The Daily


The High School Literature Zodiac

November 27, 2013 | by

What does your favorite book from high school tell you about your life?


Tim Taranto hails from Upstate New York and attended Cornell. In addition to The Paris Review Daily, his work has appeared on the Rumpus and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Tim lives in Iowa City, where he is studying fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.




  1. Andréa Ford | November 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve never heard or read that Oswald was carrying The Catcher in the Rye when he shot JFK (Chapman’s murder of John Lennon, yes). But where is the evidence involving Oswald and the JFK assassination?

  2. Lauren Foley | November 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm


  3. Jennifer | November 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    A Tale of Two Cities: for the wanderer!

  4. Dom | November 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Ditch the linkbait. You’re better than it.

  5. Andrea | November 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I feel like even the horoscopes in the back of a magazine are better than this.

  6. Peter | November 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Isaac Babel wrote Red Cavalry Stories, not Red Calvary Stories (which would presumably involve Communists on Golgotha). Even linkbait should be proofread.

  7. J | November 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Speaking of proofreading, I hope Iowa teaches you how to use “who” and “whom” correctly (To Kill a Mockingbird).

  8. Jennifer | November 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Gravity’s Rainbow?

  9. P. | November 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I’ll just go ahead and assume that the proofreader took an early Thanksgiving break. Slide 5: “the subject of which being”? Really? I can’t laugh when my editor eyes are crying.

  10. K | November 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I was prepared to enjoy this, but unfortunately, these “horoscopes” sound as though they are based on stereotypes of these books/authors and have no foundation in what the book is actually about. Nice concept, though. Also, some fact-checking would have been helpful (along with proofreading) for the historical references, which sound inaccurate and perhaps too lightly thrown (again, based on stereotypes/rumors?).

  11. LA | November 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    “students whom couldn’t care less”? Seriously?

  12. TG | November 27, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Mark David Chapman carried Catcher in the Rye when he shot John Lennon.

    The Warren Commission Report on the JFK Assassination mentions several books Lee Harvey Oswald apparently read (such as Animal Farm, 1984, and Das Kapital) but makes no mention of Catcher In The Rye…

    Perhaps the author confused the assassins with three part names?

  13. Lizaio | November 28, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Literary types don’t usually appreciate generalizations about classic literature. Maybe the author of this article is still in high school himself? What a wasted opportunity.

  14. Joe | November 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Lizaio is absolutely right. People who have read and loved these books are not likely to find this clever or funny. I feel bad about the avalanche of negative comments, because most items on this blog are delightful and no one takes the time to say “Bravo.”

  15. mistah charley, ph.d. | November 28, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Wo ist Schlachthof-Fünf?

  16. Rolf Yngve | November 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Mispelled “Cavalry”. Unless Babel wrote something about Christ I failed to read.

  17. m | November 29, 2013 at 1:23 am

    Andrea…you are quite right! With even a few minutes more thought my child could have come with a wittier, funnier, extended version of these.

  18. Michael Zunenshine | November 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

    A Separate Peace

  19. marilyn blanche | November 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    so disappointed to not see Ethan Frome or Wuthering Heights

  20. Sarah | December 4, 2013 at 9:40 am

    These are kind of more middle school books, IMO

  21. x | December 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Stupid. I clicked because the article was from the Paris Review, but it was just the usual internet slop.

  22. x | December 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Stupid. I clicked because the article was from the Paris Review, but it was just the usual internet slop.

    P.S.: Paris Review, you’re f***ing with your brand with this kind of s**t.

  23. Virginia Llorca | December 19, 2013 at 2:32 am

    What a bunch a snobs. . .

  24. kat | December 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    “The Paris Review” does not fact check? Gerald Posner’s “Case Closed” indicates mentions several books Oswald read (or pretended to read) including “Das Kapital” and “Mein Kampf”. He checked out many books from the library of the spy/crime variety. Posner’s book doesn’t mention “Catcher in the Rye” especially not as being present on the day of JFK’s assasination. Hinkley and Chapman both read the book but so have millions of others…

  25. lyuba | April 2, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    My favorite book from high school was The Grapes of Wrath.

  26. bob | April 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I invariably hate the Comments after almost everything because they’re so often vitriolic, but I have to go so far as to say I’m very disappointed in The Paris Review for posting this lame veritably ignorant, apparently unedited attempt at humor. And not even the people who have commented so far seem to know that it wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald but John Lennon’s assassin Mark David Chapman who, obsessed with Catcher in the Rye and Holden Caulfield, was indeed carrying a copy of the book. (See Always check your facts, Timothy…and hang in there!

  27. Bob | April 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Sorry, Andrea. I guess you knew.

6 Pingbacks

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