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CliffsNotes – the video??

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You had to figure that it would happen someday. Why read CliffsNotes – when you can watch the video instead? Actually this new enterprise is not affiliated with CliffsNotes at all but with a young woman whom USA Today is calling the "It" Girl of American education.

Check out 60secondrecap.com to watch Jenny Sawyer present lively, entertaining, and surprisingly erudite recaps of literary classics like "Great Expectations" and "The Scarlet Letter." In 60-second bites she discusses plot, theme, characters, motifs, and symbols. She's easy to watch – and you're likely to learn something as well.

She's not afraid to ham it up as she dissects the books and her very cute outfits may inspire new ideas for some back-to-school wardrobes. (She's sort of like the young, very fun, plugged-in 9th-grade English teacher that most of us never got.)

Sawyer is a Bryn Mawr College grad and self-described lit-nerd who also reviews children's books for the Monitor. She told USA Today that she hopes to be " 'the smartest kid in your English class,' the big sister you're just dying to talk to before class 'because you just did not get the symbols in this book.' "

So far she has completed only 10 "albums" (each work of literature is discussed in a package of 10 or so 60-second videos) but aims to do a complete analysis of 1,000 books before she's done.

For now, tune in to watch her discuss works like "Of Mice and Men," "Great Expectations," "Hamlet," and "To Kill a Mockingbird." Her "big sister" lit tips may persuade a few reluctant readers that great literature can be captivating and for the rest of us it's fun to be reminded of why the great books are great.


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