(hat tip to Mary Robinette Kowal)
When I was in high school and college, I sometimes found it difficult to appreciate certain classics. Great Expectations did nothing for me; likewise for Crime and Punishment. Sometimes, it was just the book itself: they may be “classics,” but that doesn’t mean they’re that interesting to read. Or, as my late father-in-law used to say: “Moby Dick is incredibly significant. Incredibly BORING, but incredibly significant.”
Aint’ nobody got time for that (source)
Often, though, what made it difficult for me to appreciate a book was how it was presented to me. I had one prof who spent an entire semester reading Shakespeare plays to us. Each entire play. Every line. And stopping every now and then to comment. It looked like I was taking notes in class, but actually I was writing up adventures for the next weekend’s D&D game. And I really like Shakespeare (King Lear’s my favorite).
So I was pleasantly surprised at being introduced (again, thanks to MRK) to Thug Notes, a Youtube “comedy” series. Each Thug Notes episode provides a summary of a literary classic, then analysis of its main themes, motifs, etc. Presented with animation and in 5 minutes or less—and the commentary is FAR from pretentious or boring.
I put “comedy” in quotes because in addition to being funny on several levels, Thug Notes’ analysis is keen and spot-on. I have a Master’s Degree in English Lit, but I often learn something new. Thug Notes is a relatively new series, but they’ve already covered quite a few books, with more every week.
Rather than ramble on about Thug Notes, let me present some of the sci-fi/fantasy episodes for your enjoyment and education: