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I’ve Never Read These Books But Here’s What I’m Guessing They’re About

For a lot of people, their reading careers begin and end in high school. The works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, William Shakespeare, and a bunch of other white guys are piled on them until they believe there’s no other type of literature besides the kind that are allegedly well-written and conclusively boring.


But sometimes these books (a.k.a. literary canon) slip on by. There are a number of books it seems like everybody who graduated from high school besides me read. But I’ve heard about them through the grapevine, rumors and hearsay. I don’t plan on reading these books at this point because I’m pretty sure I know exactly what they’re about. Here are a few books I’ve heard so much about I think I probably know their stories.


1. Animal Farm by George Orwell


Animal Farm

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George Orwell’s classic has been read by high schoolers worldwide, and I’ve been told it has something to do with communism. Going off the title and what I know about communism, here’s what I think this book is about:


A bunch of animals live on a farm. They’re probably farm animals. I would guess pigs, chickens, and maybe some cows. Since it has something to do with communism, I’d say the animals have to share what they produce. So this book probably follows a hen who lays some eggs. A cow makes a bunch of milk. The hen takes some of the cow’s milk, and the cow takes some of the hen’s eggs. They then realize they want back what they respectively produced, but the farmer gets involved, things go awry, and a revolution happens. The book ends with the animals making an omelette that includes all of the farm’s produce.


2. 1984 by George Orwell



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Here’s another Orwellian classic sixteen-year-old me was not provided with. As far as I know, Orwell skipped farm animals this time around and went after the 1980s. Also, I know Big Brother is involved. Here’s what I’m guessing 1984 is about:


This high schooler living in 1984 just wants a new Stratocaster like his hero, Eddie Van Halen. But, just as he saves up enough money to buy a new axe, Big Brother (i.e. his older brother) spies on him and finds where he’s hidden his savings. Big Brother then takes the high schooler’s money and uses it to update his wardrobe to impress a girl. The little brother then takes it upon himself to ruin Big Brother’s first date with this dream girl, which happens at the junior prom. It’s like a John Hughes movie set when? In 1984, of course.


3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut



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I’ve read The Sirens of Titan so I’m not as lost with Vonnegut as I am with Orwell. But, still, the plot of Slaughterhouse-Five has been delivered to me secondhand, and probably by people who only read half the book. Here’s what I think it’s about:


In a world where time travel exists, a man named Billy Pilgrim is a butcher on the run. He’s on the run from ravenous alien hunters who hunt people named Billy. As a cosmic butcher, Billy’s only hope is to travel between the galactic hubs called slaughterhouses. He goes from slaughterhouses one to four searching for safety from his alien hunters, but to no avail. His only hope is to try Slaughterhouse-Five, which nobody’s heard from in several thousand years. What will Billy Pilgrim find at the final cosmic slaughterhouse?


4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway


The Old Man and the sea

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I once did a presentation on Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” so you can say I’m something of a Hemingway expert. Also, I saw Midnight in Paris (not bragging). I get the impression the title explains quite a bit of the plot, so, in the sparse style of Hemingway, here’s my impression of this book’s plot:


An old man goes fishing. Also, he drinks a lot. Probably says something misogynistic.


5. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien


The Things They Carried

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This one I’ve heard has to do with Vietnam and it’s quite touching. It’s either a very understated, dramatic title or one O’Brien came up with right before he sent the manuscript to his editor. Here’s the plot:


Set during the Vietnam War, a battalion of American soldiers are stuck in Vietnam, all communication cut off from base camp. They’re deep in enemy territory. Each soldier has a distinct personality and something back in America they have to get back to. Also, they each carry something, such as backpacks, guns, and canteens. But, it becomes clear as the stakes rise, that the heaviest things these soldiers carry are not on their backs…but in their minds.


Feature Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash