Here's my one sentence review: this book is so hilarious, it's coming with me to the delivery room for when I need a laugh. (My midwife says laughing helps relieve pain and anxiety).
This deliciously irreverent volume re-imagines classic and favorite books, poems, and authors from Western literature and recasts them as a series of text messages. Featuring over sixty pieces, each just a few pages long, characters and story arcs are distilled into snarky, silly, and sublime extremes: Rochester is a passionate suitor who <a href="http://thehairpin.com/2012/07/texts-from-jane-eyre">texts in all caps</a>; Ned Nickerson keeps harassing Nancy Drew while she works on her investigations; Byron and Hamlet are laughably pathetic while <a href="http://textsfromjaneeyre.com/#excerpt">Circe</a> and Scarlett O'Hara are delusional divas.
Although I'm familiar with many (but not all) of the works featured, I found everything laugh-out-loud funny. My wife and I took turns reading this aloud to each other, but had to quit because we literally couldn't breathe at certain points, and I do truly intend to bring this into the delivery room with me because I can't not read Henry David Thoreau without dissolving into hysterics every time.
Ortberg takes what is absurd about our favorite characters and authors and emphasizes it in ways I think many readers already have. The <a href="http://textsfromjaneeyre.com/#interview">inspiration</a> for this book came from a piece on The Hairpin, when someone commented that her small town life was like <i>Gone With the Wind</i> but with cell phones. The format works because we all know people (or have read transcripts) of text messages so self-absorbed and so ludicrous, one can't help but laugh.
Fans of humor sites like Damn You Auto Correct! and The Toast will love this, as well as lit fans who don't mind their beloved classics being played with. This is a fun volume to have on hand for dinner parties or on the nightstand -- it's easy to dip into and is delicious, nerdy fun.