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Moby-Dick Big Read – Update

Moby-Dick Big Read online reading event

Moby Dick Big Read online reading eventAs of today I’m 41 chapters into the great American novel, one Moby-Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville, and have to say there have been a number of surprises. By the way, it’s not too late to participate in this huge online reading event called the Moby-Dick Big Read. The basic idea is that you simply read one chapter a day or listen to the audio narrations posted every day or both. At this point you can read at your own pace, at least until you get up to the daily postings. Each chapter has a different daily narrator and they range from the Prime Minister of England to the actress Tilda Swinton who reads the first chapter.

Moby-Dick surprises today’s readers

Moby Dick Heritage Press edition

Captain Ahab

I confess, probably like most of you, I had a lot of assumptions about Moby-Dick. After all, it was written ages ago, around 1851. I assumed the book would be dry, boring, and totally uninteresting. I went into this reading event assuming I’d have to push myself every day to open the book and listen to the daily podcasts. Boy, was I wrong.

  • The chapters in Moby-Dick are short, as in very short. Most are easily under 5 pages and often only one or two.
  • Melville is a funny guy. There is a lot of humor.
  • The audio narration form is a definite plus and adds to the experience. (I read along with the audio but many participants do not.)
  • The story is as relevant today as it was back in the 1850s. At its heart this is a story of obsession and revenge.
  • Moby-Dick contains a lot of suspense. The novel was written to be published in serial form much as Charles Dickens published his work. So there is a definite intention to build chapters incorporating suspense.

Join the Moby-Dick Big Read Chat

Once I began the daily chapter readings I realized that I wanted to find others who were participating, too. I checked around a couple of reading groups like GoodRead and LibraryThing and found one group on GoodRead but they were reading the book in one month. I signed up but quickly realized I still wanted to find others who were reading at the slower one-chapter-a-day pace. So I set up the Moby-Dick Big Read Chat group. Feel free to stop by, visit, and join us in our reading endeavor. The more the merrier.

One of our GoodReads Moby-Dick chat members shared a great resource she’d found called Patell and Waterman’s History of New York, a blog that posts daily with information about the writing of that day’s chapter contents. It’s been a terrific companion read that definitely adds a new dimension to our daily readings.

That’s it for today. I’ll share more about the great white whale as I go along. We’ll be reading one chapter a day until the end of January. Join us. (Always enjoy hearing from you, be sure and share your thoughts below.)


Moby Dick (The Ignatius Critical Editions)


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