Showing posts with label herman melville. Show all posts
Showing posts with label herman melville. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'M FINALLY DONE! Moby-Dick by Herman Melville


Title: Moby-Dick
Author: Herman Melville
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1851
Source: received as a gift many moons ago!

Summary from Goodreads

In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby-Dick is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

My Review:

Time to be corny!

Moby-Dick was my white whale.  (Ba-dum-ching!)

Seriously though.  FOUR months to finish it?  Oy vey.  But it is done.

Why did I feel such a compulsion to read this classic novel?  I'll chalk up a lot of it to the fact that I grew up in Connecticut.  Because of course, every Connecticuter (Connecticutian?) born before the early 90's has a deep, soulful connection to the HARTFORD WHALERS!
THE WHAAAALE!
What can I say.  My little state does not get much in the way of professional sports teams, and then they TAKETH IT AWAY.  So sad.

Anyway, the other thing is that I'm specifically from southeastern Connecticut, very near Mystic, which is home to the Mystic Seaport, a "living history" museum that chronicles a lot of the whaling history of the region.  Any kid who grew up in southeastern Connecticut went on AT LEAST one field trip to Mystic Seaport while they were in school.  Which means you toured a whaling ship and learned a lot about...whaling stuff.  All very relevant to Moby-Dick, RIGHT?!?!?

So I'm sure these are all important reasons why I made myself hang with this book for the first third of 2015.

Honestly, as time-consuming as this book was, it really was not a bad read.  Yes, there are some boring parts.  There are entire chapters devoted to whale anatomy and the proper dismantling of a dead whale and other such valuable whale-type knowledge.  There is also a lot of soliloquizing.  These sailors really like to listen to themselves talk!

But beyond that, there is also an interesting story.  Captain Ahab--you've all heard of him, but the guy is truly bonkers.  His journey to find Moby Dick is crazy and arrogant and foolhardy, which makes for excellent reading.  If you've ever heard anyone talk about this book over the years (and you likely have), you pretty much know what's coming from page 1.  But to watch it unfold is entertaining.  Figuring out Ahab, his fellow sailors, and the twists and turns of the journey itself, is certainly enough to keep you engaged.

There's also a lot of deeper meaning re: the arrogance of man, duty/honor, etc. but I'll let you hit up SparkNotes for that.  :)

I'm not going to try to go any deeper in my review about a book that's already been reviewed (and essayed, and analyzed) a billion times.  The question is, is Moby-Dick a book that you should pick up right now?  As always, it depends on what you're looking for.  If you want a classic with lots of subtle meaning, something that moves a bit slowly but still has an engaging story behind it...and you can stand all of the long-winded sections about whale biology, then I say, go for it.  I'm happy that I was able to experience this novel, despite the time it took to complete.

Have you read Moby-Dick?  For an assignment, or for fun?  Like or dislike?

This book is part of my 30 Before 35 list...woohoo!  It was also a pick from my TBR Book Baggie, so I took this opportunity to choose the next book from my bag.  The next one will be...

The Interrogator by Glenn Carle!

Stay tuned, hopefully I will get to it soon!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thoughts on my "slow reading" of the classics...

I mentioned many (MANY) weeks ago that I started reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  This is a classic that's been on my TBR pile for a long, long time.  I even have a nice-to-look-at special Barnes & Noble hardcover edition to read.  I was excited to finally dive in!
I am going to fill this post with awesome Moby Dick jokes.
So I started it...and as with many classics, I moved slowly at first.  Older novels tend to be written in, well, older language, so it takes me a while to adapt to that style.  I didn't dislike it, but I couldn't fly through it the way I can with modern novels.

Then, when I was about 25% done, one of my book tour dates came up.  Okay, Moby Dick, move to the side for a moment.  I read the book tour book, and then picked up Moby again.

But then...oh wait!  A much-anticipated bestseller just went on sale, and I have an Amazon credit!  Just like that, the good ol' white whale takes a backseat while I gobble up another contemporary novel.

This cycle has repeated itself since December.  It is now March (OMG), and I still have about a quarter of the novel left to enjoy.

