I reached the peak of Mt. Everest -- 29,029 feet. Call me Ishmael!
Moby Dick was the most challenging book I have ever read, period, but a challenge I...moreI reached the peak of Mt. Everest -- 29,029 feet. Call me Ishmael!
Moby Dick was the most challenging book I have ever read, period, but a challenge I will never forget. What a great adventure it was! I do have to say, I am kind of sad today finishing it. It has been my buddy for a year and a half and now it is done. It’s more than just the ending that brings a tear to my eye.
I found Moby Dick in my Dad’s old book pile and thought, “Ok, here is a classic I should read”. I had no notion about it from anyone yet, I just figured it would be a tale about a whaling expedition. Well, as I started to read it, I talked with my brother and he was the first to say, “Good luck with that one, it is tough”. (And he is a smarty pants regarding literature.) Now that I have finished it, I have formed my own opinion about this novel and I want to convince those of you out there who haven’t read it yet, to please read it at some point in your life.
This is a story about a monomaniac Captain (Ahab) and his ship’s crew searching the seas for a sperm whale named Moby Dick. During a previous whaling expedition, Ahab tried to capture Moby Dick and the white whale caught hold of the Captain’s leg and swallowed it whole; ever since that encounter, Ahab has been obsessively hunting down Moby Dick.
Herman Melville’s writing at first was very perplexing to me, but once I figured out his style, oh, my, what fun it was. The first encounter I had was Ishmael’s detailed description of a portrait on the wall at the Spouter Inn. He went through painstaking details in describing this picture, and at the end of the description he deciphers a whale. I still can remember that room he described and still see the painting on the wall. In fact, after I finished the book, I went back and re-read that portion to appreciate the significance of this portrait. Symbolism and metaphors are rampant throughout this novel.
Something I will never forget was Ishmael’s statement in the 2nd chapter about grapnels. The statement is, “With anxious grapnels, I had sounded my pocket, and only brought up a few pieces of silver—“ For some brain-freeze moment I did not get it. I read it and looked up grapnels, and read it some more. Finally, I went back to it and had the “aha” moment. This was the turning point of my reading Moby Dick. I just realized I needed to relax and let his words flow over me.
There were a few chapters that were grueling to get through, which many people talk about, but the little treasures I found within them wouldn’t have been discovered if I hadn’t kept up my diligence. For instance, I found the poem by Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I had never heard this poem before, and I loved it. It is so beautiful and apropos while reading Moby Dick. And, a chapter that is referenced frequently from those who have read Moby Dick is The Whiteness of The Whale. This was the toughest chapter for me, but once I got through it, it was amazing. It is solely about the significance of the color white. The whiteness of a steed, the whiteness of the peaks of mountain tops – the good and the bad of the color white. This is a memorable chapter that I appreciated.
I have several favorite chapters but one I really enjoyed at the beginning was The Wheelbarrow. The scene on the boat with Queequeg was very exciting. You develop a tremendous amount of respect for this harpooner. His character is developed at the beginning of the book and is enhanced as the story goes along. I loved Queequeg.
If you skim-read Moby Dick, you will miss so much of Melville’s subtle humor, his philosophical writings, his lessons in whaling. And, I want to over emphasize about the many chapters interspersed between the detailed descriptions of whaling that are excellent sub-stories. These stories are like little Cracker Jack surprises. Ishmael gives us interesting tales of encounters during this journey searching for Moby Dick. You develop a kinship for Ahab and his crew. And, as far as the infamous, laborious chapters regarding whaling, those were very enlightening for me. I knew nothing about whales or sailing vessels before I read this novel and now I would love to go whale watching, and visit whaling ships just see all that I have read. The descriptions of the try-works, the hemp ropes all the different areas of the ship, I’d love to jump on board. These chapters were very pertinent to the story overall.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, it took me about a year and a half to read this novel. I did not hurry on purpose. Melville’s writing is so beautiful, so humorous, I didn’t want to rush a single thought he had put down. His subtle humor is almost enough in itself to read this book. And, here is another excellent aspect: If you put it down for three weeks, when you pick it up again, you won’t miss a single beat. There was no problem picking up where I left off. My poor paperback version was held so much the binding somewhat came apart. I have notes in the margins and have post-it tabs all throughout. The edition I have has the deckle edges – so perfect for the sense of touch while reading Moby Dick on the deck of the Pequod.
A sampling of his writing here is a pirates’ notion of superiority to the whalesman:
“Because, in the case of pirates, say, I should like to know whether that profession of theirs has any peculiar glory about it. It sometimes ends in uncommon elevation, indeed; but only at the gallows. And besides, when a man is elevated in that odd fashion, he has no proper foundation for his superior attitude. Hence, I conclude, that in boasting himself to be high lifted above a whaleman, in that assertion the pirate has no solid basis to stand on.”
This one quote below made me laugh out loud one morning when I was reading:
“Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.”
Here is a sampling of his description of a day:
“It was a clear steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman’s look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson’s chest in his sleep.”
