Finish this.

You know how at the beginning of January people pick a word to inspire them in the coming year?  Like, “Win” or “Thrive” or “Beauty”?  I never really do these because I don’t like rules even if they’re self-imposed but this year is different because I have a word.

I have begun reading Moby Dick about 380 times in my life and always give up after 200 pages.  That book is my white whale.  But this year I decided to finally finish it so that I could stop seeing it on my reading list and I was rewarded with passages like this one:

511 pages into Moby Dick. Still no white whale. So much sperm.

I read countless passages about whale anatomy, including an entire chapter about how you can turn a whale’s penis inside out and make it into a sleeveless raincoat.  A then in like the last few pages the whale finally showed up and at that point I was 100% rooting for him to destroy everyone including me.  And then it was done.

And I felt really happy.  Because I never have to read it again.  (Apologies to those of you who like it.  You are smarter than me and probably have less ADD.)

I felt a profound sense of accomplishment in finishing a book I’ve literally been reading since I was in hight school and I decided to take that forward and let this be the year of finishing.  Of finishing the book I’ve been writing and rewriting for years.  Of finishing this blog post that I started writing LAST YEAR but then got stuck in the draft folder.  Of finishing everything that I can that weighs over me.

Maybe not everything though, because to truly finish you have to die and I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for that so I guess sometimes it’s all about setting limits to your accomplishments so you don’t end up dead.

I’m writing it here so that maybe I’ll follow though and finish.  With luck I’ll soon tell you that I’m done with my next book.  And when I get stuck and doubt myself I’ll just remind myself that Moby Dick was all about sperm and making whale schlongs into robes and that thing was a damn classic so maybe I need to be just a little less hard on myself.

PS. There were no pictures in my copy of Moby Dick so I went online to look for whale penises and now I have to go burn my computer.  But before I do I thought I’d share this from reddit:

“The whale penis is prehensile, which means it can probe in search of it’s target.”

It’s waving, y’all.  I’m never going back in the water again.


174 thoughts on “Finish this.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Pingback: Finish.
  2. WHAT. This is the book Matilda is reading at the end of Matilda?? This is fucked up. Call child services, like, again. You’re a teacher, Ms Honey, you should know better.

  3. I read it as an audiobook. That’s the way I’ve been reading a lot of those “great books” that I’d been meaning to read someday and never got around to. They make rush-hour traffic more bearable, and I like them better than the drive-time deejays.

  4. I’m so proud of you! I’ve never read Moby Dick, but I have been trying for more than 40 years to read Atlas Shrugged all the way through. I even bought the movie so that I wouldn’t have to read it, but then never watched it. I love the idea of this year being the one where things finally get FINISHED. Jenny, that’s just BRILLIANT. Maybe I’ll finish crocheting the baby blanket I started 21 years ago for my god-daughter (so that she can give it to her 1 year old son). Or maybe (and?) I’ll finish the embroidered picture/thought-provoking saying that I started 4 years ago for my sister. I’m inspired! Thank you!

  5. Aaaak! For me it’s been the Iliad, and you can’t read the Odyssey until you’ve read the Iliad (I have a problem with doing this out of order) and I keep getting stuck on which translation to choose, and if the first page uses the word “anger” instead of “wrath” I just give up, because “wrath” is just – better. Maybe I should find a happier book, or just re-read all of Patrick O’Brian again.

  6. This reminds me of a part of the book “Fluke” by Christopher Moore, which explains how the protagonist’s ex-wife became a lesbian.

  7. Last year, almost without meaning it, I applied the word “intention” to the year. I think I will do the same this year, because I liked it so much. And it’s not an accomplishment so much as a WAY of accomplishing… with intention and on purpose.
    I never believed in that kind of cheesy vision-board stuff before, but it’s been wonderful for me.

  8. The ONLY way to get through Moby Dick is to SKIP the whaling passages (like the one you put above.) The one I could never finish was Grapes of Wrath. Honestly, I was hoping they all died in the dust bowl.

  9. You’ve inspired me to finish Lord of the Flies, which I first attempted to read in 6th grade (way back in 1981 or so) and just could not get through; it’s too much of a “boy” book for me. Never finished 1984 either……

  10. I have never made it past the first page of Moby Dick. I had a hunch it was not my kind of book. Now I’m sure. Or less sure. Or…something. Just like that passage. Something.

