Moby Dick Read-A-Long Post #1: Thar She Blows

What better time to start reading a Victorian novel than Victoria Day? I don’t have much to share about the book yet, as I’ve just dipped my toe in, but here are a few bits and pieces as we get started.

What’s All This Then?

We’re reading Moby Dick from May 20 – July 22. For all the details and to sign up, click here.  Here’s the schedule:

  • Start date and Introductory Post: Monday, May 20th, 2013. 
  • Etymology + Chapters 1-15: May 27th
  • Chapters 16-30: June 3
  • Chapters 31-45: June 10
  • Chapters 46-60: June 17
  • Chapters 61-75: June 24
  • Chapters 76-90: July 1
  • Chapters 91-105: July 8
  • Chapters 106-120: July 15
  • Chapters 121-136 + Epilogue : July 22

My Editions of Moby Dick

I bought a second hand, no-nonsense, 2004 edition of the physical book. No intro, no biography, just the text.

Henry's ready.

Henry’s ready.

I attempted to replicate 101 Book’s hilarious My 2-Year-Old Judges Books By Their Covers by asking my three year old what he thought this book was about. I’m a little alarmed by what he came up with: “The whale swings his tail. Swish swish. Then the men come and BANG HIM!”

I’ll do most of my reading on my Kobo. I’ve had bad luck with free ebooks, but local MD fan @Wittermeir tells me this is a good one. He’s also kindly lending me Why Read Moby Dick by Nathaniel Philbrick, so I’ll be able to share tidbits with you. Moby Dick fans are the best!


Click for the free ebook

My Hopes for Moby Dick:

  • That I’ll be surprised by something. I’ve peeked at the first few chapters, and so far, I’m surprised by how funny it is. I’m often surprised when big scary classics are funny or romantic. If there’s a romantic element in MD, that’ll be something.
  • That reading and understanding Moby Dick will give me a deeper appreciation of other literature. After reading Dostoyevsky and Mann last year, I found allusions to and reflections of their writing in all sorts of surprising places. I suspect Melville’s influence is just as large as theirs, if not larger.

My Fears:

  • The descriptions of the whale and whaling will put me to sleep. After years of sleep deprivation, it doesn’t take much.
  • That I won’t get it. That the meaning of this book will fly over my head. You guys will help me out though, right?

Here are a couple features that I hope to include every Monday.

WWW Banner

Moby Dick Card Game

Slightly cooler than D&D.

I’ve always found it strange that a culture that creates a clear demand for television programs about things like crab fishing, tuna fishing, logging, trucking, duck hunting, and working in pawn shops is a culture that poo-poos the sort of documentary view Melville often gives us of whaling.


Comment below to share which edition you’re reading, and your thoughts going into this crazy read-a-long. Once you’ve written this week’s post, add a link to it (and check out the others) by clicking the Mr. Linky icon:



  1. Juliana

    Wow, good luck! Dodged a bullet and missed this pick on my spin list. But it looks like you’ve got everything in order! I’m going to follow along so that I’m better prepared when my turn comes. 🙂

    I bet you’ve already seen it, but I just wanted to let you know that Nathaniel Philbrick also wrote the book “In the Heart of the Sea,” which is about a whaleship disaster that heavily influenced Moby Dick. I just finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and it was really good. I thought that it would be too technical, but it was actually engaging all the way through. I know you’re probably not going to see daylight again while reading this, but it’s worth checking out. Or just look up the whaleship Essex for the Reader’s Digest version. It was supposedly Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick.

    Good luck!

    • lauratfrey

      Oh, that’s too bad. Or good, depending how you look at it.

      I just read an article about In the Heart of the Sea, but I didn’t realize it was by Philbrick. Dude must love Moby Dick 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  2. ebookclassics

    I’ve started MB and it’s surprisingly good. Luckily, my Classics Club spin book is Japanese Fairy Tales (5 pages a chapter x 25 = no sweat juggling two books).

  3. lauratfrey

    I thought it was Pee-Quad and Google agrees!

    Now how about Queequeg?? Google says it’s just how it looks, too, Kwee-Kweg.

    Seriously what’s with the names in this book 🙂

    • ebookclassics

      Thanks Google! I’m guessing there’s a Native American connection or it was a bunch of sailors at happy hour.

  4. Heather

    I took my copy down from the bookcase, and will be starting tonight. I won’t be able to get through much of it this evening, but I should be able to get this week’s reading done by Monday.

  5. David

    I agree with both of your points in the My Hopes section. I was pretty daunted by the size and writing style at first, so I think I missed a lot of humor in the first half. It seems like the type of book that will be funnier if I ever read it a second time.

  6. Pingback: Moby Dick Read-A-Long: Sign Up! | Reading in Bed

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