One more quote describing Moby Dick during the last chapters of the book:
“‘There she breaches! there she breaches!’ was the cry, as in his immeasurable bravadoes the White Whale tossed himself salmon-like to Heaven. So suddenly seen in the blue plain of the sea, and relieved against the still bluer margin of the sky, the spray that he raised, for the moment, intolerably glittered and glared like a glacier; and stood there gradually fading and fading away from its first sparkling intensity, to the dim mistiness of an advancing shower in a vale.”
All I can say is WOW! Can’t beat this! His descriptions of the colors of the water at different times of the day, the birds, the sky . . . I could go on an on – you have to read it to see!
I noticed the average rating for Moby Dick is 3.36 stars. How sad. It is worth 5 stars all the way! Melville is a philosophical, poetic genius. Reading this book was like falling deep into a sea of beautiful music; the symphony of words that envelop you and caress you; not a drowning feeling at all, a very comfortable and enriching feeling. It took me time to decipher, but it was worth every minute. I may re-read it in a few years just to get back onto the Pequod and feel that cool salt sea air brush against my face and live among the crew again. I recommend this great novel to EVERYONE!
The concept was original, and I really liked the different perspective. It kept me in suspense until the end. But, I didn't like the ending. In my opi...moreThe concept was original, and I really liked the different perspective. It kept me in suspense until the end. But, I didn't like the ending. In my opinion, the ending wasn't consistent with the rest of the theme. (less)
THE END. Oh, no, I never want it to end. I want it to go on forever!
Ok, so here goes. I am going to attempt a review of War and Peace in my simpleton...moreTHE END. Oh, no, I never want it to end. I want it to go on forever!
Ok, so here goes. I am going to attempt a review of War and Peace in my simpleton language. But, I am so adamant about the greatness of this book that I want everyone to read it before finishing life.
"HURRAH", I finally finished War and Peace (for the second time), but THIS time I really read it and thoroughly enjoyed every word. I think when I read it at 25 it was the “challenge” aspect and didn’t really appreciate all the nuances, philosophies of Tolstoy, etc. because I was too young. At my age now, death is more prominent on my mind, and I appreciate his philosophizing much more.
Tolstoy’s writing is so easy to follow. His words just flow from story to story and bring you in close to each person and each family. I felt such warm feelings for Nicholas, Princess Mary, Natasha, Andrew and of course Pierre. My war hero was General Kutuzov. Kutuzov, depicted by Tolstoy, is a man who “adapts to the flow of events and thinks on his feet”. From Tolstoy’s descriptions of Kutuzov, I saw this wise, fatherly image in front of me, a thoughtful and intelligent man.
Ah, the war scenes – what emotions Tolstoy brings out in you at each battle. You are right there on the ground looking up at the brilliant blue sky (his landscape descriptions are superb) and you feel the emotions and fear from each scene. The blood, the cold, the fog, the hoar frost on the ground is so clear in your mind. He is a genius.
Tolstoy brings religion into many aspects of this tome, but in a way to make you think, not to convert. He gives you bits of what everyone feels and ponders about God and it works your mind. Yes, that is exactly what this book did for me. It made my mind work; really contemplate life. I was left with such good feelings that it made an impact on my philosophy of life.
Tolstoy used many analogies throughout that were excellent. One analogy towards the end of the book was about a soldier and how this man represented the cog in the wheel. You are left with immense respect for the soldier. Tolstoy’s writing is very persuasive. He persuaded me to admire Kutuzov, to understand war in general and to rethink the philosophy of life.
The only reason it took me so long to read this book is because of the normal interruptions of life. It is such an easy read most people should finish it within a few months easily. I’ve heard some say following the families is difficult. The families are listed at the beginning of the book and I referenced them as a new one was introduced, and it wasn’t bad at all. And, believe me, after getting to know each and every one of the characters, you will become attached and never forget them.
War and Peace is number one on my list as the best book ever written, and will never leave that position. I recommend this to EVERYONE!
Oh, how I love Charles Dickens’ writing, what a genius he was. There is no doubt why David Copperfield is a classic. Every thought is so clear, serene...moreOh, how I love Charles Dickens’ writing, what a genius he was. There is no doubt why David Copperfield is a classic. Every thought is so clear, serene, in his writing style. I was transported into another place and time and felt a warmth and comfort like sinking deep into a down-filled bed every time I picked up this book to read a chapter or two. You talk about escapism -- this was it for me completely. Charles Dickens has entertained with his many stories for centuries and will continue for many more centuries to come. “A Christmas Carol”, “Oliver Twist”, and “David Copperfield” are just a few of my favorites! I read David Copperfield when I was young and loved it, but reading it again as an adult, I can appreciate all the nuances so much more. There are innuendoes that make you laugh throughout. Very subtle jabs that if you blink you could miss them. He can create a scene with his words so you feel every step that David takes. The cold air blowing and smell of wet leaves in the fall, oh, he puts you right there with David traversing through Canterbury, London and Blunderstone.
