A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the second Sherlock Holmes story I have read (the first was The Hound of the Baskervilles), and I have to say I remain surprised by the way they read. I suppose it is the enormous fame of the characters, the familiarity with which I felt I had with them before ever reading one of the original stories that set me up for the subtle shock they’ve given me. And at the same time I’m not surprised at all; having read Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, I was already familiarized with his writing style.

Sherlock Holmes Pipe

The Sherlock Holmes stories are very different from what you may think of as a detective or mystery novel today. If you read a modern mystery novel, subtle clues are laid out for you and persuasive writing leads you to a certain conclusion by the end of the story. A good mystery will probably have left other clues you were unaware of that will satisfy a twist ending you weren’t expecting. This novel is not like that. There are clues, yes, but goaded by questions from Dr. Watson, generally they are explained quickly and thouroughly by Sherlock Holmes leaving the reader wanting for the grand finale type reveal at the end. There is explanation at the end, a final run through if all clues and deductions in the case, but it felt very anti-climactic for me.

The other thing that surprised me about this novel was the sharp change in setting in the middle of the book. With no warning at all, suddenly you are reading a completely different story. I actually stopped the book and went on goodreads to make sure my audible download hadn’t messed up somehow. One moment you are in the thick of the investigation (the supposed bad guy has been captured!), and the next you are on another continent as an old man and a young girl are rescued in the desert by the Mormons…..it was jolting, and it didn’t make sense until much later. I am still on the fence about how effective it was. After the story was all said and done I did really enjoy having all of that background knowledge that explains the murderer’s motive intimately, yet I think it could have used a transition to anchor the reader a little bit. Perhaps if I had been reading a physical copy it wouldn’t have been so bad, that is a possibility.

Speaking on the characters themselves and the set-up of what has turned out to be an infinitely famous crime-investigating duo, I was pleased enormously. The book is written from Dr. Watson’s perspective, I believe the reader is to believe the words have been taken from his journal. It opens with the explanation of Watson’s history as a doctor with the British Army, and how he ended up in poor health recovering in London. On a search for a flat mate, he is introduced through a mutual acquaintance to Mr. Sherlock Holmes. After finding one another agreeable, they move in together. Watson is unsure at first what Mr. Holmes’ occupation may be, it is the first mystery of the novel, and once he discovers he is a consulting detective he is endlessly fascinated and becomes a tag-along to the current case. The rest, as they say, is history.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was different from what I had expected (again, I don’t know why I expected anything different), but in the end it was a very pleasant book to read, and it came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading more of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I could probably stand to reread THotB.

On another note, I need to do some reading about the foundations of Mormonism. …cause if what this book suggests is true…yikes!

E.

 

June Reading Wrap Up

Hello friends – I hope your month of reading in June was as good as mine! I will just go ahead and admit right now that the last several years of my life have basically been one big reading slump, so the fact that I read 5 (FIVE) books in June makes me feel freaking awesome! So since I actually have something to talk about, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post summarizing my month in reading.

Total Books Read:: 5
10 Books of Summer Challenge:: 4/10    (see my book list here)
Classics Club Challenge:: 2/50     (see my book list here)

I started June with a mission: finish Gone With the Wind. I usually have issues finishing longer books, and I don’t know why. It’s so bad that I’ve been calling it a curse! The only way I’ve been able to get through doorstop books are by reading them either on an e-reader (The Stand, Stephen King), or as an audiobook (Game of Thrones books 2 & 3…and half of 4). Well, I am happy to say that the curse appears to have broken! I finished Gone With the Wind, my copy has 1,024 pages, in 25 days! I cannot adequately express how proud this makes me without making myself sound ridiculous, but ah who cares. I’m awesome!

However…

I still feel like I’m in a little bit of shock from it. It is not the book I was expecting…at all. To be fair, I didn’t really have any expectations about it going in, but I was expecting it to blow me away. After all, sooo many people say this is one of their favorite books ever. I’ve been keeping reading journals here on the blog after finishing each Part, but I am still gathering my thoughts on an actual full-book review. If you are interested in reading those, here are the links:   Part I   Part II   Part III   Part IV
I found the movie on Amazon Video, so I am planning to watch that and possibly blog about it as well.

I finished the rest of the four books I read this month on audio. The first was the only non-fiction book I read this month, The View from the Cheap Seats. I’ve already blogged my thoughts on this book here,  but I’ll say it again – I highly recommend it for anyone who loves Neil Gaiman, or anyone who is a fan of comics, or writers, or the science fiction genre, or literature in general.