  11. I love the book (ok, English teacher here), and I also found the book to be very, very funny. Maybe it’s just my warped brain…but I am glad you posted one of the very weirdly funny bits, too.
    Congratulations. It’s horrifying to remember that many Americans read no book of any kind last year. Many have read no book since high school. Gaaaaa!
    Thanks for your weirdly funny books, too. There is a white racoon somewhere.

  12. They have been marketing that book wrong all these years. All they had to say was “Whale Penis Raincoats” and poof! it would be the new 50 Shades of Gray.

  13. It’s so nice to know that other people have a bunch of unfinished books and projects around the house. I don’t feel so useless now!


    I like it. I will try it.

  14. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read “Call me Ishmael” and then closed the book. This passage has not made me want to continue.

  15. I love this – I’m fighting the urge to have this be the year of “later” or “inertia”… I might have to borrow “Finish” from you. I do have to ask, did anyone just read that passage from Moby Dick to the beat of “Get Low?” Or is it just me?

  16. My Achilles heel is Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson. Long epistolary novel (love those), but I can’t get past the first 1/4 of the book. One day, dammit, one day!

  17. That damn book, Moby Dick, is my white whale as well. I was supposed to read it Junior Year but I could. It get through the first couple of chapters. When you mentioned ADD, I was like “that’s why”!!!! Thank Goodness it’s not just me.

    For that, I thank you.

    And I will probably use the blog post as having read the book bc ONE of us have done it. Scratched off my TO DO list at 45.

  18. One other thing. Isabelle Rossellini did a series of shorts called Seduce Me, about different animals mating rituals. She often dressed up in full on spandex body suits to become one of the animals. Anyway. It was disturbing AF, the worst being the whale. I had a hard time with aquatic life for a long time. If you need a little something to make your jaw drop and to feel normal again, you’re in luck. All the videos are on HouTube. ISABELLA ROSSELLINI SEDUCE ME, by the Sundance Channel. You’re welcome in advance.

  19. It’s one of my husband’s favorite books, and I just never can get through it. You definitely get a gold star for finishing that monster!

  20. Love, love, love your inspirational doinkness! And thank you for sharing your disdain for a “classic.” Personally, I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and throttle Tolstoy for the life I lost on reading “War and Peace.” For reals.

  21. You’re one up on me now. I was supposed to read Moby Dick in a college lit class, but could never make myself even start it. I’d heard about all those chapters on whale anatomy.

  22. I have a habit of always finishing books, even when I hate them. So this year I’m giving myself permission to NOT finish them. If I’m a third to halfway in and still don’t like it, I’m done. Life is too short to read books I don’t like. Especially when there are so many books that are left to be read.

  23. And it is finished. Thats a pretty good goal actually, just read one book a year that you can say you have read and then never have to read again. I think for me it would be ulysses. I have gone to several readings of it, but just go ADD mid way through.

  24. My first real laugh of the day after an unending night of nightmares. You, my dear, are a treasure. Did you know there are apps for forgiveness? I learned that this morning. My word this year is going to be forgiveness, followed closely by hope (I hope).

  25. accidentally focused in on “Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze! I squeezed that sperm” and I guess now I have to go back and read this whole thing because WHAT THE EVERLOVING EFF

  26. I can say I’ve never read Moby Dick and likely never will. We did, however, spend an obscene amount of time studying the opening lines of the book in one of my writing classes in college because apparently the are a genius lesson in writing… I obviously have learned nothing from this.

  27. Wow, whales, sperm, go Jenny! There’s so much weird “old” literature out there. One of the grossest quotes is even older than “Moby Dick” (shouldn’t the name of the novel be warning enough!), it’s from the Bible, ekk! “She played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose emissions were like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.” (Ezekiel 23:18-21). Dude, super gross, but fitting, given today’s subject matter 😉

  28. I’ve tried reading it several times too. Never get far. Read In the Heart of the Sea: The Story of the Whaleship Essex instead. It was the inspiration for Moby Dick. And much easier to read. Until they start eating each other.

  29. I’ve never ready Moby Dick. Perhaps Geoff has, I don’t know. (He probably has, more than once.) But that excerpt your put up there? That nearly put me to sleep. That was enough, I’m going to call it finished. Thank you for that, Jenny.

