Review: One Hundred Great Books in Haiku by David Bader

In the sixteenth century, Japanese monks developed the haiku, a poem consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables. Now, in “The Loose Canon”, David Bader applies this ancient poetic form to “100 Great Books”.

From Homer to Milton to Dostoyevsky, the entire literary canon is finally within reach of even the shortest attention spans. The formal requirements of the haiku have, admittedly, necessitated a few cuts, such as characters, plot, dialogue and descriptive passages. Still, these are small sacrifices in view of the huge savings in time and shelf space.

Avoid eyestrain and deforestation and show off your literary prowess at parties. It’s the perfect gift for today’s busy reader.


It’s not often I read humour. Not because I don’t have a sense of humour, but because it’s more… selective. So when I pick up a book categorised as humour, I appreciate it all the more when it’s capable of getting a chuckle out of me. One Hundred Great Books in Haiku very easily got several chuckles and a laugh from me.

I’m quite happy I began this year’s reading with One Hundred Great Books. Sure it took less than half an hour to get through, but some of the shortest reads are amongst the best. It does help that I love Haiku and condensing classic literature, something I also enjoy, into Haiku seems like it might be hit or miss, but in this case it’s a hit.

I haven’t read all the books listed, but what I have read ended up being the source of either a very amusing haiku or a very good point, and a lot of what I haven’t read are now books I want to look into. Well, maybe except for Jane Austen… The haiku interpretations are not only limited to the more long-winded classics either with Brave New World for example. Although the longer ones are used and there are the more chunkier classics, such as War and Peace, which I’m far more impressed with when it comes to turning them into Haiku and the poem making sense.

I think One Hundred Great Books in Haiku is great for both reading straight through, like I did, or being picked up and reading a page at random from time to time, which is something I plan on doing from now on.

  • Genre: Haiku – Humour
  • Demographic: Classic Lit lovers with a sense of humour
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Find At: The Book DepositoryAmazon
  • Published: 2005

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