Call Me Ishmael (And Talk About a Book You Love)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moby-Dick, The Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby Moby-Dick, The Lord of the Rings, and The Great Gatsby

Logan Smalley, creator of Call Me Ishmael, set up a voicemail box and asked callers to leave a message about a book that changed their life. In return he got a flood of messages, anonymous and deeply personal, about the powerful experience of reading. He talks about the inspiration for the project, and we take calls with stories about books that have influenced you.

The Star-Belly Sneetches by Dr. Suess

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger


Logan Smalley

Comments [11]

Eugenia Renskoff from NYC

Hi, One of the books that I adored is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I never knew when I read it as a little girl that I would get to know Brooklyn and love it. And Francie, the heroine of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, loved learning and books, just like me. Eugenia Renskoff

Jul. 18 2014 01:22 PM
Simone from Manhattan, NYC

I recently finished "The Arabs" by Eugene Rogan. I have lived in Egypt several times and while there I encountered many Egyptians who still revere Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's second president. While I had never really understood many Egyptians' almost fanatical love for Nasser, Rogan's description of the historical context and events leading up to and during Nasser's reign left me understanding Nasser's lasting legacy.

Jul. 18 2014 12:06 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

My favorite book after the Bible is "Brave New World." I like books with prophecies that eventually come true.

Jul. 18 2014 11:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

This is the 2nd punctuation variation on the original line "Call me Ishmael." I've seen "Call me, Ishmael" (both intentionally & not); this is more like
"Call me. --Ishmael."

And it sounds like a great project. I'll have to think about which book to choose.

Jul. 18 2014 11:57 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Anything by Toni Morrison. But 'The Bluest Eye' is so insightful, profound and potent, it's like a bible.

Jul. 18 2014 11:57 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Why don't you have a show about great video games for a change? I'll throw out a few names: Deus Ex, Bioshock, TombRaider. Uncharted, Last of Us, all of which have great story telling and emotional impact.

Jul. 18 2014 11:56 AM
suzinne from Bronx

For me it was E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web." Our fourth grade teacher, a Sister of Charity, read a chapter a day to our class before we headed out for lunch break. Coming from a home where I was never even once read to or had any books whatsoever, it just opened up a huge world for me. To this day, am a voracious reader, and knew it all came that from sitting in that class and listening to that teacher of mine, Sr. James Carmel.

Jul. 18 2014 11:52 AM

I thought I hated to read until in fourth grade I read a little blue book in a series about famous people of US history. I read about Benjamin Franklin. Biographies have been a favorite of mine since.

Jul. 18 2014 11:48 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

The most influential book(s) for me is the four (4) volume Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. Mr. Adams covers so much, from grammar to philosophy to physics, and knows what to take seriously and what not, it's just an eye-opener, and riveting to read. I still give it as gifts to the uninitiated.

Jul. 18 2014 11:46 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Death on the Installment Plan or Journey to the end of the Night. Both are hilarious, anti-humanitarian and anti-authoritarian, and filled with memorable characters and black jokes. Dostoyevsky and Hemingway are close behind re: Brothers Karamazov and For Whom the bell tolls.

Jul. 18 2014 11:45 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Moby Dick was wonderful: to me an exploration of Catholic theology and experience. Melville was raised a Dutch Calvinist but struggled with the doctrines of Calvinism all his life. The book came out at the time of the first large Catholic immigration into the U.S. In spite of Lawrance Thompson's 'Melville's quarrel with God' 1974, I do think this is what he was doing, also exploring non-Calvinist Christian realities. The images he finds in whaling are some of the most beautiful analogies of Catholic theology I've seen, and the book is so large and good humored, truly America's greatest book. Huckleberry Finn, since Twain was an atheist or agnostic, just doesn't have the depth (no pun intended). From Thompson's commentary it seems that much of English literature can be read as a struggle with and commentary on Calvinist theology.

Jul. 18 2014 10:18 AM

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