Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Slow Reading

Lately I've been trying to churn through the books in what Anne dubbed the Towering Pile. But then I decided to read Moby Dick, which is apparently so good my sister reads it every year. It's so dense that I read a page or two of it every other day, kind of like taking a few bites out of a super rich dessert.

You know it's going to take you a while to finish a book if it takes a week just to read the pages numbered with little Roman numerals at the beginning. This section of Moby Dick is a collection of 80 quotes that mention whales taken from the entire history of literature. calls Moby-Dick's epigraphs "little appetizers to the great entrée of a story" in a short, humorous explanation called What's Up with the Epigraph?. Melville couldn't just have one like most books; and he had to invent a character, the sub-sub librarian, to collect them.

All these food metaphors made me think of the slow food movement, and it turns out that yes, there is a slow reading movement too. But I don't think it will be enough to just read Moby-Dick slowly; I'll be checking back with Shmoop and looking at some of BHPL's books written about Moby Dick whenever I feel lost.

If you're interested in reading books more closely, Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer and John Sutherland's How to Read a Novel are on the shelf right now.

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