  30. Please let this image inspire the cover of your next book or next year’s Christmas card. My phrase will be, “2019: Milk it.”

  31. Google “whale sex”, or better yet, search for it on YouTube. Enlightening.

  32. Just in case people are worried/horrified/aroused…

    The ‘sperm’ here is spermacetti which is the fatty goop found in the head of the sperm whale. The raw stuff does rather look like actual sperm, but it’s nothing of the sort. Spermacetti was sent to be refined into sperm whale oil which was incredibly valuable stuff – not only did it give the best light when burned in a lamp, it was by far the best lubricant (steady now) for the high-speed (I’m warning you), high-temperature machinery made possible by steam engines. In fact, sperm whale oil was still being used to fill the automatic transmissions of cars well into the 1960s. It’s now incredibly illegal to make, sell or carry the stuff.

    Shall we now do ambergris? Despite what those old romantics in the perfume industry want to tell you, it’s not sun kissed, wave-washed whale vomit, it comes out the other end…

  33. I was reading this thinking “yeah, I get you Jenny. Totally.” Then I saw the pic of the whale dick and what you wrote. I snorted my coffee and spilled it everywhere.

  34. I’m weirdly horrified and inspired. Since that seems to be the usual reaction to your posts i’d say you’re on the right track.

  35. Why on earth would anyone want a sleeveless raincoat made out of a giant penis? Stuff of nightmares!

  36. I’ve started reading it several times, and other than the first, with determination to finish it. Great opening chapters, love the characters and action…and then he digresses. Thank you for giving me an excuse to never pick it up again!

  37. Why do they make students read such awful books? Catcher in the rye, what a whiner. The great Gatsby was not. Moby Dick, gah! And don’t get me started on the Scarlet Letter. What are your personal white whales as it were.

  38. They tried to make us read that book in high school. We only got a few chapters in before even the teacher abandoned ship. I barely remember how incredibly boring it was. All I remember was that when the teacher made us read passages aloud she’d make us act some of it out. Some poor kid had to walk in circles around the room the entire class period pretending to be a whale.

    I now wonder what they would have made him do when it got to the part about the raincoat…

  39. I never enjoyed the book but there’s a wonderful scene in Star Trek: First Contact where Patrick Stewart’s character quotes from Moby Dick. He’s an incredible actor and it’s one of my favourite movie scenes. Call me Ishmael if you like, but those lines alone are worth watching the film, even if you don’t like Star Trek.

  40. On a whale watching trip my companions and I were treated to seeing a whale penis about 3’ long. My ever so modest boss, a Philippine physician said, “I feel like we’re invading their boudoir.” Even though he was a gray whale, it was very pink but not as pointed.

    Never went whale watching again, I’d seen it all😖

    Sent from my iPhone


  41. My word is going to have to be unfinish. I’m flinging books down unread after the first few pages like they were used paper towels. Flinging isn’t the correct verb as they’re actually going to Kindle purgatory, where out of sight, really is out of mind.
    I don’t know why I’m being so picky but I like to think that it’s because I’m accepting that my life is too short to read books that I don’t love.

  42. It took me 3 years to get more than 50 pages into Game of Thrones, and that’s a book people generally like! I don’t know how many times I tried, but it was just so incredibly boring. Glad I read the series so I can talk to other people about it, but I’m never doing that again.

  43. My high school senior English teacher gave us an abridged version that she had made. Probably because of passages like this. The blowback from parents and snickering in class would have made her miserable.

  44. I was supposed to read “The Importance of Being Earnest” for three different classes through high school and various college degrees…I still haven’t read it thirty years later and probably never will, and I’m okay with that. Too many other, more interesting books out there to read!

  45. Wait Moby dick is a whale? I thought it was one of those stories like waiting for Gadot….

  46. Yeah . . . I no longer feel bad for being a literature major and not having read Moby Dick, thank you very much!

    Now can someone give me a similar excuse for War and Peace. . .? 😀

  47. Look, I’m all for this year being a year of finishing things but I draw the line at my never-finished tome – Thomas Pynchon’ s Gravity’s Rainbow. Feel free to read that for me.

