Take a Chance on a Classic: Sherlock Holmes

Posted May 3, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 10 Comments

Back in March, I started a feature on the blog called “A Letter To”. During the month I wrote letters to various characters. March’s letters were dedicated to some of my favorite female characters as part of Women’s History Month. I was going to bring the feature back as a Friday feature in May, and while I do plan on resuming the feature at some point, I had a different idea for a weekly feature: Take a Chance on Classics. I know there’s a few people participating in a classics challenge & I’ve seen blog posts by bloggers who WANT to start reading classics but keep getting intimidated each time. So throughout the month, on Fridays I’ll be making the case for a few well-known classic books I think might be accessible to people who want to read “classics” but feel overwhelm. The first book? Sherlock Holmes. 


Making the Case for Sherlock Holmes

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

There’s a couple of reasons I think Sherlock Holmes is a great read for people who are interested in reading classics. First, even though you’ll find Sherlock Holmes on almost every classics shelf in bookstores, it has a lot in common with commercial fiction. Besides the fact that there tend to be quite a few words in a sentence, I think Sherlock Holmes is probably one of the least removed classics from modern literature. Sherlock Holmes is so iconic that the legacy Arthur Canon Doyle created can still be seen quite often throughout the detective genre, and there are so many references to Sherlock Holmes in pop culture.

Also, the reason Sherlock Holmes makes a great read is because most of his adventures are told in short stories. There are a few novellas, such as A Study in Scarlet and Hound of the Baskervilles, but the majority of Sherlock’s exploits are told in short stories. It can be a lot easier to read a short story than read, for example, War and Peace. It can be pretty easy to intergrate reading a short story into your daily reading routine.

Sometimes the set-up for the stories is slow(I’m currently listening to the audio book for A Study in Scarlet on my walks, and I have yet to hear anything more than conversations between Holmes and Watson), but once the action gets started, it barely ever stops. I tend to like the short stories over the novellas(the reason I’m listening to A Study in Scarlet is because I never actually got through it the first time I tried to read it)

Plus, once you’re done reading Sherlock Holmes you can go and watch the BBC’s Sherlock miniseries, aka their modern adaption of Sherlock Holmes. It’s awesome and you can watch it without reading the books, but there’s so much more meaning in it if you’re read them. There are so many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, I feel like most people are bound to find one they’ll like!

I’ll Recommend This For:

Not every book will be for everyone, and a classic book is no different! However, these are the people I would really recommend at least try reading Sherlock Holmes.

If you like the following TV shows:

BBC Sherlock(kind of a given)


CSI/Criminal Intent/etc.(Most crime shows)

If you like the following books:

A Series of Unfortunate Events

There’s a lot of mysteries in this series, a lot of smart people, and a lot of strange things. Surprisingly, this transfers over remarkably well to reading Sherlock Holmes.

The Maze Runner trilogy

This might be a totally different genre, but I think the tone and air of excitement in The Maze Runner would help fans of it transition to Sherlock Holmes.

In The End:

Sherlock Holmes is one of the world’s most famous literary characters for a reason, so I think there’s a good chance most people would enjoy the stories. Dr. Watson meets Holmes first in A Study in Scarlet, but I would actually recommend not starting there. Then again, I might be biased because it’s not one of my favorite stories in the Sherlock Holmes cannon. I would start with Hound of the Baskervilles or one of these short stories(just the ones I remember being my favorites when I read the stories first in 7th grade):

  • The Five Orange Pips
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • The Adventure of the Naval Treaty
  • The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter

That’s my take a chance on a classic pick this week! Next week I’ll spotlight another classic piece of fiction and discuss that, but for now, let me know your thoughts on Sherlock Holmes–adaptations, the originals, and if you’re a fan or not(or will maybe give it a chance).



10 responses to “Take a Chance on a Classic: Sherlock Holmes

  1. Great feature Stormy, looking forward to seeing what other classics you recommend taking a chance with. I enjoyed Sherlock but still haven’t decided which classic to read next for my challenge. Totally agree with the points you made above, Sherlock feels a lot less intimating then other classics because it’s so familiar. And I love the BBC series wish they would hurry up with the third series, it’s taking far too long 🙂

  2. Jade

    As always, another great feature created by you (how do you do it? :-P).
    I’m glad you started with Sherlock Holmes, I think these are probably some of the best books for a hesitant classic reader to delve in to. They are easy reads as well as being quite modern. I’m in the process of collecting my own collection of the series, I first read them as borrows from the library.
    I have to admit, I haven’t watched the BBC series because the adaptation seems to modern for me. I much prefer the recent films when it comes to Holmes and Watson.

    My Book Bubble

  3. I love Sherlock Holmes! 😀 I started with The Hound of the Baskervilles too so it’s one of my favourites. I have a big book of short stories featuring Watson and Holmes so I’m really happy to see you post about Sherlock Holmes! 🙂

  4. Other fun mystery books are Georgette Heyer’s Why Shoot a Butler and some of her other 1930’s mysteries. She’s best known for her Regencies but the mystery books are fun too.

  5. Asti (A Bookish Heart)

    Oh, I’m one of those hesitant classic readers, so I like this idea! I don’t think I ever realized that Sherlock Holmes had short stories! That is much more motivating for me to pick one up. Plus, like you said, Sherlock Holmes is EVERYWHERE so I feel so out of the loop since I haven’t read one. Thanks for the recommendations. I think a Sherlock Holmes short story wouldn’t hurt at all.

  6. Mabel

    Great idea for a series! There’s actually a readalong of The Hound of the Baskervilles over at Unputdownables right now. Lasts through May, I think.

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