Animal Farm, by George Orwell

5 Stars

Can I read this to my children as a bedtime story? I mean, how fucked up, exactly, would that be?

animal farm

This book reminded me of the 9th grade assignment I had to write an existing classical novel as a children’s book. Apparently, my photo of a teddy bear in a noose was “inappropriate” for grade school students. Well, excuse me for the sins of Hester Prynne.

I do actually have a bone to pick with my public high school, though. Why the hell was I reading The Great Gatsby, when I could’ve been reading Animal Farm? Maybe it’s a librarian fail, but I feel trading the beauty of language for a Communist fairytale is a pretty sweet deal. I’d much rather write an essay about the lessons learned in Animal Farm. For instance:

Plan A: Educate yourself and seize control as swiftly as possible, by nefarious means, because the other guy ain’t playing nice.
Plan B: Defect and defect quickly. Loyalty is no one’s friend.
Plan C: Confess to a crime punishable by death, because fuck it.

I loved this book. It was brilliant with the intended focus of Communist Russia and it was eerily relatable when read with our current American political parties in mind. I can’t believe I wasn’t required to read this in my AP literature class or my government class. High five American public schools. High five.

I was only half kidding about the bedtime story.

Review Word Count: 239


The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3 Stars


Every time I reread a book I was forced to read in high school, I have one of two thoughts:

No wonder they made me read this!

…or in the case of The Great Gatsby..

No wonder I looked up the SparkNotes!

This book is beautifully written. The language and imagery practically define modern classic, making it obvious why we were forced to read it in the 11th grade. The portrayal of 1920’s materialism and the self-absorption of the upper class is both believable and insufferable. Jay Gatsby, himself, is a depressingly realistic portrayal of a man in love with an undeserving fantasy, yet unwilling to settle for less. We see him in every time period, the hero tossed aside for the villain, mourned only by the narrator. In this case, that’s Nick Carraway, who proves redemption is possible in the eleventh hour. Then there’s Daisy.

Daisy… well, Daisy was a hopeless cunt. I know. I know. We don’t use the c-word when reviewing classic literature, but it fits every other character, as well. No matter how gorgeously written, I just cannot enjoy reading about a cast of hopeless cunts, even if that is the point. I also wanted to shoot Gatsby myself by his 44th “old sport.” While intentional, the repetitiveness was distracting. Ultimately, I hated this book just as much at 27 as I did at 17. The best ending would’ve been for Gatsby to serve Kool-Aid laced with cyanide at one of his glorious parties. I’d read that fanfiction.

Review Word Count: 249