We Struggle against the Classics as Ahab against the White Whale
“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.”Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Like Ahab in his battle against the White Whale, Classics are a mystery we would like to conquer, but that often seem beyond our reach.
They are a gigantic conglomerate of books facing you down from the shelves, daring you to pick them up, and taunting you with their high-flown language and slow, narrative pace.
They are terrifying. But everyone says it’s a good idea to read them. Everyone says they are the best written books of all time. Everyone is throwing around historical and literary references that you can’t follow because you haven’t read them!
Ok, not everyone. It might feel that way sometimes, but I’m going to be honest with you: almost every single person, no matter how well-read they are now, has struggled at one point or another with reading the classics. Really. Because, in all honesty: They. Are. Hard.
You know, it’s often the hardest things in life that are most worth doing, and, of course, it is those things that bring the greatest reward. *Heavy, despondent sigh*
But here’s the good news – the classics do not have to be as hard as they feel right now.
Conquering the White Whale is entirely possible, and to do so, you just have to master the smaller fish first!
(And remember, for every whale that you conquer in this life, you are a stronger, healthier, fuller person, that much closer to reaching your fullest potential, so every challenge is definitely worthwhile!)
PRACTICAL STEPS TO CONQUER THE WHALE
Step 1 – The Small Fish
Not all classics are created equal, and many are much easier than Moby Dick, War and Peace, A Tale of Two Cities, or the other large, heavy volumes we tend to think of when we hear ‘classics.’ And the beautiful thing is that, just because they are easier, they are no more less worthy of being read!
What is your favorite type of story? Mystery, Romance, Adventure?
There are classics for all types of people and all types of taste! And the best way to ease into reading classics is to read the ones you enjoy the most.
I have put together some goodreads lists for you of various genres so you can find a book you love in a genre you love! They tend to be short to medium length, and they each score either a 2 or a 3 star on my books rating system!
Step 2 – The Giant Marlins
When you’ve read some easier books, try one that’s 4 stars, and see how you do! If you’ve grappled well with that one, and you want to up the game…
Step 3 – The White Whales
THEN, it is time to tackle a 5 star book! And these are not for the faint of heart.
“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”
Like Ishmeal, none of us really knows what we are getting into here; for now, in our brave enthusiasm, we come against the greatest minds, the highest passions, and the most compelling stories of human history…
Come with me, and we will plumb the depths together.
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”― Herman Melville, Moby Dick