  48. You are not alone in your dislike of Moby Dick. I’ve never finished it but it’s not on my list because frankly I think it’s terrible writing. I had to read another of Melville’s books in college and only managed to slog through it for class. Not sure why he’s so well-liked/respected. However, you have inspired me to choose a classic I’ve never read and finish it this year so thank you!

  49. I am conjuring up the Church Lady and her “Well, isn’t that special” and then laughing at all the double entendres I can come up with. I think my 2019 word is “perverse.” 😉

  50. My heart goes out to you, Jenny. I realized last year that I’d never read Moby-Dick, not even one word, but it seemed like “Call me Ishmael” was popping up in everything else I read, so screw it, I read the whole damn book. Every single word. On the first try. My favorite hangout these days is Twitter because I got old and my attention span is shot. But yep, you and I are both members of a rather elite club whose members have read every single word of Moby-Dick. But how in the hell did Melville miss the prehensile penis part? He wrote everything else there is to know about a whale, no matter how boring.

  51. Well I guess I’ll just add “Whales have prehensile penises.” to that long list of trivia questions I’ll never need the answer to.

  52. I think everyone who has ever read Moby Dick is rooting for the whale by the end of the book. I did finish it in high school and more than 30 years later, all I can remember is that there was a ship and a whale. Not even descriptions of whale sperm would get me to read it again.

  53. Wonderful post! Now, I know everything I need to know about MD and will not have it on my list of future reads.

  54. Felt like that was a Dickens version of “50 Shades of Grey”. Very spermy.

  55. I read Moby Dick decades ago on the bus going to and from college. I read it for fun, not a class, skipping all the boring parts (thank you for giving me a taste (ick) of what I missed). It was perfect for the bus ride because the chapters (not the boring ones)are really short and if you skip the boring parts it’s a really good adventure tale. I have never read War and Peace and don’t intend to. One of the great things that I realized years ago (after compulsively feeling that I have to finish every book I start) is that I don’t have to read anything that doesn’t engage me. With so many books in the world why waste time reading anything that doesn’t ring the bell?

  56. Related (and quite inappropriate but I have to share because I’m tipsy right now), did you know DORK is slang for penis??? For a long time though, I thought it was the true word for a whale penis.

  57. True story: I was kicked out of my 10th grade literature class because I was reading the passage about sperm above, aloud. With great inflection….

  58. Wow, coincidence. I’ve been reading Moby Dick for a couple months and had just read the passage in the screenshot.

  59. Instead of “finishing” being your theme, try “following through”. Less fatalistic and more committed.

  60. my senior year, two weeks into june, we were given moby dick to read. i read all of the other books, but one week till graduation to read this? nah, had better things to do. so recently ( 40 years later) i tried to read it, read about two chapters maybe, and decided it was not for me. however i very much would like the word “squeeze” to be my inspirational word for this coming up year. thank you for that. im still giggling…

  61. Really “group hug!” would have covered most of that. And at the age of 71 I now applaud myself for having successfully eluded “Moby Dick” all these years. But I have “Finnegan’s Wake” on my list for this year,so I might still be in trouble. The difference being that NOBODY thinks you should read “Finnegan’s Wake” so I can still be a rebel.

  62. does this mean we all have to go to Finishing School? because that is Way the fuck outta my wheelhouse.

  63. I was literally scrolling past the whale penis picture when my boss walked in and gave me a heart attack. I think I’m done for the day!

  64. I USED to Finish every book I began, however, as many of the above posts say, life is too short to spend it reading books you just don’t like. I read Moby Dick because I HAD to, same with Ethan Frome, Scarlet Letter and many more. That was school, this is life, and I see fewer days in my future than in my past. I LOVE reading, but I’ll read what I like, not because it is a so-called classic. YOUR books are classics AND great reads! I’m looking forward to the next adventure.
    BUT I WILL FINISH the quilt I started for my younger daughter’s wedding. They just had their 8 year anniversary, so it’s about time!

  65. I just read an article about the worst written by a man sex scenes in 2018 literature. NOW we know where James Frey got his inspiration from.