In the two prefaces (an original and an updated version) of my edition, Charles Dickens states how much he loved writing this novel; how much he did not want to put down his pen – “It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two years’ imaginative task.”
He also writes, “Of all my books, I like this the best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.”
These sentiments made me fall in love with the book even before I started rereading it. Now, after finishing this masterpiece, I understand exactly why he said it was hard to put his pen down. It is sad to finish this novel because you never want it to end. Charles Dickens’ writing is so smooth, so easy to read, so romantic, and yes, very funny. All the great characters he introduces to us throughout are perfectly depicted. You feel the limp, sweaty palms of Uriah Heep, you see the beautiful eyes and hear the beautiful voice of Dora, and the wonderfully callused, hard-worked hands of Peggotty – oh, what wonderful characters there are in this epic; these characters become family to you too.
David Copperfield goes through so much in his young life and this story gives you all kinds of starts and surprises where you’ll gasp, there is romance and you sigh, there is sadness and you cry. I had tears roll down my checks a few times while I was reading this beautiful story. There are stories that intertwine and come around again and again with many interesting twists and turns. Dickens has such a way with descriptions of people; you either become much attached or despise the not so wonderful.
So, what else can one say about a masterpiece as this? There isn’t enough space to print all the kudos here in Goodreads. Not enough. This was a five-star when I read it the first time and a ten-star after my re-read (if there could be such a rating). I recommend everyone put this in a “top ten to read soon”, you will not regret it. (less)
The Red Pony. It has been about 40 years since I read this last. I have been looking at this book on my shelf yearning to read it again because it pro...moreThe Red Pony. It has been about 40 years since I read this last. I have been looking at this book on my shelf yearning to read it again because it provoked warm emotions in my memory for some reason. Well, I just finished re-reading it, and did not remember much at all except the characters names: Jody, Billy Buck and Gabilan (the red pony). So, it was like reading a brand new story.
It is almost unbelievable what Jody goes through as a 10-year-old, but at that time in history, on a ranch, it is probably very realistic. The treatment of Jody by his father irritated me tremendously, and the sad thing is that this probably happens in many households all the time. I am so glad that Billy Buck, the ranch hand, was close by to give positive guidance to Jody.
There are four different stories within this one novella and that part I did not remember. At first I was confused. Huh, where are we going now? But, as I kept reading, the theme that runs through these stories makes it complete. Jody learns about the harsh realities of life, death, dreams and disappointment all within just a couple of years.
So, here is another book where John Steinbeck’s descriptions of the Salinas area are so well written that you smell the sage, hear the birds, feel the horny toad, and see the puffs of clouds drifting across the sky. You shiver when he describes the cold air whipping through the barn. The spot that Jody visited daily was the sagebrush line “where the cold spring ran out of its pipe and fell into a round wooden tub. He leaned over and drank close to the green mossy wood where the water tasted best”. Wow, I could almost taste that water.
I originally put down four stars (just from “a good-feeling memory” for this book), but now I am changing it to five. At my young age, I know I missed much of the symbolism. It is an easy read that makes you think. The Red Pony. What a classic! I recommend it to everyone! (less)
Wow, what a wonderful book! This left me with so many good, warm feelings that I am keeping it on my coffee table as a reference guide for living life...moreWow, what a wonderful book! This left me with so many good, warm feelings that I am keeping it on my coffee table as a reference guide for living life at its fullest, and appreciating the mundane, day-to-day life experiences. The Tuesday visits between Morrie and Mitch are so well described that you feel you are right there in the room with them. I really enjoyed the philosophical statements regarding our high-paced lifestyles -- need to slow down and smell the coffee, truly enjoy the aroma. By the end of this book, the tears were streaming down my face and the tissues were being pulled at a feverish pace. I would recommend this book for EVERYONE!
After reading "Daddy's Little Girl", by Mary Higgins Clark, I was excited to become engrossed in another of her novels. But, I have to say, "On the St...moreAfter reading "Daddy's Little Girl", by Mary Higgins Clark, I was excited to become engrossed in another of her novels. But, I have to say, "On the Street Where You Live", was very disappointing to me. I actually couldn't wait to finish it, just to finish it, not because I couldn't wait for the ending.
This story covers eleven days. It starts on Tuesday, March 20, and the "big" day that keeps popping up in the book is Saturday, March 31. Kind of eerie, I finished this book today, Saturday, March 31!!
Emily Graham, a defense attorney, decides to buy her ancestors' Victorian house in Spring Lake, New Jersey. This house is where her great, great, grandaunt, Madeline Shapley had lived, and the neighborhood where Madeline mysteriously disappeared in 1891. There is intrigue with the reincarnation aspect throughout much of the novel.
I only gave 2 stars because there are too many side stories, too many characters, and it didn't wrap up neatly enough at the end. I am not giving up on Mary Higgins Clark. I am sure there are many other good mysteries she has out there. This one just left me irritated, and exhausted.(less)