy, don't read Emmy's poems.

81. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Yes, yes, everyone's phoney-baloney; thanks for stating the obvious, Holdie.

82. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams


(sorry, couldn't help myself)

83. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

After suffering through about half of this monster and giving it careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that ol' Sammy Rich wrote Clarissa on a dare. I image the conversation going something like this:

Richardson: I rock this whole book-writing business, y'all.
Other dude: Yeah? Prove it.
Richardson: Ok, I will. I'll write the best damned book you've ever read.
Dude: Bet you can't write more than a thousand pages.
Richardson: I'll write a KAJILLION pages. Just you wait.

And thus, Clarissa was born.

84. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

When you're playing around outside, don't eat any of the funky-looking mushrooms or clovers or anything, cause you might have these really bad hallucinations.

85. The Pit by Frank Norris

Fancy stock market shenanigans- yeah, they didn't work out back then, either.

86. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

Invisibility is awesome. ..oh wait, no it isn't

87. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

As Tom Lehrer once said, "so be sweet and kind to mother, now and then have a chat, buy her candy or some flowers or a brand new hat, but maybe you had better let it go at that..."

88. The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon

Jews + ubercold weather = very unhappy campers

(Unless, of course, there's matzoh ball soup involved, and then it's all good )

89. A Gallery of Women by Theodore Dreiser

The Dreiser-dawg was a mayja playa.

(Yeah, Theo, don't try to pass all that off as fiction. We all know that the chickies in this book were, like, girlfriends #81-96 or something.)

90. Ernest Hemingway's short stories

Brevity rocks.

(I'm sorry, Ernie, was that sentence not short enough for you? I'll try to do better next time!)

91. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

If you ever timetravel, don't go to the 1930s Dustbowl cause it was very dusty

92. Anything by D.H.Lawrence

Love is SO mysterious that it can't be explained- but you can still try by writing lots of big honkin' novels.

93. The Squatter and the Don by Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton

You can indeed go to sleep in one country and wake up in another without having moved an inch! Ahh, war/expansion/imperialism...

94. The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan

Blah blah blah, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, blah blah blah...

95. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

If a big green dude walks into your place and challenges you to whatever, tell him that you appreciate that he thought of you, but you're just gonna have to say NO, THANKS.

96. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Our brains are a big mish-mash, full of thoughts and bits of thoughts, signifying. ..not a whole hell of a lot, actually.

97. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Everyone's got a doppelganger, but it doesn't mean that you have to go to the guillotine for them, jeez.

98. Joyland by Stephen King- Apparently, only little boys can see dead people.

(And a big thank you to Stella Weng (@ghobubo) for these last two!)

99. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck- When the guy is really big & dumb, don't let him touch your hair!

100. The Trial by Franz Kafka-Relax, you're not paranoid...they are SO after you!

(the first 30 were posted on Book Riot 7/30/13)

1 comment:

  1. This is a very good idea. I think I've saved 120 hours not reading the Proust alone. Multiplied by others on the list and I've saved enough time to go live in Tahiti for a few years!