Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dewey's 24 Hour Reverse Readathon, with a Moby Dick Theme


I decide to spend Dewey's 24-Hour Reverse Readathon reading Moby Dick and Moby Dick-related books. The Reverse Readathon starts Friday, August 2nd at 8 pm EST and runs through August 3rd at 8 pm EST.

In case you missed it, Brona's Books is holding a Moby Dick Readalong, beginning this month. Here are some useful resources she oh-so-kindly bookmarks for us:

Moby Dick Podcast
Moby Dick Big Read

I find summaries of each chapter:

I check out books from my public library that I also plan to read. I find a children's version of Moby Dick, a comic book of Moby Dick, and a graphic novel of Moby Dick. In addition, I have the true story of Moby Dick, Moby-Dick in Pictures (with a drawing for every page), and Nathaniel Philbrick's Why Read Moby-Dick?

I find Abbott and Costello's Moby Dick (which really doesn't have much to do with Moby Dick at all) from February 13, 1947. Of course I had to start with Abbott and Costello:

"Now Moby Dick was swimming along and one day he saw a swordfish fighting with a mackerel. The swordfish stabbed the mackerel. Then he stabbed him again. And he stabbed him again. And again." 

"Poor little mackerel."

"Then he stabbed him again."

"That poor little mackerel must have been full of holes."

"Yep. He was a holy mackerel."

"Now Moby Dick didn't feel so good so he went to see the doctor fish."

"Doctor fish?"

"Yeah, he was a famous sturgeon."


"He was, too. He was a great fish-sician."

I find three movie versions of Moby Dick on Amazon Prime. I wonder which one is the best.

I make a music playlist on Amazon Prime: Moby Dick Music.

And you just can't have any sort of a readathon without snacks, right?

I think I'm set. Do you have any other resources for me? Ideas? Suggestions?


I am simultaneously listening to the podcasts and reading along in Power Moby Dick for Chapters 1-10. The readathon hasn't even started and I'm already 14% through the book.


Here's a lovely poem to kick off our Moby Dick: Things to Do in the Belly of a Whale by Dan Albergotti, read aloud starting at 2:50 by Garrison Keillor.

Bryan Waterman has lots of fascinating observations in his Top 5 Bits of Advice for First-Time Readers of Moby Dick.

This morning I learn that Herman Melville apparently wrote all of Moby Dick before meeting Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was Hawthorne who encouraged Melville to read broadly, and Melville did. The result of that wide reading was a complete revision of Moby Dick. Fascinating. Writer Austin Kleon concludes, "I believe that the first step towards becoming a writer is becoming a reader, but the next step is becoming a reader with a pencil." 

It's all out there, folks. Someone has apparently copied Melville's library, books filled with his scribbled marginalia. Take a look at that here.

I read along in Power Moby Dick while listening to the podcasts for Chapters 11-16.

HOUR 1-2

1)What fine part of the world are you reading from today? And what time is it where you are?
It's 7 pm, and I'm in Alvin, Texas, along the Gulf Coast.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
The comic book version of Moby Dick. I think I'll read that first.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? 
The Caribbean coconut gelato.
4) Do you have a #reversereadathon plan of attack?
All things Moby Dick.
5) Are you doing the readathon solo or with others?
Solo AND with others. Oddly.


Moby Dick (Classics Illustrated, No. 5) Comics – Color, 1943 by Herman Melville

I can now, in all honesty, say that I have read Moby Dick. Well, the comic book version, published at a time a comic book sold for fifteen cents, 1943. Comic book classics plus Cliff Notes is all that got my generation through college English, I think. All in all, not bad.  Forty-eight color pages (reduced from sixty-four, to conserve paper during the war). I especially love seeing Ahab's wildly manic face. 

HOUR 4-11



I'm back, listening to my Whale, Whale, Whale podcast while reading the online Power Moby Dick and browsing through the chapter summaries at Shmoop.


Listening to all of these podcasts has apparently twisted my brain toward the trivial, but I suddenly feel curious to explore the meaning behind the Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Nantucket cookies ("If you're going to have a cookie, have a cookie.") Why Nantucket? I wonder. I wasn't able to find out why, but I do find out that Taste of Home ranked the Nantucket #6 of fifteen Pepperidge Farm cookies its taste-testers tried. I also learn that Pepperidge Farm founder Margaret Rudkin began the tradition of naming cookies after cities after a Queen Mary voyage through Europe, and Pepperidge Farm has continued the tradition through their American collection. I like how the ad copy for the Nantucket says, "It's the kind of cookie that's more than a treat, it's an experience!" I'll take that.


Continuing on. As I am reading along in Power Moby-Dick, I notice the ad on the side panel is for Mack Weldon men's underwear. Mack Weldon, I learn, sells a 3-pack of Nautical Jersey Boxer Briefs for $72. Mack Weldon does not appear to sell women's underwear.


