Don’t freak out, Book Babies! I know this is another two and a half to three inch book depending on the publication, but I chose this classic for a specific reason. The idea of reading Les Misérables by Victor Hugo freaked some of you out last Thursday, so I thought I’d offer a recommendation for those who still want to feel like they’re accomplishing something monumental without the stress that one continuous story puts on you. You see, The Complete Sherlock Holmes is a collection of four novels and 56 short stories all crammed into one convenient book! The four novels are not overbearing at all, and the short stories won’t mislead you.
While reading this collection, you can look at every short story or novel as a goal to accomplish! That’s how I beat this monster of a read! You can even put the book down to read something completely different before grabbing Sherlock again, and you won’t be lost or rattled! Every novel and story has its own mystery for Sherlock and Watson to solve. Yes, there is some crossover of characters and a few minor details, but Doyle is quick to catch you up if the information is from a novel or short story you skipped or haven’t read yet (if you chose to read them out of order). Of course I would recommend to read them all, but there’s nothing wrong with just choosing the ones that interest you. I know a couple of people who only read the ones that inspired the Robert Downey Jr. movies or BBC show with Benedict Cumberbatch. I can’t complain because at least they’re giving classics a chance!
I really enjoyed reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes because it was written like a true account by the character Watson. I think if it was written by Sherlock, the explanations and language would be to tiring and possibly give me a headache. I prefer to have Watson explain he workings of Sherlock’s mind because it comes across as humorous and sort of magical. That’s what always pulled me towards Sherlock’s mysteries; the fact that he can make pure science and deductive reasoning seem like magic.
Reading through all his cases is like trying to solve them yourself. I always tried to figure out the mystery before the end of the novel or short story; before Sherlock revealed his discoveries, made an arrest, found the lost article, or stumbled upon a body. Other than the few that I’d seen used countless of times in movies and on TV, I was never able to figure out he mystery! I think Doyle is the first author to keep me constantly guessing.
It was also fun to go back a reread some of the stories to see how Sherlock figured it out along the way. It’s like when you watch a movie again and see two characters fighting, knowing that this is what leads to the divorce at the end of the film. Or when you watch a horror movie again, knowing that the girl shouldn’t open the door because the murderer is behind it! Rereading Doyle’s stories gives you the chance to fully follow the character’s reasoning. Finding the clues for myself the second time around made me feel a bit better about missing it at first; some if them were so clever and subtle that it’s nearly impossible to catch it if you’re not as smart as Sherlock! And let’s face it, no one is.
The heroes, the villains, and every character in between is simply captivating. Even the people that only show up in one novel or story are interesting. Doyle does an excellent job at making each of his characters fully rounded and detailed, but not so much that it becomes three pages worth of mere description. He uses the same care while painting us a beautiful picture of London and all it has to offer.
So whether you read one, ten, thirty-six, or all four novels and 56 short stories, I guarantee that you’ll enjoy solving the mysteries that made Sherlock Holmes a legend! Enjoy the ride, Book Babies!