Books

I Will If You Will: The Book Club Tackles A Big One

the tail of a whale.

Yes, that's a hint. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

Okay. Here's where we stand.

Some of you want to read more YA; some of you want to read more current pop literature; some of you are just suggesting books you think are great; some of you like the imposing-classics idea.

Some of you are ardently opposed to every single thing that some of you are enthusiastically in favor of, so there is absolutely no way to please everybody or to preserve everybody's enthusiasm on a book-by-book basis, so please forgive me if this one doesn't go your way.

But I think, based on your comments, we should read Moby-Dick.

This entire experiment is partly just that — it is experimental, and if everybody is bored silly by impenetrable whaling details, we'll stick with breezier material in the future. I want to try something really different (like, really different) and see how it works. Remember: the entire idea here was originally to read something you might otherwise not read because you're in good company, not to identify the best possible book you could read — because I assume you do that on your own. I am sort of intrigued and delighted by the fact that the readers of the blog are into supporting a book club where the first two books could be Twilight and Moby-Dick. That's what makes you guys fun to talk to.

If you still feel thwarted, I'll put it to you this way: imagine how many people would have been upset if, instead of a discussion of Twilight leading to a discussion of a book club, we had proposed a book club as a general proposition and then chosen, as our first book, Twilight. It is safe to say that idea would not have been universally embraced, just as this one will not be universally embraced.

For obvious reasons, managing Moby-Dick will not happen in the form of one post a day for a week. Twilight is the quintessential fast read in spite of its length; I cannot say the same for the whale. Moreover, there's enough other stuff going on that I wouldn't want to promise to either read it that fast myself or write about it every day.

I envision this following a more conventional book-club format, where we'll read a chunk at a time and see how it goes. I'm sure that as we're reading, I may well post about it at odd times, and there is always Twitter, and our #monkeyread hashtag (which is actually getting a good workout).

The good news is that you can get this book in a wide variety of formats, including getting it entirely free electronically through Project Gutenberg.

There are 135 (fairly short) chapters, which look like they're going to be roughly the equivalent of five pages each. Let's say that next Thursday, one week from today, we'll discuss chapters 1 through 10. That's not a huge amount of reading — and seriously, you can read the entire book at this link during your downtime — and we'll see what kind of pace seems right for the following week and how much you want to read at a time.

Happy whaling, you delightfully unexpected readers, you.

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