Last year I decided to expand my intellectual horizons by reading a series of American literary classics. Moby Dick was the first book on my list. It took me three months to finish this legendary story and, looking back on it now, I must say that it was worth every minute. To others who are considering this effort I say this: buttress your stamina and open your mind. This is not John Grisham or Tom Clancy. You will be reading high literature and you will be required to think. If you do so, Ishmael, Ahab and crew will open a window to some of mankind's most profound questions: Is it better to fight evil or promote virtue? Where is the line between honorable justice and blind vengeance? Do bad things happen because the universe is evil or just indifferent? The true pleasure to be derived from reading this book can be found by closing its pages every so often and reflecting on the questions that it will raise in your mind. A completely different experience than breezing through the latest best-seller, but much more rewarding.
Be aware that Moby Dick is many types of books in one. It is part adventure story, part sermon, part history of whaling, part encyclopedia of whale anatomy, part metaphysical allegory. Expect it to change periodically as you move through it, be receptive to each part, and don't try to compartmentalize it as any one particular type of work.