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
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"Moby-Dick" fans from around the world have celebrated their own grueling 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 an event that culminates 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, who traditionally kicks things off by reading what has been called the most famous opening line in literature, "Call me Ishmael," was award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick.
 
Portions were read in foreign languages.  Those include Spanish, French and Dutch.
 
The reading moves through different galleries of the museum, and at one point it even sails up the cobblestone street to the Seamen's Bethel - the Whaleman's Chapel in the novel.
 
New for this year was a four-hour reading of a Portuguese adaptation of "Moby-Dick," and a two-hour children's version. It was read by kids ages 8 to 12.
 
Philbrick, who wrote "In the Heart of the Sea," which won the National Book Award for nonfiction and was made into a movie of the same name, 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, 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 caffeine-fueled 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 (9)
  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    1/13/2016 - 09:28 p.m.

    I think this is cool because I never knew that this even happened. Moby Dick has become very popular these days. This is proof that there are hardcore fans for everything. I wonder who would take part in such a long event, just spending 25 hours reading a book. I guess some people would do it since there were 25-30 people awake for the whole time.
    Why are some people “forced” to read "Moby Dick"?
    Answer: Some people are "forced" to read Moby Dick because they have to read it as a school book or because they have to.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    1/13/2016 - 09:41 p.m.

    I think that it is pretty cool to have all of these people gather up and read Moby dick. My friends say that it is a good book, but I never get th chance to read it. I think that we should do something like this so that we can push ourselves to finish a book in a day. I think that I should read this book because it looks that I might enjoy this book. If I enjoy this book, then I will be very happy that I read something that I have never read before. I hope that this book can make me learn more like the other people have learned.

  • karliw-1-bar
    1/14/2016 - 07:27 p.m.

    People, usually students in junior high or high school are required and "forced" to read Moby Dick because it is a classical literature book.
    "It's written with such force and complexity and beautiful language," says Nathaniel Philbrick, who is the author of the truth behind Moby Dick. His book, In The Heart of the Sea, he tells the seemingly tall tales of the actual story and voyage of the crew that inspired Herman's Melville's fictional (but inspired upon) classical novel. Moby Dick is so elaboarted upon by so many authors, that, its is the best option to start at the beginning of the true story that is famously filled with temperamental white whales, cannibalism and complete insanity. Therefore, Moby Dick is forced to be read because of its obscure popularity, iconic story and because of its altering origins and background history.

  • josiec-1-bar
    1/14/2016 - 08:43 p.m.

    Some people are "forced to read Moby Dick because it is a requirement in some high schools. One of the authors claimed that he was, "forced to as a senior in high school." Just like this author he was forced to read Moby Dick. My opinion is that no one should be "forced" to read a book because reading should be for pleasure. It should be for pleasure because it most likely that if people like the book that that they are reading then they can connect to the book and comprehend the context more.

  • brianag-6-bar
    1/14/2016 - 10:48 p.m.

    Some people are "forced" to read "Moby Dick"because in school sometimes you have to read a book for a certain class or for a book report. Just like how Philbrick confesses, "he didn't read "Moby-Dick" until he was "forced to" as a senior in high school, 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." This quote from the texts has a theme that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and that sometimes being forced to do something outside of your comfort zone could make you change greatly.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    1/16/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    This is pretty neat. I wouldn't be surprised if more events like this started to pop up. People could read all types of books from different genres and time periods.

  • sheilah-6-bar
    1/21/2016 - 08:56 p.m.

    Some people were forced to read "Moby Dick" because they have never read it before. In the article it states,"Philbrick confesses he didn't read 'Moby-Dick' until he was 'forced to' as a senior in high school, 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." People want others to read this book they think is an amazing book. I found this article surprising because no one should be forced to read a book. When you read a book you should be enjoying it, not be bored when you read a book you didn't want to read.

  • lucasl-3-bar
    1/21/2016 - 09:17 p.m.

    People are "forced" to read "Moby Dick"because in school sometimes you have to read a book for a certain class or for a book report. Just like how Philbrick confessed, he didn't read "Moby-Dick" until he was forced to as a senior in high school, 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. The professor shows how the book surprised him and is actually interesting. The article was an interesting showing of a book that people may be forced to read, but many eventually enjoy.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    3/23/2016 - 09:02 p.m.

    I didn't know that many people who read Moby Dick celebrated the reading of Moby Dick. The New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts held its 20th annual nonstop reading of Moby Dick. I didn't know that there were special events such as this. The museum has many events but this is one particular event that many people like. This year's celebrity reader is Nathaniel Philbrick. He has written a book called "In the Heart of the Sea" which he won an award from. There are many versions and languages for different portions of Moby Dick.
    I think that some people were forced to read Moby Dick because of their school teachers or because people thought it was a good book.

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