  66. I live in CT, near Mystic Seaport, home of the Charles W. Morgan, last surviving wooden whaling ship in the world…every year, in August, people gather in the foc’sle on Melville’s birthday to do a marathon reading of Moby Dick… I did this once and decided that there is not enough rum in the world to persuade me to do that again… and FYI- I do NOT recall THAT passage…but maybe because by that point, I had given up and come back home to watch fireflies and drink gin and tonics. A much better use of an August evening.

  67. elephants have five foot prehensile peni too. you haven’t lived until you’ve seen an elephant peni in search of it’s “target” 🤣

  68. “Of finishing everything that I can that weighs over me.” — Well, that hit me right in the (perceived) reality. Stopped me short.

  69. There are very few books that I’ve walked away from. Each time was a conscious decision, with the reasoning that I just. wasn’t. enjoying. it. When I was 19, I forced myself to complete the Lord of the Rings trilogy out of some sense of obligation, even though I found that, early in, it was a slog. Never before or since have I progressed so slowly with any book or series, and I promised myself that I would never torture myself for the sake of pleasure reading again!

  70. I was the only person in my high school class that chose to read all of moby dick. For some reason I love the book. I think i was a Nantucket whaler in a past life.

  71. Now that I am comfortable slotting “Moby Dick” as a must-miss, I’ll use the would-be empty space at the end of this comment to brag that I’ve read “Don Quixote.” Twice. Thought it was good. #nosperm

  72. pretty sure I’m going to spend the rest of the evening looking up penises of large animals, and penises of aquatic animals, and penises of snakes, and any other penises that might be weird. Wait–all penises are weird.

  73. I’m gonna recommend you put Ahab’s Wife on your reading list. I loathed Moby Dick (of course, the fact that I had to read it while I had mono may explain some of it), but Ahab’s Wife is written from the perspective of the woman waiting for his return – and she’s got quite a backstory herself. While you couldn’t pay me enough to read MD again, I’d reread this reimagining in a skinny minute!

  74. SAME. I finally managed to finish in December and I felt the same way. I think Melville just had a huge desire to write a whale text book, but could never be bothered with the amount of research required. Reading Moby Dick ain’t for the faint hearted, so congratulations on finishing off the white whale.

  75. You can see all sorts and sizes of penises at the Penis Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland. One was taller than me.

  76. The title ‘Moby DICK’ has taken on an entirely new aspect, don’t you think???

  77. Mine is Middlemarch, I have started it at least 10 times, I even tried the audiobook, just cant seem to do it.

  78. People only call books “classic” because someone made them read it and they’re too embarrassed to admit that they totally didn’t understand it. Then they declare that it artistic literature and force others to read it because misery loves company! And when other people figure they actually have a life already and DON’T read it, the readers of “classics” apply extreme peer pressure and make those arro

  79. I’ve GOT to read that one. I read “The Stupidest Angel” and laughed out loud! (you know, LOL is more efficient I guess.

  80. …arrogant sounds of disapproval to feel better about the fact that they were tricked into reading something they didn’t understand. There. NOW that I’m done with my reply.

  81. I think my word for the year will be “procrastinate”, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll think about it and decide later.

  82. And then there’s D.H. Lawrence:

    Whales Weep Not!
    D. H. Lawrence, 1885 – 1930

    They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
    the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

    All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
    on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
    The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
    there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of
    the sea!

    And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
    on the depths of the seven seas,
    and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
    and in the tropics tremble they with love
    and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
    And over the bridge of the whale’s strong phallus, linking the
    wonder of whales
    the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and
    keep passing, archangels of bliss
    from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
    that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the
    great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.
    And all this happens in the sea, in the salt
    where God is also love, but without words:
    and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
    most happy, happy she!

    and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin
    she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea
    she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males
    and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.

    From The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, edited by V. De Sola Pinto & F. W. Roberts. Copyright © 1964, 1971 by Angela Ravagli and C. M. Weekly, Executors of the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

  83. Thank you! I could never finish that book, either. It was exhausting just trying to read his literally page long sentences. And, thank you for the resolution about finishing. Things are hanging over me as well. I am determined to do some finishing of my own. Happy New Year!

  84. I used Moby Dick as a sleep aid for about a year; I don’t think I made it through two chapters at a time. Perhaps I’ll put Tolkien to the same use next.

    A Tale of Two Cities, on the other hand, is a genuine page-turner.

