15 Books Every English Major Hates – A Rebellion Against Literary Canon

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This listicle is here to commiserate with you on the 15 books every English major hates whether secretly (or not-so-secretly). As an English major you’ve probably encountered some reads that made you question your life choices. So, grab your favorite reading glasses, and let’s embark on this literary journey of love and loathing.

“Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville

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Call me Ishmael, but English majors often find themselves callously cast into the abyss of nautical jargon and whale obsessions. Ahab’s pursuit of the elusive Moby Dick can feel like chasing a high school crush – unattainable and somewhat exhausting.

“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

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This epic poem might have “paradise” in the title, but for many English majors, it’s more like paradise lost reading page after page of dense theological debates and archaic language. The struggle to decipher Satan’s motivations can be as bewildering as a freshman navigating a campus map.

“Ulysses” by James Joyce

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James Joyce’s masterpiece is often celebrated for its complexity, but English majors may find themselves drowning in its stream-of-consciousness narrative and perplexing wordplay. It’s like deciphering a cryptic crossword puzzle where every answer leads to more questions.

“Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce

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If Ulysses felt like a linguistic rollercoaster, then Finnegans Wake is the dizzying loop-de-loop that leaves English majors questioning reality itself. Unraveling Joyce’s linguistic acrobatics can feel like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

“The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Middle English, anyone? Chaucer’s tales might be timeless, but deciphering the original language feels like being thrown into a linguistic time machine without a manual. English majors often long for a modern-day translation to avoid feeling like they’re lost in translation.

“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand’s philosophical magnum opus can be a tough pill to swallow for English majors who prefer character development over lengthy speeches on individualism. Reading this tome can feel like being stuck in a never-ending debate with a passionate friend who refuses to let you get a word in edgewise.

“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter might symbolize shame, but for some English majors, the real shame lies in wading through Hawthorne’s verbose prose. The scarlet “A” might as well stand for “archaic language” as students navigate through sentences longer than a Sunday sermon.

“Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace

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David Foster Wallace’s opus can be a marathon for English majors, with footnotes longer than some novels. The struggle to keep up with the myriad plotlines and intricate narrative structure is like attempting to juggle flaming torches – thrilling but ultimately a bit hazardous.

“The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner

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Faulkner’s exploration of Southern gothic themes might leave some English majors feeling as disoriented as the Compson family themselves. Navigating through time jumps and shifting perspectives can be like trying to solve a literary Rubik’s Cube with missing pieces.

“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

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While this classic novel tackles important social issues, English majors might find themselves trudging through the metaphorical Dust Bowl of descriptive prose. The journey with the Joad family is like a cross-country road trip with frequent detours through thesaurus land.

“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad

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Exploring the depths of the Congo River can be as challenging as navigating Conrad’s dense symbolism. English majors might find themselves lost in the heart of literary darkness, grappling with the unsettling colonial themes that mirror a dimly lit academic corridor.

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

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Holden Caulfield’s angst might resonate with some, but for English majors, the repetitive rants and colloquial language can feel like being stuck in a never-ending therapy session. Decoding Holden’s disdain for phonies is like solving a psychological puzzle without all the pieces.

“The Iliad” by Homer

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Image credits: Depositphotos kues

The Trojan War epic might be a cornerstone of classical literature, but for English majors, deciphering the Greek names and battles can feel like a Herculean task. It’s a literary battlefield where even the gods can’t save you from getting lost in the details.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

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While the magical realism in Márquez’s masterpiece is enchanting, English majors may feel like they’ve fallen down a literary rabbit hole. Keeping track of multiple generations of the Buendía family can be as challenging as remembering the names of distant relatives at a family reunion.

“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Hold on, hobbits! While Tolkien’s world-building is celebrated, English majors may struggle with the extensive lore and multiple character arcs. The quest for the One Ring can feel like a semester-long journey through Middle-earth, complete with fellowship-induced nostalgia.

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