Out with the old, in with the new: a Gen Z-millennial hybrid brings you an unwanted perspective on several ‘classics’ written by – you guessed it – white men.

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy (1869)

This book is impossible to read. Do not believe anyone who tells you they have read it. Within minutes you’ll be perplexed by the sheer number of Rostovs, Bezukhovs and Bolkonskys, and if you make it through that, you’ll be rewarded with another truckload of new characters. Look – I’m sure there’s something to it, I just don’t intend to find out what.

1/5

On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957)

Another tremendous bore. Does not deserve its association with an entire generation. My dad loves it though.

0/5

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Gatsby was the original simp, which is partly what made this book a classic. Daisy is hugely underrated. Nick is annoying. However, gay rights. 

4/5

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway (1940)

The near-constant commentary on the shape of Maria’s breasts was quite jarring (why do male authors always do this? Why do they always describe them as triangular??)

Nevertheless, I’m impressed that Hemingway held my attention for nearly five hundred pages of people sitting in caves.

5/5

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1932)

There’s nothing wrong with making your protagonist unlikeable – we all love an anti-hero – but it’s another thing to make them downright tedious. Don’t name a character after Karl Marx unless they’re going to actually do something. 

2/5

Catch-22, Joseph Heller (1961)

Without a doubt, one of the dullest books out there. There’s no damned if you do, damned if you don’t: Just. Don’t. Read. It. You already know what the phrase means, anyway.

0/5

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl (1964)

Okay, this book isn’t a classic – yet. But it has already had an undeniable influence on modern pop culture (see: 10% of the content on TikTok). Also, Grandpa Joe being bedridden for 20 years and then suddenly reviving for chocolate is deeply inspirational. 

3/5 

Paradise Lost, John Milton (1667)

It’s not a novel, it’s not even prose, but I had to put it in, because this slaps hard. You don’t expect it to, but it does. Admittedly, not an easy read, but worth it when you re-pledge your allegiance to radical feminism on account of how fucking irritating Adam is. Also, Satan is sexy here. 

4/5

 

This piece appeared in CG Issue 80