Volunteers gear up for a whale of a reading The likeness of a whale adorns a door at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
Volunteers gear up for a whale of a reading
Lexile

"Moby-Dick" fans from around the world have celebrated their own demanding quest.  It was a marathon reading of Herman Melville's classic.
 
The New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts held its 20th annual nonstop reading of the seminal man vs. whale novel on Jan. 9-10. The event included a few new twists to mark the anniversary.
 
What started with just "a couple of die-hards and some grog," according to museum president and CEO James Russell, has grown into a much larger event. It concludes in a cover-to-cover, 25-hour reading of the book aloud by about 150 volunteers. Hundreds attend the live event and thousands more watch a live stream.
 
The event has become so popular that this year's reading spots were snapped up within an hour.
 
"This is my favorite museum event of the year," Russell said. "It touches on so many dimensions: the literary experience, the physical works of art, the theatrical performance, the workshops and focus groups."
 
The readers were young and old. They included Melville scholars and Melville descendants. They come from across the country and overseas. This year's celebrity reader was award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick. He kicked things off by reading what has been called the most famous opening line in literature, "Call me Ishmael."
 
Portions were read in foreign languages.  Those included Spanish, French and Dutch.
 
The reading moves through different galleries of the museum.  At one point, it even sails up the cobblestone street to the Seamen's Bethel. It is called the Whaleman's Chapel in the novel.
 
New for this year was a four-hour reading of a Portuguese adaptation of "Moby-Dick." Also new was a two-hour children's version read by kids ages 8 to 12.
 
Philbrick wrote "In the Heart of the Sea."  It won the National Book Award for nonfiction and was made into a movie of the same name. He called it an honor to get things started.
 
"It's written with such force and complexity and beautiful language," he said.
 
Philbrick confesses he didn't read "Moby-Dick" until he was "forced to" as a senior in high school. This was even though his father was a university English professor who specialized in American maritime literature. Now, he estimates he's read the book a dozen times.
 
"Ishmael was the best friend I had not met and I was completely harpooned," he said. "It's become like my personal bible."
 
Every year about 25 to 30 Melville aficionados manage to stay awake for the entire reading, Russell said.
 
"It's an immersive experience," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are some people “forced” to read "Moby Dick"?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (18)
  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    1/13/2016 - 07:56 p.m.

    I'm not really sure, but i could tell you why i might be forced to read Moby Dick. The reason is the same as why i had to read Huck Finn, Great Expectations, and so on. They're all classics and therefore commonly read in schools.

  • caymanm-2-bar
    1/13/2016 - 10:11 p.m.

    Some people are forced to read "Moby Dick" because it is a school requirement. Phillbrick said in the article that he wasn't allowed to read Moby Dick until he was forced to in his senior year of high school. Since it is such a great book, many schools want to read it. I thought this article was interesting because over 150 people read the book.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    1/14/2016 - 01:59 a.m.

    The volunteers might have been able to attract people to be reading books about tales about a whale because the tales about a whale might have been great to people that liked to read about the book. The volunteers might have been doing a hard work on trying to encourage people to be reading the book that is about a whale that people might be impressed by the writing of the book. The people that might have been liking the book because people might liked the book a lot because the people might have been able to read more about what is in the book that is good about. People might have been encouraged to read a lot of the book because the people might have been able to that they would be reading a lot of the books.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why are some people "forced" to read "Moby Dick"?
    Answer: Because some people don't like reading which they are forced to read Moby Dick until they liked reading books.

  • loganmoms-
    1/14/2016 - 09:14 a.m.

    I think this is weird because why would somebody who didn't even read moby dick until he was forced to write a story about.

  • jennifers-612-
    1/14/2016 - 11:21 a.m.

    I think that is a great idea because Moby dick is a story that has been known for years.

  • octaviop-gon
    1/14/2016 - 02:19 p.m.

    idk wut that means:(

  • tialden-1-bar
    1/14/2016 - 07:48 p.m.

    Some are forced to read Moby Dick because Moby Dick is widely favored as a good book by many and is a classic. Moby Dick is about a whale in the ocean. I found this article very persuasive because I might read Moby Dick now.

  • yuaw-3-bar
    1/14/2016 - 08:57 p.m.

    Some people are forced to read Moby Dick because as it says on paragraph twelve, "Phillbrick confesses he didn't start reading Moby-Dick until he was "forced" to as a senior in high school." they are forced to read his books in school.
    I thought this article was very interesting because Ive actually never read a book by Moby Dick either but Ive heard his name a billion times before. By reading this article it made me want to read his books.

  • oliviaw-4-bar
    1/15/2016 - 02:13 a.m.

    While some choose to read the amazing classic, Moby Dick, others stare blankly at the pages in complete boredom as they wish to be doing ANYTHING else. The 'forced' path of reading Melville's novel most likely taken when teachers assign the book to be read. I can understand why many would feel that mandatory reading can be a grueling task, as naturally, we tend to be more reluctant to complete tasks when we are told by others to do so. Nevertheless, I found the article especially intriguing and wonderful! I would absolutely LOVE to take part in one of these annual 25-hour readings!

  • danielab-hol
    1/17/2016 - 10:45 p.m.

    Some people are forced to read Moby Dick because in some schools they are required to read Moby Dick. Moby Dick is a favored book by many people and it is a classic.

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