Here’s how to tell. When you come across those "100 Greatest Books of All Time" lists are you shocked to discover that you’ve only read three? Or maybe you’ve read ten, but can’t remember anything except carriage rides, bonnets, and couples exchanging meaningful glances over embroidery.
Anyway, if this sounds like you, and it probably does, you will likely respond in one of two ways:
1. With shame and self-loathing (especially if you were an English major, as was this Classics Slacker). To cope with these feelings, you pour a large glass of wine and, instead of reading something—anything—you watch When Harry Met Sally or The Princess Bride for the 103rd time.
2. With renewed ambition. You drive to your nearest Goodwill and buy a handful of books that reliably appear on Greatest Books lists, such as Ulysses, Moby Dick, War and Peace, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, etc., etc., etc. (That’s the Latin abbreviation for “wow, how many of these books are there, anyway?”) Back home, you slide them onto your bookshelf, assuming you have one. There they will taunt you every day, increasing your already Les Miserables-sized self-contempt to the height and width of the British Library.
But no more, my fellow well-intentioned, literature-impaired friends! There is another way! The Classics Slacker is reading the classics so you don’t have to. No longer will you feel unworthy, uneasy, and a little bit nauseous every time you encounter a Great Books list.
How does it work? Say you never read Moby Dick, the first book covered in the Classics Slacker series. Or you tried to, but you fell asleep right after “Call me Ishmael.” So did the Classics Slacker. But after waking up, The Classics Slacker reopened the book, forged ahead, and summarized everything you need to know about Moby Dick.