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It's Time to Finally Read Moby Dick!

Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab

If you’ve never managed to make it all the way through this “great American classic,” NOW is the time to give it one more go! Wait, don’t click away! Hear me out! I’ve tried at least three times in the past to read Moby Dick & always get bogged down after a few chapters. All that whaling! All that boiling down of blubber! And, what is Ahab’s problem anyway?! So I’ve never “gotten” Moby Dick & never finished the book. I always abandon the Pequod, Ishmael, Ahab, & the gang and leave them floating in the middle of the ocean somewhere.

But NOT this time! You may have heard recently that writer, Philip Hoare, is leading a "big read" of Moby Dick, or, in this case, more like a “big listen.” He’s offering a chapter per day in free downloadable audio. There’s a different reader and a different artist’s illustration for each chapter.  I know about this because I have been reading, not a chapter per day, but a PAGE per day, of Moby Dick since August 9th , 2012, and writing a blog about it.  So, several people who’ve been following my blog have told me about the big read project. “This guy stole your idea!” they say indignantly.

Moby Dick novel and Moby Dick in PicturesI’m not concerned though. There’s plenty of Moby Dick to go around. He’s a big whale & it’s a big book. You can check it out from the library in print, audio, or digital, or download the free eBook from Project Gutenberg. It’s chock full of themes, allegories, interesting characters, and even humor! Queequeg, the harpooner, spears steaks at the breakfast table with his harpoon, and Ishmael’s mind works in a very human & sometimes amusingly contradictory way.

I was inspired to start my read-a-page-per-day project by the book Moby Dick in Pictures, by Matt Kish. (Click the link to watch the book trailer) Matt Kish drew an illustration, one per day, one for each page of Moby Dick. My plan was to look at the illustration, read the corresponding page in Moby Dick, and write a blog post.  I’m up to page 51 and still going strong.

Here’s a taste of my blog for you:

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Gregory Peck as Ahab fighting the whale

Or perhaps the first 2 pages are an extreme closeup of the whale. The edition of Moby Dick  that I have actually begins on page 3. Moby Dick has 624 pages, while Moby Dick in Pictures only has 552. Only. I should be done on February 12th, 2014. 

At the very first sleepover I went to when I was about 9, we stayed up late and watched “Teenagers from Outer Space” & “Moby Dick.” I grew up retaining a vivid memory of the scene where Gregory Peck engages in manly battle with the whale. Also some vivid memories of the “teenagers” using their ray guns to turn people (& poor Sparky, the dog) into skeletons.

So today it’s a “damp, drizzly November” in Ishmael’s soul, but at least he’s restraining himself from knocking off people’s hats. Good job on the socially appropriate behavior, Ishmael! 

So grab a harpoon, hoist the sails, and start reading!