Books sometimes take effort

Published 12:08 am Saturday, March 5, 2011

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of short essays to encourage reading and celebrate Read Across America. Today’s contribution is by Hunter Albritton.

In my 10th grade Honors English class last year, our midterm assignment was to read a classic work of literature, write an essay on it, and give a seven-minute- long oral report to the class. When I was looking through the list of which works we could choose, Moby Dick by Herman Melville caught my eye.

I had heard things about Moby Dick – bad things. Our teacher even told us that it would be unwise to pick the book because none of her past students had successfully completed the 726-page monster. I decided to take that as a challenge.

I felt empowered after I read the first few chapters.

“Wow,” I thought, “this book isn’t about a whale at all. It’s a political critique, a religious apologue.”

As I continued reading, however, I realized that, although the book is brilliant and allegorical, it really is all about a whale. I slaved over that book for two months, forcing myself through chapter after chapter, until I finally turned the last page. At that moment, I was able to fully recognize its beauty.

Perhaps it was unwise to choose Moby Dick, if for no other reason, its sheer difficulty as a read, but I don’t regret it. Moby Dick gave me a whole new perspective on literature.

Books, like people, are always good. Sometimes it just takes a little effort to understand them.