  85. I love to read. Read all the time. I’ve read the English classics, American classics, Russian classics. I giggled all the way through Ulysses. I’ve also read many a craptastic novel. I have a broad scope of genre interests. And I’ve learned to trust myself. As a child, educators pushed the wrong Dickens novels into my noodle. My savior? My mom. Every month or so she would put a book into my hands and say READ it. And so that’s how I found The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, my old pal Nancy Drew and a host of others. Some books, like Shogun, were forbidden…weirdly. All of those I devoured as an adult with unmonitored reading habits. AND NOW, thanks to you, Dear Jenny, I don’t have to feel bad about never reading Moby Dick. I would have rooted for the whale as well!

  86. Moby Dick has just slipped down my reading list to share a position with 50 Shades of Grey.

  87. My lifelong intense mistrust of nature has now been validated by this nightmarishly nauseating photo. WHY…nature…why???

  88. According to a random podcast episode I once listened to, whale threesomes are the source of a lot of old stories about ships encountering giant tentacled animals in the ocean.
    Some whale breeds (the Grey whale is one) have been known to mate in a trio of two males and a female. The exact reason for this is unknown, but simple logic means that a) they’re near the surface and b) one of those males is just kinda floating there, with his 2m long penis er, doing what you see in the picture.

    So people on old ships would see this apparently huge sea creature thrashing about in the water, catch a glimpse of that man-sized….appendage… and come to the conclusion that this must be a motherhonkin’ Kracken.

  89. That last line is so funny, it almost threw me off what I wanted to say.

    There is currently a bash the classics meme. Moby Dick is where it belongs; a masterpiece. It may have been inspired by historical events, but its actually overriding theme is greed. Captain Ahab is the psychopath who thought he could conquer nature. In the end undone by his own self-obsessed greed. Very timely…

  90. Wow. How this book wasn’t made into an episode of ‘Sex & the City’, I demand to know. So much sperm that someone could drown in it! And the book used an exclamation point, which many modern writers would eschew.

  91. I’ve been trying to read through so many books I don’t know how no one ever assigned to me in school…and got hung up on Romeo & Juliet. Last year I gave myself permission to NOT finish it. Even though this year’s goal for me is to finish (tie up a whole lot of loose ends), I’m STILL not going to read it. And I’m not going to read Moby Dick either. Because those 2 photos scared me — the text clip and the whale anatomy alike.

  92. Now I wonder if J. Michael Straczynski knew about whales when he created the Centauri for Babylon 5.

  93. I’m back. Now I wonder if “Moby Dick” was a typo. Maybe it was SUPPOSED to be “MOBILE”.

  94. My word for this year is “try” but still I refuse to even attempt Moby Dick. If anything, I feel even more vindicated in this decision now.

  95. A whale dick is also the definition of the word dork. My teenagers loved it when they found this out and now call all their friends dorks again.

  96. So is your word for the year “finish” or “squeeze”? Or maybe it’s “sperm”? … and upon seeing that last picture, I now need to burn my eyeballs

  97. I’ve never read Moby Dick but Ahab’s Wife was amazing. I missed that books for weeks after I read it.

  98. Thanks, Jenny, because now I can take Moby-Dick off my reading list. I don’t want to read it.

  99. I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert: “I don’t want it to be perfect, I want it to be finished.”

  100. I always said that someone would have to pay me a million dollars to read either Moby Dick or War and Peace. That still applies for me. Congrats on reading Moby Dick without having to be bribed. And I am grateful there is nobody willing to PAY ME A MILLION DOLLARS to read it. Life is indeed to short. Although if I were being paid A MILLION DOLLARS, I’d reconsider.

  101. I see your finish and I add intention. For all of us with anxiety, I also want “Be”. If I can only have one, I take Be. Be present, be in the moment, be intentional, relax and just Be.

  102. I think everyone has said what is going through my head. All I can think is that Melville was just another guy making penis jokes in his era. I cannot imagine him keeping a straight face while writing that passage, but just snickering away. Guys wearing whale penis coats and squeezing sperm and each other’s hands squeezing….

  103. Hi Jenny, I just started following your blog last month, and seeing the Moby Dick post confirms i belong here!! I read it four years ago, as an exercise in will power. Turned out I loved the book, both fascinated and horrified by the whaling industry. My love of this book is definitely not proof that I’m smarter than you, it just proves i’m masochisticer (like what smarter is to smart) than you.