I begin three lists of vocabulary words from Moby Dick. One, of course, is a list of sailing words and whaling words. One is a list of great vocabulary words I'd like to start using. And one is a list of words that are not in general usage nowadays, but should be.

I finish Chapter 27.

HOUR 16-18

Behance has lovely illustrations of all the Moby Dick characters. Can you guess who this is?

Perfect to glance at this illustration, as I read through Chapters 28 and 29 and the captain at last makes his entrance. From the podcast: "It feels like as soon as the ship is out of the port, this book kicks into twelfth gear."

A helpful character chart.


I finish all the Whale, Whale, Whale podcasts (they go up to Chapter 32), and forge on, reading Power Moby-Dick through Chapter 35, 31% on my Kindle.

Moby Dick: 10 Minute Classics retold by Philip Edwards and illustrated by Adam Horsepool

Now I read Moby Dick: 10 Minute Classics, retold by Philip Edwards and illustrated by Adam Horsepool. It's a picture book version of Moby Dick, to be sure, much condensed, thirty-two pages versus the complete 655, but it's a nice abridgment, with all the key happenings, and enlivened by the clever caricatures drawn by the illustrator. 


The Whaleship Essex: The True Story of Moby Dick by Jil Fine

Yes, it's a book for elementary age children, but The Whaleship Essex: The True Story of Moby Dick was an excellent introduction for me into the events that inspired Herman Melville to write his masterpiece. The Essex left Nantucket and traveled around Cape Horn and up around the Pacific Coast of South America when the ship attempted to harpoon a whale in late November. The angry whale retaliated by striking the 238 ton whaling ship twice, causing the ship to sink. The crew abandoned the ship, and took to the three whaling boats. Of the twenty crewmen, only eight were rescued, and the rescues did not take place until February, March, and for the last three, April. It's a devastating story, and, now that I've read a condensed version, I want to read more. I'm off to reserve Nathaniel Philbrook's In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex to read soon.


Moby Dick based on the novel by Herman Melville, retold by Lew Sayre Schwartz, illustrated by Dick Giordano

The City of New Bedford, long considered the Whaling Capital of the World, set out in 2001 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Moby Dick with an informative book for students. This is that book. It has three main parts: a biography of Herman Melville, a nonfiction section about whales and whaling, and a graphic novel of Moby Dick for children. It's an ideal introduction to Moby Dick for young people. And the occasional elderly librarian.


Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

In this little book, written like a master's thesis from a besotted fan, Nathaniel Philbrick shares all his favorite lines and favorite themes and favorite issues from his beloved book, Moby Dick. Philbrick shows the contemporariness of Moby Dick through the issues Melville interweaves into his story as well as the timelessness of Moby Dick through the themes Melville touches upon. It's a love poem to Moby Dick, and I found myself reading the book while simultaneously marking passages in my Kindle version of Moby Dick to reflect upon later.

HOURS 23-24

Serendipitously, I have just enough time to finish off the readathon with a movie of Moby Dick, choosing the John Huston-Gregory Peck-Orson Wells-Richard Basehart version. Perfect ending to a lovely readathon.


  1. I have a Geronimo Stilton young readers graphic version of the story to read this weekend :-)

    Good luck!

  2. Ooh...the Abbott and Costello version. I'll probably start there, too!

    1. It was on Hoopla or Cloud Library or one of the other online library resources.

  3. That is a lot about Moby Dick. Oddly Ihave never read the book, least I cannot remember doing so. Maybe I should remedy that. Seen the Gregory Peck movie but not the others

    1. The podcast is so helpful, but I'm worried because it only goes up to Chapter 32 and there are 135 chapters.

  4. Love the Abbott and Costello bit! Thanks for the chuckle - maybe it will keep me awake for awhile ;) I just ready Moby Dick last year for the first time. I didn't love it, but feel like I should re-read it someday as there was a LOT to it. Hope you enjoy the RAT!

    1. I don't love it yet, and I'm 31% into it, but on I will go.

  5. I've read Moby Dick twice, both times in high school. I bet it would read a lot differently now! Good luck on the readathon!

    1. The online version, with sidebars explaining the references and the difficult words, is incredibly helpful. We had nothing like that in high school.

  6. I love that you chose a theme for your reading. I just hope to get through at least a book :-)

    1. The Moby Dick theme has sent me off into reading the Nathaniel Philbrick account of the true story that inspired Moby Dick.

  7. Wow!!!! I am really impressed by your Moby Dick readathon adventures! And I loved that you investigated the cookie and I had forgotten the "If you're going to have a cookie, have a cookie!" I also love that you make vocabulary lists!

    1. I do a thing up big. I tend to get a bit carried away, some might say.

  8. This challenge is a hoot! I have to go back and read your post carefully!

  9. Ooo, that marginalia link is cool. And the five bits of advice is helpful too, even if I am rereading. Glad you're enjoying a Moby-Dick immersion. :)


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