Call Me the Classics Slacker

I'm a Classics Slacker. Maybe you’re a classics slacker, too. 

Here’s how to tell. When you come across those "100 Greatest Books of All Time" lists are you shocked to discover that you’ve only read three? Or maybe you’ve read ten, but can’t remember anything except carriage rides, bonnets, and couples exchanging meaningful glances over embroidery.

Anyway, if this sounds like you, and it probably does, you will likely respond in one of two ways:

1.  With shame and self-loathing (especially if you were an English major, as was this Classics Slacker). To cope with these feelings, you pour a large glass of wine and, instead of reading something—anything—you watch When Harry Met Sally or The Princess Bride for the 103rd time.

2.  With renewed ambition. You drive to your nearest Goodwill and buy a handful of books that reliably appear on Greatest Books lists, such as Ulysses, Moby Dick, War and Peace, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, etc., etc., etc. (That’s the Latin abbreviation for “wow, how many of these books are there, anyway?”) Back home, you slide them onto your bookshelf, assuming you have one. There they will taunt you every day, increasing your already Les Miserables-sized self-contempt to the height and width of the British Library.

But no more, my fellow well-intentioned, literature-impaired friends! There is another way! The Classics Slacker is reading the classics so you don’t have to. No longer will you feel unworthy, uneasy, and a little bit nauseous every time you encounter a Great Books list.
How does it work? Say you never read Moby Dick, the first book covered in the Classics Slacker series. Or you tried to, but you fell asleep right after “Call me Ishmael.” So did the Classics Slacker. But after waking up, The Classics Slacker reopened the book, forged ahead, and summarized everything you need to know about Moby Dick.

Melville vs The Classics Slacker

Here's a brief history of Moby Dick followed by a solid argument as to why you should read The Classics Slacker Reads Moby Dick instead.

Written by American novelist Herman Melville, Moby Dick was published in 1851. Reading was one of only two forms of indoor entertainment back then; the other was attending parties where you were forced to listen to the host's daughter play the pianoforte.

Even though it had a lot of words that would kill many idle hours, Melville's novel was not well received. Everyone who even tried to read it hated it. Especially the parts about whales, which make up large portions of the book. 

Despite its ignominious launch, Moby Dick ranks way up there among the greatest books of all time. It’s certainly the fishiest. True, many literature experts contend for Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. But since Moby Dick is seven times longer than The Old Man and the Sea—and whales are way bigger than marlin—the Classics Slacker gives the nod to Moby Dick.

You might have noticed that the Classics Slacker spells Moby Dick without a hyphen. It often appears with a hyphen. The Classics Slacker has meticulously researched this hyphen/no hyphen question and still hasn’t reached a definitive conclusion. The decision to go hyphenless here was made really only to save keystrokes.

With or without hyphen, Moby Dick has 135 chapters. Among them: “Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes”; “The Great Heidelburgh Tun”; “Ambergris”; “A Bower in the Arsacides”; “Measurement of the Whale’s Skeleton.”

By comparison, The Classics Slacker Reads Moby Dick has fun illustrations and only forty chapters. Among them: “Ishmael Gets Laid”; “Call Him Ahab”; “You Don’t Know Dick”; “A Whiter Shade of Whale”; “Sperm! Sperm! Sperm!”.

Which book would you rather read? The Classics Slacker couldn’t agree more.