Not every classic book is good for you.
Many of the people reading this blog read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick at one point or another during the course of their time at school. There are others like me, who did not read the book in school and then as an adult began reading all the classics they felt they missed along the way. I have a collection of several hundred classic books on my Kindle 3G so I decided to check out Moby Dick.
For those of you who do not know, Moby Dick is the name of a whale that is the arch-enemy of Captain Ahab, the captain of a whaling boat. I had heard the book was a metaphor for many things:
- man’s struggle to maintain a dominant position in the food chain
- man’s struggle to succeed against overwhelming odds
- the need to chase a dream and control it
Well, I read Moby Dick, the entire thing, all 556 pages. What I learned is that not everything is a classic for a good reason. I read Moby Dick on my Kindle so as I read the book I could see what percentage of the book I had read at any given point. I started the book, and learned about the history of New England, stocking a whaling vessel, sailing the oceans, life at sea, and more about whales, and the uses for whale fat than I ever imagined I would learn. For approximately 94 percent of the book, there was no whale named Moby Dick. I remember telling my husband and kids as I read the book, “Twenty-three percent and no Moby Dick.” “Thirty-seven percent no Moby Dick.” “Seventy-eight percent no Moby Dick.” “Ninety percent no Moby Dick.”
When I finally got to the big interaction between Moby Dick and Captain Ahab, I read and looked for the meaning of the book. I am not going to spoil the story by telling you the end. But, let me sum it up this way. I read Moby Dick, all 556 pages and I will never read it again. If any of my kids must read it for school and wants my help, I hope that all I learned about whale blubber, New England and the nature of whales comes back to memory. Because there is no way I am reading that book again.
In the end, what I learned by reading Moby Dick is that I can complete any task I set my mind to complete. After all, I got through that book, which I stopped enjoying after three pages, I can accomplish anything. I am indeed a superhero. So, the question for you this sensational day is, what is the worst book you ever read?