I don't dislike Moby Dick.  I mean, it's had some slow (okay, downright boring) parts at times, but overall, I do enjoy reading it.  So why can't I just bring myself to finish it?
(crazyhyena.com)
Honestly, this happens to me a lot with classic novels.  I start them, and then take aaaaages to finish them (or don't finish them at all, as happened with Middlemarch...though let's all just agree that that book is the torture chamber of the literary canon).  Even the ones that I like, or that have a fast-moving plot, take me much longer than usual to get through.  Why, oh why?

I have usually justified this behavior by saying that I like to "slow read" my classics--really submerge myself in the (often outdated) language and styling, take my time working through it.  Plus, the extra brainpower that classic books sometimes require makes me feel like it's okay to interrupt my reading with a quicker, modern novel once in a while.

However, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I believe there's more to it than that.  Saying I like to "slow read" these tomes makes my constant interruption of them sound almost noble, in some way.  But truthfully: I think I'm also just taking them for granted.

Because let's face it: classics aren't going anywhere.  No one's going to forget about Moby Dick tomorrow.  It's still going to be world-renowned.  They're still going to teach it in high school English classes.  People are still going to make references to it in casual conversation ("this project at work is my white whale!").  If I don't finish it today, it's okay--because there's a whole world of readers who will still want to talk about it tomorrow.

Newer books, on the other hand, don't have that feeling of longevity.  Yes, there are modern classics...but you won't know what books have that kind of staying power until their popularity has been proven in 5, 10, 20 years.  So I suppose that's why I feel the need to devour them so quickly.  Are people still going to be going gaga over The Girl on the Train in six months?  Is anyone going to care if I decide to read/review The Last Lecture this year, since that book is soooo 2008?  There's a feeling of immediate relevancy with newer books.  They're important today, but they may not be tomorrow.

Plus, sometimes you just have a favorite modern author that you know you want to keep up with.  Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Jon Krakauer, etc are still publishing books, and I know I want to read them.  ALL OF THEM!  So I put down Moby Dick in favor of these new releases, because Melville's bibliography ain't goin' nowhere.  No keeping up for me to do there.

I feel guilty admitting that.  But 'tis the truth.  I love the classics, I really do--but sometimes I just can't resist reading the Next Big Thing.  Especially when it's by an author that I know and love.  There are only so many books I can read in my little lifetime, and it's HARD to prioritize sometimes. #readerproblems

What say you, readers?  Do you often interrupt your reading of classic novels in order to tackle some newer material?  Or are you faithful to reading one book at a time, new stuff be damned?

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday, and what am I NOT reading?


Hello, reader friends!  A quick post today, as it's been a busy (but fun) weekend around here with my menfolk.  We celebrated the fact that we live in Rochester and it snows every.single.day. by going to the local Winter Fest yesterday, and I think we are all tired out!  Small Fry has discovered a deep love of sledding, and my husband and I have the sore arms from toting his sled up and down the hill to prove it.  My husband also has the day off today, so we are enjoying a little extra family time on this long weekend.

As for what I'm reading these days...my nightstand is about to fall over from the weight, people!  Here's what's going:

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I've been in the midst of this since mid-December.  I like to slow-read my classics.  I'm about halfway through.  Some parts are, admittedly, sleep-inducing, but the majority of it is pretty good.  I'm keeping notes for a future review.  It will likely definitely include at least one mention of the Hartford Whalers.

2, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I heard through the blogger grapevine that this has the potential to be "the Gone Girl of 2015".  If that is not true, people (AHEM, Jennifer) need to choose their words more carefully.  Because I think we all know the best way to get me to drop everything and read something is to compare it to Gone Girl.  My verdict is still out, but stay tuned.

3. The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Reading this for a book tour at the end of the month.  A little more romantical than what I usually choose, but I'm still enjoying the mystery and intrigue of it so far.

Also on my nightstand but not started yet...
1. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

I have an ARC of this one and I am SO EXCITED to get started on it soon!

2. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Picked it up from the library because I've heard nothing but good things...it's due back in 2 weeks...I'm sure I'll get to it, right?

3. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Not physically on my nightstand yet, but my book club just chose it as our next pick, so I've got a hold in for it at the library.

