Last year I read 52 books, a satisfying number. This year, I imagine I’ll be lucky to make half that. I’m planning to focus, at least in part, on a few big reads, like GAME OF THRONES, TREE OF SMOKE, and the Steve Jobs bio. And I’m kicking it off with the biggest fish of ‘em all, MOBY DICK, which I’ve never read.

Some folks have expressed a desire to read-along; fine by me. Love to have you for the ride - harpoons optional. If you want to talk about it on Twitter with me, use the #bigreadalong hashtag, to make it easy for other readers to find out how you’re feeling about your DICK. Every major publisher has their own edition of THE WHALE, it seems; I’m using the Penguin Classics Deluxe (pictured above).

When I read a book like this, I don’t just want to turn the pages: I want to wallow. There’s a lot of DICK lovers out there, and some of them have provided some fun bonus material worth digging into.

So there is, for example, the Moby Dick Big Read podcast project.


(painting from White Cube, lifted from the Big Read site)

When I was a kid, you could buy read-along records - little vinyl 45s that came with storybooks. The idea was to listen to the story on the record and read-along in the book at the same time (I had a great Spider-Man story) and in the process maybe sharpen your reading skills.

I’m doing much the same thing with DICK; every now and then I’ll download one of these chapters, and listen while reading along. Now and then I find it a pleasure to hear the language aloud (although there are also other times when I want to wrestle with Melville’s words and ideas on my own). If you’re more of a listener than a reader, the Big Read is a great way to enjoy the story… and even if you aren’t generally a fan of audiobooks, at least check out Tilda Swinton’s achingly perfect reading of the first chapter.


I’m also making my way through Matt Kish’s delightful Moby Dick in Pictures. Kish decided to paint one picture a day, each based on a page in Moby Dick. The result was an inspired blog, and, eventually a beautiful doorstop of an art book. I love the unlikely way Kish’s skateboard punk aesthetic meshes with Melville’s 19th century salt, and in Pictures is a terrific companion to the novel.

See you on dick. Ah, I mean, sea you on deck. I mean - oh nevermind.

  1. becomingtheidealme said: I tried reading MOBY DICK about two or three years ago. I found myself having to look up words like “circumambulate” and I wasn’t even out of the first chapter :/ So far I’m on ch.3 which is 2 further than I got last time :)
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  4. khealywu said: I think you meant ‘semen on deck’. It’s an easy mistake to dick.
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