thug notes: a new take on old books

(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:







Other Thug Notes cover Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies, and Hamlet (yay! Shakespeare!)  I’ll keep watching, and I hope you will, too.



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