Reading is out of control right now, friends!  But the great thing is, these are all excellent books so far.  Too many excellent books is NEVER a bad thing.

What are you reading this week?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy Monday! What are YOU reading?

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  What are you reading today?
Our weekend was busy with all sorts of good stuff.  On Saturday, I got a tattoo (my third) of an infinity symbol with my boys' names woven into it.  I LOVE IT.  I wish I could show it to you, but as you know, they go by Small Fry and Tater Tot on the blog, and that is not what the tattoo says (although that would have been pretty fantastic).  So for privacy's sake, you'll just have to imagine it.  But this is the idea photo that I provided to the artist, if you want the gist:

It went on the inner part of my upper arm (bicep area) and it didn't hurt all that much.  Because after childbirth, nothing else hurts all that much.  Anyway, these kids better love me forever, because they are totally stuck to me now!

Sunday we took Small Fry and Tater Tot to one of the local farms that were doing a fall festival.  It was awesome!  Pumpkin patch, train rides, giant slides, playground, sandbox, petting zoo, corn maze, etc.  The weather was gorgeous and we had a great time.  (An even better time when we got home and both kiddos passed out for a nap--woo!!!)

As for what I'm reading these days:

Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult

From Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller and My Sister’s Keeper, comes a gripping and beautifully written novella, now available exclusively as an eBook. Set in the wilds of Africa, Larger Than Life introduces Alice, the unforgettable character at the center of Picoult’s anticipated new novel, Leaving Time
 
A researcher studying memory in elephants, Alice is fascinated by the bonds between mother and calf—the mother’s powerful protective instincts and her newborn’s unwavering loyalty. Living on a game reserve in Botswana, Alice is able to view the animals in their natural habitat—while following an important rule: She must only observe and never interfere. Then she finds an orphaned young elephant in the bush and cannot bear to leave the helpless baby behind. Thinking back on her own childhood, and on her shifting relationship with her mother, Alice risks her career to care for the calf. Yet what she comes to understand is the depth of a parent’s love. (From Goodreads)

Yes, it's that time of year again!  Jodi Picoult's latest release is on the horizon.  (If you are unsure about my level of excitement for this, please educate yourself here.)  Leaving Time will be available October 14, but readers are getting a special treat beforehand--this novella that delves into the past of one of Leaving Time's central characters.  It's only in eBook format, but was offered for free for a short time (score!).

The novella is interesting so far--not full of the twists and turns that you expect from a Picoult book, as it's more of a character study to get your curiosity going for the novel that is to come.  But I love getting this early glimpse at one of the new book's characters, and it's definitely getting me psyched for release day.  Picoult fans should check this out--it's a quick read and a fun way to gear up for her latest work.

What will I read next?
Several options ahead for me!  I have The Hunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson from the library...getting ready for spooky Halloween-ish reads.  I'm also considering a Stephen King novel (as I always do this time of year)...perhaps Bag of Bones.  And I've also got my new pick from the TBR book baggie--Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  EEK!  I have a feeling that one might wait for a while.

What's in your reading plans this week, friends?  Any fun Halloween reads coming up?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can't Believe I Never Read

It's time for a little Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  Today we get to pick any past topic, so I went with

The Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Never Read

1. Any of John Irving's books

I know, I know.  I really need to get on this.  The World According to Garp is the book that's been on my Goodreads TBR list the longest.

2. Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster

I hear amazing things about Jen Lancaster all the time!  I love funny books!  Why have I not read this yet?

3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I have it sitting on my bookshelf at home, it's been recommended to me a million times.  I don't have a good excuse.

4. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Haven't seen the movie either.

5. Salem's Lot by Stephen King

As a King fan, this one is the hardest to admit.  I plan to rectify that soon, in time for Halloween!

6. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

All the Banned Book Week talk about this book is making me feel like I need to move it up the TBR list.

7. The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

Another book that is recommended to me all the time.  And I loved Larson's In The Garden of Beasts!  I need to get to this.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Apparently I did not have a normal childhood, if I managed to miss this.

9. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

See above comment.

10. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

It just feels like something I need to read.  As a reader.

So, what books can you not believe you never read?  Also, feel free to leave me shaming comments.  They will motivate me to read these books!!
 
Imagination Designs