  104. A whale penis is called a dork. Something I learned somewhere along the way and will probably never come up in Final Jeopardy.

  105. That picture is disturbing lol

    Re: the dork = a whale dick…I remember the time I called my dad a dork and he got upset. I thought he being crazy, but then I found out the other meaning. This did nothing to deter me from using it in my blog name, though.

  106. So, I’ve attempted to read that monster of a book for a while… even got the fancy hardback edition… never gonna happen.. I think I listened to the first chapter of the audiobook and gave up. It’s just SO boring!!! and my ADD may have something to do with it but all I kept thinking was ‘I do NOT care… please stop…’ the whole time I was listening to it.
    Thank you for actually reading it I’m sorry that you’ve had to re-read it so many times. I have also been listening to the ‘classics’ that I should have read when I was younger but didn’t for whatever reason. I choose audiobooks because that’s easier to do while I make stuff (knit/crochet mostly)…

    my word intention for the year is CHANGE. because sometimes it is good… usually bad but good too.. I’m hoping for positive change.

  107. Thank you for showing us this page I for sure will NOT be reading this book. At 54 I’ve given up forcing my brain to get through some of the classics and just read what I love. Is it really going to matter that I die having not read those books? Nope! Also I too am trying to finish things, I have so many unfinished art projects that I really want to get these things done and file them away or burn them if I end up not liking them.

  108. My white whale is the other “Ulysses,” by James Joyce. “Finnegan’s Wake” is even more trying.
    Makes Moby Dick look like a walk in the park.
    Maybe someday . . . sigh.

  109. I was an English major in college. I LOATHED Moby dick. That was probably the only redeeming passage in the whole damned book, and it was only redeeming because it was the most mockable thing EVER.

    Hated. That. Book.

    My advice: NEVER read Wuthering Heights. That one sucked too.

  110. “FINISH,” I love it. You’ve inspired me yet again, because I never finish anything (except food-my plate is always a happy plate). First, you inspired me to blog by making fun of my various mental illnesses, and I was having fun doing it, too, and then I signed up for a blogging class which basically told me I was doing everything wrong because I blog by writing down whatever pops into my addled brain at any given moment. Family vacations were a Godsend because everyone in my family is crazy. Apparently, that is exactly what you’re not supposed to do. But, it’s so fun. But by God, I’m going to finish this class now and not ask for a refund. So far, I’ve been critiqued five times on my first blog post for the class, and five times I was gently but thoroughly told that the post wasn’t good enough to hold the average reader’s attention span through to the end. It seems I have a huge problem with coming up with gripping subheads. I was ready to quit yet again, then you come out with “FINISH,” And that’s exactly what I’m going to do-finish this class come hell or high water. Thanks Jenny. And congrats for finishing”Moby Dick.” I read the one passage, and I’ll now never be able to squeeze anything without the word “sperm” coming to mind.

  111. I am now so happy that I never read that book. Thanks for doing it for me.

  112. Oh my God!! Ewww! Now I’m wondering where in the world on the whale’s body is this thing located? In the picture is he swimming upside down? Or is his penis on his back? LOL! Just how my mind works!

  113. I’ve been trying to read Johnathan Franzen’s ‘The Corrections’ since 1999. The book is so dreadful to me. But I think since this marks year 20 I’ll actually finish it. You’ve inspired me !

  114. So I was reading this on the train ride home yesterday and I dozed off with my phone in my hand bc my 1 year old is teething hard and there is not much sleep happening in my house. Later that evening I opened up my photos and found two whale penises. Needless to say I was very confused bc the whale penis photo hadn’t finished loading before I dozed off. Apparently my sleeping self decided that we needed to save that whale penis photo for later use.

  115. Well at least we know that whale finished (HA!). You are either a saint or a glutton for punishment or both. I read ‘Billy Budd’ (also by Melville but much shorter) in high school and it was TERRIBLE!. I swore never to try Moby Dick based just on that. Congratulations, I guess?

  116. Boy, you’re better than I am. I never read it in high school and now have decided to never attempt to read it in this lifetime. Thanks for saving me the time and aggravation! Your post was a Public Service Announcement.

