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Short Form Summer Reading Summaries

by flickr user sara. nel
Whether you’re a librarian, a parent, or procrastinator not too proud to admit it, you’re probably familiar with the question that comes up around this time of year regarding assigned summer reading. Not just panicked students requesting the books they need, but the slightly desperate plea, “What is this book about?” We put the question to the collective mind of our Hub bloggers, with the added challenge to summarize familiar summer reading classics in the shortest form possible. Here is a round-up of the quirky, clever, and funny responses we got:

From Sarah Debraski with an assist from Paul, some great haiku

The only thing you
need to know is Big Brother
is always watching
(1984 by George Orwell)

And but so there’s drugs
and tennis and big words and
a film that causes
(Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace)

Cocaine and fast cars
Money and lies all add up
It’s the Eighties, man.
(Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis)

Run away and float
on a raft down the river
with a slave named Jim
(The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)

Railroads, tin mines, work
Titans of industry, BUT
Only for oneself
(Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand)

Prep school, runaway
Central Park and shrinks
Most are just phony
(The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger)

Nouveau riche parties.
Infidelities. It’s so
Not for high schoolers
(The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Some quick words of wisdom from Mark Flowers

Spoiler alert: everyone dies.
(Shakespeare’s tragedies)

Don’t be fooled: there’s no Trojan horse! Just a lot of bloody, bloody battle scenes.
(Homer’s The Iliad)

Prep school boys lost on an island do despicable things to each other, and fulfill their author’s pessimistic philosophy of life.
(Lord of the Flies by William Golding)

Don’t worry, no one else knows what it’s about either.
(Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce)

The whale is, like, an allegory or something, man.
(Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

If you’re smart enough to argue that you shouldn’t have to read this over summer vacation, you prove you’re smart enough to read it, so they’ll make you do it anyway. If you’re crazy enough to read it, you prove you were smart enough to read it. That’s the catch.
(Catch-22 by Joseph Heller)

A haiku dedicated to Hemingway by Mia Cabana

Noble death, brave stuff
Sports war Spain war Love Sucks war
Sun Also Rises.

And a 6-word memoir for Anna Karenina

“Look out for that train, Anna”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley as a tweet of 140 characters by Laura Perenic

Conditioned citizens of future France drugged by overbearing government. Unable to see truth their dehumanized world, happiness is forfeited to stability.

Maria Kramer may have summed it up best: “Abundant fanfiction leads to overdue books. :-(”

What books are you trying to finish by back to school time? Share your own short-form summaries in the comments section!

— Compiled by Mia Cabana, currently reading Fire by Kristin Cashore


  1. […] love the Hub’s take on short form book summaries, including some via haiku. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  2. Meghan Meghan

    Thank you for this great post! What a fun idea.

  3. Bethany Bethany

    Very nice! I noticed many of these are also banned books. This would be a neat idea for a Banned Books Week or Teen Read Week activity. :)

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