Your mom, teacher, or librarian has probably told you plenty of times not to judge a book by its cover. But there’s a very important corollary to that law: Don’t judge a book by its title. Because while some get right to the point—hey, Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping!—others can be a little misleading. We rounded up a few literary works that you shouldn’t read without an appreciation of irony and sarcasm. Seriously guys, inflection is everything.
This Side of Paradise
Even if you’ve only read The Great Gatsby, you know F. Scott Fitzgerald isn’t exactly big on happy endings. Which is why it’s unsurprising that his version of “paradise” involves a lot more death and rejection than harps and waterslides.
This old Hollywood tell-all book by Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina is notable mainly for spawning a movie where a scary lady (who looked a lot like this) screamed, “Nooo wireeee hangersssss!” Needless to say, the mom in question was far from “dearest.”
Breakfast of Champions
Finally a book about America’s favorite bran cereal. Man, there’s probably going to be a little kid in it who wants to be the world’s youngest trampoline dodgeball champion, and so he just starts eating a whole bunch of Wheaties, and then—wait, what’s that? “Breakfast of Champions” is what the waitress in this book calls the martinis she serves her depressed customers? Oh...well does she at least play trampoline dodgeball?
The House of Mirth
Here’s a quick survey of what happens in the saga of Lily Bart: scheming, backstabbing, disinheritance, poverty, and overdoses. Don’t believe Edith Wharton’s lies; there is NOTHING mirthful about this house.
City of God
Put aside the fact that City of God is the actual name of the neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro where this book takes place. If you tried to tell the child gangsters in this story that their crime-ridden slums were the dwelling place of a benevolent higher power, they’d probably pull a gun on you say that’s a funny joke!
This is Noel Coward, so at first glance, you could buy him (aptly) naming a play about a witty ghost who goes to society parties “Blithe Spirit.” But, while Elvira makes her fair share of pithy remarks, she also devotes all her time to attempted murder, making her not so much blithe as terrifying.
Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
Let’s just read the plot summary for this one, shall we? A detective gets called away from his family on Christmas Eve to take care of a “horrific hostage situation” that’s “quickly spiraling out of control.” Right. So in this case, saying, “Merry Christmas, Alex Cross,” is kinda like saying, “Happy birthday, guy whose birthday cake I just set on fire.”
The Divine Comedy
There are episodes of Franklin and Bash with more laughs.
What’s the most “sarcastic” book title you’ve ever read?