  117. Had I actually read this passage before submitting my 9th grade book report, I think that the ensuing parent/teacher conference would have been a bit more interesting. (Catholic HS probably edited out this bit, though.)

  118. I forgot you have a blog! Well, not forgot, but forgot to read it — I’m still resisting twitter but I enjoy your instagram posts and stupid Facebook never tells me anything I want to know any more. All of a sudden the other day, I thought, hey! and went and looked and had weeks and weeks of lovely posts to catch up on! I hope your throat is ok and your mom is ok and have a wonderful 2019… I’ll try not to wait till 2020 to read about it! My word of the year, thanks to you, is Think — gotta fight back against the internet and my phone killing my brain! Nanci.

  119. I went to the Penis Museum in Reykavik Iceland in October. There is a sperm whale penis in the exhibit, in a round clear plastic case. It’s taller than I am and I am 5 foot 8.

  120. I have a game at my house called DICK that is like Cards Against Humanity, but the responses are completely based on the text of Moby Dick. It might be better than CAH.

  121. Quite a few years ago the Oregon Symphony did a concert of “space music”, themes from Star Wars and Star Trek. The guest that night was William Shatner, who did a monologue about whales. If you ever doubted what a ham he is, this would have convinced you. Part of the monologue was about whale, uh, procreation. He talked about the THRUSTING, POUNDING, MONSTROUS SURGING of whale sex. It was hilarious. What this had to do with space epics I’ll never know.

  122. We were given a choice to read Moby Dick or some other books at my school, I chose something else, I’d already looked at it out of curiosity and decided it was not worth the effort to read. These days I might look at a book some people or a person thinks is important one to read, but I feel no need to finish it if I don’t like it. It’s a waste of time that I could use for something else enjoyable or productive. If I absolutely feel I need to know more about it I will google a detailed synopsis.If I care about the person and they want me to comment on the book, I ask them to go into detail on what they liked about it and what was important in it as a take away. In the case of Moby Dick I’m guessing it is w̶h̶a̶l̶e̶ ̶s̶p̶e̶r̶m̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶p̶e̶n̶i̶s̶e̶s̶ a long gone way of hunting and the nature of obsession.

  123. Being the mom of 3 teen boys, my mind immediately went to the word D* ck fof your year… 😎
    Save me from this testosterone bath!🙄

    Just have to say that my13 year old son LOVED your 2nd book. I waffled on letting him read it, but he is old beyond his years with depression and anxiety. We laughed together. And as a single mom of three boys ( anmoying ex-husband who doesn’t believe in depression) I love you for it. 😍❤

  124. Moby Dick was my very literary sister’s favorite book for a long time. I think LOTR dethroned it. She’s weird though. I read it, and finished it, and the only thing I remember are character names and the fact that the whale waited until the last minute to make his entrance. Good for you!

  125. Congratulations on finishing that book. I went from someone who loved to read novels to someone who could not read more that a newspaper article. I started one book in February 2017 and finished it in February 2018. I started the next book in February 2018 and finished it after my life had a major shake up in July 2018. I am now reading a book in a month and am hoping to be able to go back to the days of reading a novel in a week again. Hopefully your next one?!!?

  126. I suck at social media so I just read this post and now I’m sorry I did. My daughter in grade 4 is reading his book in her spare time in class and now I really hope she has little spare time because I don’t really want to have a conversation with her about what that guy is talking about (not yet at least!). I guess I better finish reading in too.

  127. I need to know why they were squeezing whale sperm! My brain is going to return to this question in odd moments. Tapioca.

  128. My husband, who is 1, not a reader, and b, has ADD, read Moby Dick while impriso–, er, serving on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam for 10 months. I have not read it nor do I intend to ever attempt it. You and he have my undying admiration.

  129. For me it is Anna Karenina. 80 paces in and I can’t take it any more. For at least 30 years and counting.

  130. I guess the book should be re titled “Moby’s Dick”! Watch out the book police/censors are coming for your book Herman!

  131. My mom hated this book so much she gleefully chose it when I was a child to make a wreath for our “reading room” (just an office) JUST so she could drill holes through it with power tools. My mom loves books.

    That told me everything I needed to know about Moby Dick

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: