Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
When I was in high school, I made an attempt at reading Moby Dick. I got through about 300 pages, and it bogged down. For a long time I wondered whether it stayed stuck, or whether if I had stuck with it, it would have improved. There have been times in other books that I have gone back and discovered the bog only lasted five pages. Well, a few years ago, I made another attempt on Moby Dick. I bogged down at about the same place. I set the book aside for many months. I finally disciplined myself to push through. It took a lot of pushing. There were few rewards. I had read the best part of the book in high school and had actually chosen the optimal stopping point.
I decided to list some other books I would recommend reading half way. Or reading until they bog down. There are many books out there that offer something, but where that something can be gleaned by less than a full read. Here is my own list. I won't tell you which ones I did or did not finish. I'll just say both kinds are included. I won't even say that none of these books is worth finishing. Just that I suspect the bulk of what you get out of it can be had early on:
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
The Tapestry by Edith Schaeffer
The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century by Perry Miller
I'm sure there's another list to be made of books that most people half read that should be finished. In my school years, I heard many lecture based on the first half of Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, and wished more would have wrestled with the second half.
Anyone else have books they recommend, but not as full reads?
3:36 am Pacific Standard Time