Bad Book Descriptions

For a few months while I worked as an editor, my sole job was to come up with book summaries. You know the kind – like the blurbs on the back of the book that are supposed to convince you to buy it by telling you what it’s about, but without any spoilers. And since the ones I was working on were going to be used in even smaller spaces, they were usually only a few sentences long.

I got to thinking this morning (in the shower, of course. All good thinking happens in the shower) that you could completely ruin a story by accurately describing just the wrong parts of a book. For example, Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful story about finding love beneath the shallow appearance of a person. Unless you make it about Stockholm Syndrome. Then it gets pretty creepy pretty fast.

So here’s what I came up with today.

Twilight
A high-schooler goes to prom with an old man.

Jane Eyre
A teenage girl falls in love with her employer, but flees when he tries to make her his polygamous wife. All ends happily after his first wife sets herself on fire.

Dracula
A real-estate agent and his wife consult professional help in their fear of close contact with a dead body.

To Kill a Mockingbird
A group of children learn about rape and make fun of a handicapped man, who stabs a man with an aversion to giant ham.

Lord of the Flies
English schoolboys form rival gangs and beat each other up.

The Outsiders
High school students team up to hate each other collectively.

Hamlet
A man fakes insanity in an unsuccessful effort to solve his family problems.

Romeo and Juliet
Two teenagers fall in love and then die.

The Awakening
A repressed woman dies of feminism.

A Christmas Carol
Vivid hallucinations greatly improve the character of an old miser.

Peter Pan
Vindictive pirates fight the perpetually immature.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
An ugly man falls in love with a 16-year-old, who is killed for refusing to sleep with a clergyman.

Of Mice and Men
A man shoots his best friend after promising to buy him a rabbit.

Frankenstein
After refusing to act as a wing-man, a scientist finds his family at the mercy of a serial killer.

The Count of Monte Cristo
A man ruins his life to get back at the man who ruined his life.

Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees
An unsuccessful thief is shot at by his friend after getting high as a kite.

The Little Prince
A stifled artist discovers that imagination is more valuable than desert survival skills.

Alice in Wonderland
A little girl follows a rabbit through a series of near-death experiences.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A young man decides to burn in Hell rather than return to school.

Moby-Dick
A crippled sea captain refuses to learn from his mistakes.

The Hunger Games
A teenage girl beats the government system by dating her rival.

The Lord of the Rings
A group of old men overcome racial differences to take on the world’s most powerful jeweler.

Jurassic Park
Futuristic zoo owners learn the value of a good electrician.

The Three Musketeers
Vigilantes embark on a murderous spree to protect the reputation of an unfaithful woman.

1984
A man pursues an illicit love affair and narrowly escapes being eaten by rats.

The Scarlet Letter
Guilt causes a miraculous skin condition in an adulterer.

The Scarlet Pimpernel
All of France is fooled by terrible disguises and thinly-veiled poetry.

The Giver
A 12-year-old misfit realizes he is not colorblind and steals a baby to escape the dangers of Communism.

Beowulf
Drunken revelers kill off an endangered species.

Holes
A desert harlot starts a slave-labor camp.

Ender’s Game
8-year-old commits genocide.

Sherlock Holmes
Eccentric drug addict makes condescending remarks to policemen.

What are your favorite books? ♥

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5 thoughts on “Bad Book Descriptions

  1. I love it! I came across a similar topic awhile back where book summaries were written in “click-bait headline” style. It’s amazing (and kind of scary) how easily your perception of a story can be changed by the wording of a summary!

  2. Based on your description, I would totally read Huckleberry Finn in a heartbeat! And I don’t care what you say, I still love “Jane Eyre” (even though your description is pretty much accurate)!

    • Everyone should read Huckleberry Finn in a heartbeat, in my humble opinion. And I’ll admit, I just finished Jane Eyre and I liked it much better this time around. She’s still kind of a doormat, though.

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