Next I listened to a book called The Girl You Left Behind (my review is here). This book was recommended to me by a friend at work numerous times. I was on the fence about reading it since I didn’t love Me Before You, also by Jojo Moyes, but she finally convinced me. I was surprised at how dark it was, and ultimately I really enjoyed it. It had some issues, but overall it was very impactful, and I still think about it ocaasionally. Funny how some books just stick with you that way.

I also read A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle (review will be up in the next few days). This was another book from my Classics Club challenge, and it was a super quick read. I can’t say either of the two Sherlock stories I’ve read so far engrossed me, but I did like this one.

And finally Lincoln in the Bardo. This audiobook has something like 166 narrators. It’s nuts. I’ve never listened to an audiobook production with a full cast, and in the beginning it was very off-putting (it’s quite a cacophony of voices at times), but you adjust to it quickly enough. I especially loved that I could pick out voices of some of my favorite people; Nick Offerman, Rainn Wilson, David Sedaris, Megan Mullally, and many other names I know, but didn’t recognize while immersed in the story. I am still working out what I might say about this book in a blog post, so it may be awhile until you find it here on my blog, but I kind of loved it.

Right now I am listening to one of my favorite books of all time on audio: Jane Eyre (narrated by Josephine Bailey, my preferred version), and reading My Cousin Rachel in paperback. I’m hoping to finish another 5 books in July, wish me luck!!

Summer 2017 TBR – & the 10 Books of Summer Challenge

I was in the middle of drafting a summer 2017 TBR post when I came across the 20 Books of Summer challenge hosted by 746books.com. What a happy coincidence! So instead of the conservative 5 books I was planning to list, why not double it and see if I can finish them all? Here are the books I plan to read for this challenge (June 1st – September 3rd)::

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Some books have a seasonal aura about them, and for me The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy screams summertime. I first read it in the summer of maybe 2010 – 2011 era? I remember it being short, light, and absolutely hilarious. I’m really looking forward to a refresher.

A Study in Scarlett by Arthur Conan Doyle

So far, the only Sherlock Holmes I’ve read is The Hound of the Baskervilles, and to be honest, I wasn’t really impressed. Last week I was searching through Audible looking on something to spend my credits on and I saw the complete Sherlock Holmes collection read by Stephen Fry. It’s nearly 63 hours long! The first piece in the series is A Study in Scarlett, and I hope to have it completed by the end of the summer.

Finders Keepers & End of Watch by Stephen King

While on maternity leave earlier this year, I read Mr. Mercedes, the first in a trilogy of psychological/crime thrillers by Stephen King. While I wouldn’t necessarily say I LOVED Mr. Mercedes – because seriously, Brady Heartfield is messed up – but it sure was a page turner, and I’ve borrowed the next two books in the series from a friend at work, so I want to make sure I get them read and returned. Besides, I love Stephen King and would love to make a bigger dent in his body of work.

 

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

This is the book I am currently reading as an audiobook. It is a non-fiction collection of Neil Gaiman’s speeches, essays, and articles. From what I’ve read so far, it’s superb. It is also narrated by the author, which makes it 100xs better.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I was not planning to start this novel anytime soon, but after posting my new Classics Club reading list I was convinced to start it immediately. This book is over 1,000 pages long, so it may throw a wrench into this challenge, but oh well. I’m only 10 pages in so far and I already feel like I’m going to love it!

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

This book has come highly recommended to me by a friend from work, so I added it to my audible list. I can usually crank out at least one audiobook a month at work so this one will probably be up next. By the synopsis I’m not fully entranced, but my friend sings nothing but praises, so we’ll see how it goes!

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

I’m shamed to admit I’ve never read this book. Lately I’ve been seeing it everywhere, and I think it’s about time to remedy that. It is also on my Classics Club Challenge list, and it’d be nice to knock out a few early to give myself a great start!

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

I’ve been meaning to read this forever, and I have a feeling it’d be a great book to read in the summer (it’s about a road trip after all)…but I kind of want to leave this spot in the list open for any Steinbeck. I have a bindup copy of his seven short novels that I want to get through as well, so I’d be happy to read one of those instead. We’ll see what mood I’m in when we get to it :-)

The Fireman by Joe Hill

I originally read the first quarter of this book just after it was released, but for some reason I put it down and never picked it back up. I really want to finish it up! I read Horns a few years back and really enjoyed it, so I have high hopes for this one.