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Reading Moby Dick and Other Classics

Don't be afraid of a book

There are certain books that society collectively knows, but not many want to read. 

Moby Dick is one of them. I skated through high school and college not having read the voluminous tome. Now, it’s the time. I’ve read enough modern/sci-fi over the last few weeks and am ready for something different.

There is something about classics that make them seem removed from present. Maybe it’s because they are so well known, so often analyzed, and so often referenced in pop culture. The book, instead of being nothing more then some pages strung together and a chance for a fun summer read, becomes untouchable due to its own hype.

I’m about 20 percent into Moby Dick and have been reading about a week. I'm happy to report, ladies and gentlemen, that despite the book's mystique, it's been easy reading.

One thing that helps: the setting. I’m embarrassed to say I recognize the names of many of the figures (Captain Ahab, Ishmael), but had no idea what the setting of the novel would be.When I read about places where I’ve actually set foot in real life as the setting of a classic novel, I’m always initially jarred. Reading about New England and chowder isn’t what I was expecting (yes, I get that there are metaphors and what not and very serious topics of discussion coming up). Despite that, the fact that this classic takes place in good old New England where I've gone on more then a couple of summer vacations helps make the novel more accessible.

Another plus to the novel: there are no real “big words” to look up. Melville uses simple prose. With the exception of his tangents about the merits of whaling, the plot is fairly straightforward. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

Goes to show: never be intimidated by a book. People oftentimes try and make others feel as though a novel is untouchable, or that you aren’t long bearded enough to understand the subtle metaphors littered throughout the novel. Or that you should stick to shallow chick-lit about lipstick and boyfriends because you're a young woman living in a metropolitan area. A book is a book, and many times, it’s well-loved for a reason.

Have you read a book before that initially intimidated you?

Nery Gainor July 05, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Happy reading.

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