✰✰✰½ Facing the challenge of reading Herman Melville's Moby-Dick this summer, I picked up this little book of essays looking for motivation. The chapters are short and insightful; Philbrick includes information about everything from whaling to whaleships, from Nantucket to chowder. Additionally, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at Melville's life as he wrote his masterpiece, his struggles with his writing, and his experience working aboard a whaleship. Additionally, other chapters help explain Melville's dry humor, wit and use of characterization. Finally, of particular interest to me was the information about Melville's friendship with author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The Bottom Line: Whether you are attempting to read Moby-Dick for the very first time or rereading it for the fifth, Why Read Moby-Dick? is a helpful primer with insight into both Melville and his classic novel. This compact collection of essays is a quick read and not at all imposing. Author Nathaniel Philbrick has indeed motivated me to read Moby-Dick. I'll also be reading Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea later this Summer for my book club, so I'm excited to see how this all comes together. Recommended for those reluctant to read Moby-Dick for the first time and for those needing a fresh view of the classic work.
Details: Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick. Hardcover published by Viking in 2011. 144 p. ISBN: 978-0-670-02299-1