Saturday, August 22, 2015

September Selection

So for September, I'm suggesting "The Sherlockian" by Graham Moore as our book of the month.  And since no one else offered a suggestion, I guess you're stuck.

I read this book a couple of years ago, and have recently been re-reading the Sherlock Holmes canon.  I'm trying to go in chronological order of the stories as they were written by the author, NOT the dates they were published. 

This fictional story is based on several true facts and events that we know about the life of Arthur Conan Doyle.  It centers around a missing diary kept by Conan Doyle, but never found among his papers or other journals after his death.  What makes it so compelling is the fact that the missing diary is from the period exactly when Conan Doyle would have been working on the first Sherlock Holmes story in nearly a decade.

Everyone knows that in 1893 Doyle killed Holmes in a fall off the Reichenbach Falls (a story which, the author dated as taking place in 1891.)  Doyle never offered an explanation for why he killed the beloved detective and just as mysteriously in 1901 he released "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" (which takes place only two years later in 1893 and which some scholars argue is the greatest of all the Sherlock Holmes stories.) True to form Doyle never offered any explanation of why he suddenly decided to resurrect Holmes, thus the missing diary is thought to include his thoughts and reasons for returning to Holmes and the entire mystery genre.

When a modern day Conan Doyle scholar is found murdered at an annual Holmes convention after having claimed to find the missing diary, every Sherlock Holmes expert in the world suddenly finds himself trying to be Holmes and solve an unsolvable mystery.  The story jumps back and forth between the modern day account of one Harold White, a Sherlock Holmes fanatic whose knowledge and obsession of the detective draw him into the murder investigation, and a story of Arthur Conan Doyle in that pivotal year of 1900 when he would have been contemplating writing again about his long dead detective.

It's a quick, easy and entertaining read and actually motivated me to go back and start re-reading the Sherlock Holmes canon from the beginning.  I'd only ever read two of the novels and a handful of the short stories, so going back and reading the original stories has been very interesting.  (Especially when I watch "Sherlock" and Benedict Cumberbatch for fun on the side.) Anyway, I'm excited to hear your thoughts.  Enjoy.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Good Read

Hello my dear family and friends. I think it is time for a new read. Let's start the new book on September 1. Any suggestions?  Please type your suggestions into the comments. 

Until then, see if you can answer these trivia questions: 

1. When and where was the first public library established on the North American Continent?

2. As of the year 2000, what was considered the most valuable (monitarily) book in the world?

3. Before settling on the moniker "Tiny Tim", what other names did Charles Dickens consider for his sickly character in "A Christmas Carol"?

4. What was "Dr. Suess" full name? Do you know what year he wrote his first book?

5. A.A. Milne's son was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin of the Winnie the Pooh books. What was his name and how did his parents decide on it?

6. Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world's first Novel. In what year was it written?

7. Harriet Wilson was the first African American to have a novel published in the United States. She wrote it in 1859. What was the title? (I might get in trouble if I publish it here. ;-)

8. German Johann Gutenberg invented the moveable type in 1440 and printed his first book, the Latin Bible, in what year?

9. The first book printed in English was in the year ______ ?

10. What is the historical significance of the books Freeman's Oath and An Almanack, published in Cambridge, Massachusetts?

Find the answers here. ANSWERS and more.