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How to Become Ridiculously Well-read in One Evening: A Collection of Literary Encapsulations

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  48 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Humorous poems summarize great works of literature by Jane Austen, Anthony Burgess, Miguel de Cervantes, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Henrik Ibsen, James Joyce, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Solzhenitsyn.
Paperback, 188 pages
Published April 7th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1985)
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Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humour, lit-crit
This takes over 100 classic works of literature and summarises each in a few paragraphs, often as a pastiche of the work itself. Most are poems of some sort (free verse, sonnets, plays, , limericks and others), but there are letters, diary entries, straight prose, and Kafka's Metamorphosis is rendered as the lyrics to a blues song.

The irony is that, in contradiction of the title, you can really only appreciate the entries if you are familiar with the work it parodies.

Clever, funny, surprising an
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with a love of literature and a sense of humour
Recommended to Mark by: My second hand book shop guardian angel
Shelves: spoof, comic-work
Its does exactly what it says on the tin. Very funny collection of spoofs and take offs of various works ranging from Beowulf and assorted Shakespeare up to the present day. Well not quite, my copy, picked up in a second hand book shop, was printed in 1985 so there is a huge source of pretension and 'up-its-=own-arseness' that has not yet been tapped. Think of all the dross you have had inflicted upon you written since then and all the good stuff too and you can see what fun a new edition could ...more
Funny synopses/alternate versions of classics everyone "should" read/know.
I had to give up on this one. It's meant to be brief synopses of classics, so you supposedly don't have to read the books yourself, but they really only make sense if you've already read the books. Plus, most of the synopses had the same format -- usually written as a poem, either a limerick or with a standard ABAB rhyme scheme. It got boring after the first few pages.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Love the idea behind the book, not too fond of all the poems, but some of them are quite neat.
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I picked this up from the book buffet at the 2016 BookCrossing Anniversary Convention in Athens because I thought it would provide some light reading on my trip. I was not able to get into it during my travels because it was just too offbeat. When I needed a distraction from my other books, though, and wanted to stick with this month's reading theme of numbers, I snagged it off the shelf.

The little encapsulations of the books were likely not intended to really educate those who haven't read the
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic, poetry, humor
I can't believe I kept this book for 30 years.

I am slowly reading or re-reading all the books that are laying around my house and reviewing them. It's hard for me to imagine I would have considered this all that witty even 30 years ago. Maybe I liked the concept more than I liked the actual content. It would have appealed to the English major in me. In any event, I found it dull this time around.
C Moore
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Many of these selections are mediocre Sparknotes-level parody/summary/adaptations, but there are some true gems here, like "The Crucible," "Great Expectations," "The Odyssey," "A Christmas Carol," and "Frankenstein." For what it is, this can be a very enjoyable read. (Spent an hour this evening taking turns reading with my girlfriend, and we enjoyed ourselves!)
Oct 09, 2008 rated it liked it
A good pick-up-put-down book, the title is deceptive -- to really enjoy it, you need to have read the book before reading the "encapsulation," which is a short poem, dialog, or blurb relating to the book. Would make a good present for the (other) well-read person in your life.
Celeste Ng
Jun 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
I think the title says it all. "Lolita" in alliterative newspaper headlines; "Jayne Eyre" in limericks, and plenty of other parodies. The more you've read, the funnier these are.

Dec 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Cute. Bunches of limericks summarizing the classics. Meant as humor, though, not a serious way to cram through Western literature in one night.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Far better off with SparkNotes.
Some of the encapsulations were funny and/or entertaining, but would really only make sense if you've already read the associated book.
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