Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beowulf on the Beach

Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature’s 50 Greatest Hits
By Jack Murnighan
Three Rivers Press, 2009. 374 pages. Nonfiction

Writer and professor Jack Murnighan says it’s time to give literature another look, but this time you’ll enjoy yourself. With a little help, you’ll see just how great the great books are: how they can make you laugh, moisten your eyes, and leave you awestruck and deeply moved. Beowulf on the Beach is your field guide 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, What’s Sexy, and What to Skip.

This book is probably most appealing to people who are already lovers of classic literature and would be little help for a non-reader looking for a quick summary of storylines. Although I rarely agreed with Murnighan’s What to Skip recommendations—the first chapters of Jane Eyre? the last chapters of Pride and Prejudice? really?—I did enjoy reminiscing over my favorite classic literature, and learning more about books I haven’t yet read, with someone who clearly enjoys reading the classics as well.


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