Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

So much work (and very early hours) is getting in the way of blogging yet again. And getting in the way of reading, though I have put forth a conscious effort to get some books done. If you follow my Good Reads, you know that I am on a pretty hardcore Chuck Palahniuk kick at the moment. I’m on my third of his books right now, and though I know I should transition back into the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die books, I think I’m just excited that I’m responding to an author again. Those entries are coming – but I’m going to try to lump all three together so it gives a better idea of how I worked through them.

Today’s book, however, is about as far from Palahniuk as you can get. It’s a book of short stories that has been in the ether for as long as I can remember, and has been part of the American consciousness for about a century. And yet, I had never read any of the stories, and I thought it was about time I fixed that.

With that in mind, Book 22 of Project 84 is:

Adventures of Sherlock

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Now, to clarify, I do have some experience with Sherlock Holmes. I saw the Robert Downey Jr. movies, I tried a few episodes of Elementary, and I’ve seen all of Sherlock, because who can say no to Benedict Cumberbatch? If you haven’t seen that show…you should. It’s amazing, and available on Netflix, so you really don’t have any excuse.

But the shows and movies are much different from the books, so my knowledge of Sherlock Holmes was pretty much limited to what was in the ether. I didn’t have a strong opinion one way or another on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but it didn’t seem all that appealing to me. But it turns out I was very wrong, because these stories were quite entertaining.

I’m not bothering with a real plot summary. Chances are that you, like I, have already heard enough about Sherlock Holmes to know what to expect. Basically, the book is a collection of short stories about master detective Sherlock Holmes. The narrator is John Watson, a doctor involved with Holmes who joins him on his mystery-solving escapades. Watson serves as a sidekick to Holmes, and, as a literary device, he’s the excuse for expositional dialogue – a reason for Sherlock to narrate what should be internal.

The “Donna Moss”, if you will, of this universe.

It took me a while to complete this book. I started it at the beginning of May, and just finished it a couple weeks ago. But I don’t think the extended time frame was indicative of how compelling the stories were, just the fact that the book is split up into short, easily-consumed segments, and it’s fairly easy to put the book down after you complete one story.

But I did make it through, and I was shocked by, for lack of a better word, how fun this book was to read. Since The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published in 1892, I expected the writing to be dry. I knew the stories were good – I’d experienced enough of them in other formats to understand that the narrative was strong – but I didn’t know what to expect from the format and writing style.

I think the humor is also part of what made this book so interesting to me. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is funny. There were jokes that made me laugh out loud, which was unexpected. Like I said, I thought the book would be dry, so the humor came as a surprise, and allowed me to respond more readily to a book from over 100 years ago.

If you’re also one of the people who managed to miss this book over the course of your lifetime, I would definitely recommend The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, and – as of a few days ago – it’s in the public domain, so it should be cheap if not completely free with an ereader. You can read it a story at a time and not get lost, so it’s a great book for people that don’t have hours to sit around and read.

That was a short one, but it’s hard to figure out what to say about a book with which most people already have some personal experience. If you get nothing else from this post, just know that I enjoyed it, thought it was funny, and I recommend it. 10 word review ;)

I’m still working on the pile of completed books on my desk. So you should expect a few more coming up, as I add more Palahniuk to the pile. I also plan to add some good summer reading books so that I can enjoy myself, and I can better recommend what you should read, and what you should avoid this summer. Because, if you’re like me, summer is all about reading.

Next Review: Invisible by Paul Auster (Expected Posting Date: Friday, June 20th)

**The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain**

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