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Got a Minute? Why Not Read Moby Dick

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Have you ever wonted to read a classic work but not had the time to finish it? Have I got a deal for you.

I’ve just been introduced to a site that offers ultra-condensed editions of well-known books. They’re so short that they even fit on a single screen on my Sony Reader Wifi. I have The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy at right, in case you’re interested.

I’ve looked over the site, and they have a couple hundred titles there spread across a number of genres, including SF, fantasy, children, and young adult books. One title I found particularly amusing was Fahrenheit 451. If you’re familiar with that novel then you should appreciate the multi-layered joke created by condensing it. The collection include both public domain classics and books still under copyright.

This is really only intended as a joke, of course. If you browse the site you’ll see that the books are so condensed that they lose all meaning. But there are a couple titles that actually make more sense after being condensed. For example, The Collected Works of Piers Anthony was condensed down to:

I’m Piers Anthony. I can write nonsense and sell it.

And then there are The Collected Work of Isaac Asimov. This one is mostly not true, but it’s funny none the less:

Stock Asimov Character #1: I’m a suave, witty, brilliant, good-looking scientist. I am everything Asimov thought he was.

Stock Asimov Character #2: I am the same, except the opposite sex.

Stock Asimov Character #1: Great! Let’s do some science stuff, save the world, and make out.
(They do.)


And then there is Moll Flanders, the collected works of Jane Austen, and other classic titles. I’m leaving them for you to find and snicker over. This site is definitely worth a few minutes of your time. And when you get done with the condensed books, check out the condensed movies.

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Graham October 26, 2011 um 10:16 am

There’s also John Crace’s Digested Read column on the website of British newspaper the Guardian:

And Woody Allen’s joke:

I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

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