My White Whale


Once, in an effort to impress my speed-reading boyfriend (now husband), I lied about having read Moby Dick. It was going fantastic until he asked me how it ended. With the utmost confidence, I said, “Captain Ahab kills the whale. OBVIOUSLY.” Greg laughed and corrected me. Then he explained what the expression “white whale” means, because I didn’t know that either.

I swear I’m not completely dumb. After I switched majors from English to Journalism in my undergraduate career, I stopped reading as many books. Honestly, I’d grown tired of books and over-analyzing them. From that point on, I opted to read mostly news and magazine articles, along with an occasional tome of literary journalism (true stories written like fiction- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a primary example). My husband continues to make fun of me for not reading many books, particularly classics such as Moby Dick.

I would just like to state for the record that when I mentioned Scott Brown to him during the 2012 election cycle,  he didn’t know who that was. So good day to you.

But I confess: Moby Dick is my white whale. Not because Melville is hard to read… classics just make me feel as though I’m back in school and there’s a term paper due next week, so I have to obsess over every damn detail instead of just enjoying the work.

I’m compiling a list of books to read in 2013, and Melville’s masterpiece is at the top of my list. I will end my reader’s block, which a fellow blogger recently wrote about, highlighting Moby Dick.

After that, I plan to read the true story Moby Dick is based on, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.


Do you have any other recommendations for my 2013 reading list? I’m a fan of nonfiction, but also enjoy fiction books that are based in reality (like The Help by Kathryn Stockett).


5 thoughts on “My White Whale”

  1. I read a good portion of Moby Dick a couple of years ago and I just couldn’t stick to it. For one thing, the whaling terminology was not something I am familiar with. I needed a dictionary beside me to even read a little. There were parts of the book that I could appreciate, but I could not dedicate myself to it. I’ve read many classic novels, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish this one. Good luck!

  2. Ten years ago I added “reading the Norwegian Book Clubs Top 100 works of fiction” to my bucket list. I’ve read a 3rd of them so far and my reading has veered off the list badly for the past 5 years. Anyway, I think the Norwegian’s probably have a lot of time to read in the winter so they probably know a good book when they read one. The list is at the following link.

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