The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther is a semi-fictional book consisting of letters written by Werther to his friend Wilhelm about him creeping on a girl named Charlotte.

This book was written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1774. But even today, it is every bit as unbearable as reading your emo cousin's tumblr. Some things never change.

Charlotte was right to give him the gun.


The Crying of Lot 49

The Crying of Lot 49 is a novella by Thomas Pynchon. Here is a photograph of Thomas Pynchon:

This book is thin. Like most purchasers of this book, I bought it at the SFO bookstore because I wanted the person next to me on the plane to think I was literary and obscure but I didn't want to carry anything too heavy.

This book exists to be clever. It is a series of clever ideas loosely chained into the beginnings of a story. It basks in this cleverness for 120 unbearably slow pages until it ends with a terrible cliffhanger.


Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a little over 750 pages in most editions.

It begins with 100 pages of accessible, exciting narrative. The first paragraph among the best in any novel I've read.

It ends with 100 pages of equally exciting narrative, right through the final moment.

The middle 500-odd pages is basically It's a collection of some guy's 1850's thinkpieces on whales and whale-adjacent topics. But given that it was written 165 years ago, there's a bit more whale phrenology content than is perhaps strictly necessary.