Two possible activities for people who are afraid of reading Moby-Dick:
1. Read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. This incident was part of what inspired Melville to write Moby-Dick. In 1819, a whaling ship set out from Nantucket. Late the next year, the weak, rotting old ship was looking for whales in the middle of the Pacific when a sperm whale rammed it. The crew rigged their little whaling boats with masts and sails and set out for the Chilean coast. It was not a pretty voyage. The book gets you to thinking: well, if you're in a rowboat on the open ocean, and you're starving, and a guy dies, what are you going to do - throw him overboard or eat the meat? It's a great read - it was a bestseller a few years back.
2. Listen to this episode of Studio 360. (The links to listen to the whole show or download it as a podcast are at the top left of the page.) It's way shorter than either book - just under an hour. Studio 360 is a great public radio show about the arts. In this episode, the host talks to a bunch of smart people who love Moby-Dick, including Tony Kushner and Ray Bradbury. Here's your random fact of the day: Before Ray Bradbury was famous, he wrote the screenplay of the 1956 movie, which starred the spectacularly miscast Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab. I love me some Gregory Peck, but he's supposed to play romantic leads and noble lawyers, not revenge-obsessed amputees.