Sunday, May 31, 2009

30 Books in 30 Days Summer Reading Blitz

30 Books in 30 Days Summer Reading Blitz
As I mentioned in a previous post, Shauna of Reading and Ruminations is kicking off a reading challenge for the month of June, the 30 Books in 30 Days Summer Reading Blitz. Initially this was just going to be a personal challenge for Shauna, but several other bloggers have decided to participate as well. I'm hoping to put a big dent in my unread books over the summer, so this sounds like a wonderful way to accomplish that.

I'm going to stick with mostly mysteries, young adult and middle grade fiction. So far I have a very tentative list of 30 books that I'd like to read in June. I may substitute some books here and there but the list probably won't change too much.

  1. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer
  2. The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (review pending)
  3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  5. The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett (review pending)
  6. Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
  7. The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer
  8. The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
  9. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
  10. The Darksmith Legacy #3 - The Colour of Darkness by Richard Dungworth
  11. The Darksmith Legacy #4 - The Depths of Despair by Justin Richards
  12. Doctor Who: Sick Building by Paul Magrs
  13. Doctor Who: Wishing Well by Trevor Baxendale
  14. Doctor Who: The Pirate Loop by Simon Guerrier
  15. Doctor Who: Peacemaker by James Swallow
  16. Doctor Who: Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell
  17. The King's Rose by Alisa Libby
  18. They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
  19. A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
  20. The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins
  21. The House of Ghosts by Larry Kaplan
  22. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  23. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
  24. Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard (review pending)
  25. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (review pending)
  26. The Torchwood Archives by Gary Russell
  27. Torchwood: The Twilight Streets by Gary Russell
  28. Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
  29. The Lady Grace Mysteries: Assassin by Patricia Finney
  30. Paper Towns by John Green

TSS: May Reading Wrap-Up

The Sunday Salon.com

I didn't have a great reading month in May; my schedule was too hectic to get a lot of reading done. I mentioned on Twitter earlier this month that I would be lucky to get 8 books read. I must have been extra lucky as I ended up with 9. I've now read 61 books in 2009, and I'm very happy with my progress.

May Reads:
The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes by Bruce Wexler
The Science of Sherlock Holmes by E. J. Wagner
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Chris Sasaki
The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
Jillian Dare by Melanie M. Jeschke
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
I enjoyed all of these books, but The Language of Bees was definitely my favorite. Laurie R. King's writing never ceases to amaze me; the characters always feel like old friends and the Mary Russell series seems to get even better with each installment. I absolutely can't wait for the tenth book, The Green Man, to be released next year. Especially given the ending of The Language of Bees...


Full reviews of the books listed above (including The Language of Bees) to come soon. I'll be able to blog much more regularly now as this week I finally purchased a laptop. I bought a Sony Vaio and I'm in love. I'll probably post a review of the computer, too, once I've had a chance to use it more. (I can't wait to try out the Blu-Ray DVD drive!)

Kindle 2
In addition to the laptop, I was the lucky winner of a Kindle 2 from in a Twitter contest from the folks behind Glue, a social-networking tool launched by Adaptive Blue. I think I'm still in shock that I actually won. I've read four books on my Kindle so far and have taken it along on several overnight trips. It's so convenient to be able to take multiple books with me without taking up a lot of space in my bag. The digital ink technology is amazing; you don't feel like you're looking at a screen at all. I'm very happy with my Kindle and would definitely recommend it to other readers who are thinking about investing in an e-Reader.

Giveaways ending soon:
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories
Books 1-3 from the Enola Holmes Series by Nancy Springer

Weekly Geeks 2009-19: Summer Reading Plans

I'm a bit late with this edition of Weekly Geeks, but we had so much rainy/dreary weather last week that summer reading was far from my mind. Now that we've had a few warmer, sunny days, I honestly can't believe that June is almost upon us. It seems like 2009 is absolutely flying by. June always brings to mind warm weather, cooking on the grill, swimming, and of course, lots of summer reading.

This year I'd like to use the summer months to make a substantial dent in my growing list of books to read. I have over 200 books that I own but haven't read, so I'm going to use this summer as an opportunity to read more of my own books. I should have plenty of opportunities for quality reading time, especially in June. I'll be house and dog-sitting for a week while my cousin Scott and his wife Rebecca fly out West to compete in Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I took care of their beagles over the Easter weekend earlier this year and it was like a mini-vacation for me.

I'm going to start with a conservative goal of 30 books over the next three months. Ten books per month seems to be a manageable number, and one that I can easily exceed if past months are any indication. So far, April is the only month I haven't read 10 or more books. (I read only 8 books in April, but my page total for that month is the higher than any other month.)

Shauna at Reading and Ruminations is holding a 30 Books in 30 Days Reading Blitz in June. I might participate in this, I'm leaning very heavily towards it but I haven't decided for sure yet. It's definitely doable for me, especially if I concentrate on the Young Adult and Mystery genres. This would also have the added benefit of helping me smash my goal of 30 books over the entire summer and make significant progress with my To-Be-Read list.

I've noticed over the years that I read longer, heavier books in the winter and shorter, lighter books during the summer. I think that with all the other summer activities, it's easier to incorporate a lot of reading if I focus on shorter, fast-moving books.

What are your summer reading plans? Do you your reading habits change during the summer?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Book Review of Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Chris Sasaki

Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Chris Sasaki
Publisher: Sterling (2005)
Hardcover, 160 pages, $5.95
ISBN-10: 1402712170
ISBN-13: 9781402712173


Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes features abridged versions of six short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The language is simplified for younger readers, but the essence of the original stories is not compromised. The book includes "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Red-Headed League", "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", "The Greek Interpreter" and "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".

There are several nice black and white illustrations to complement each story. My only criticism of the illustrations is that Watson seems too old. Dr. Watson was only a few years Sherlock Holmes' senior, but is depicted as much older in several screen adaptations. The illustrations in this book seem to be based more on the screen versions of the characters than the original Sidney Padget drawings. Padget's illustrations show the two men to be much closer in age. However, this is a very minor quibble on my part. The age difference will likely help young children differentiate between Holmes and Watson.

The modern, easy-to-read language and abridged format in this book make these classic stories accessible to younger readers who may find the complex vocabulary or length of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original work too challenging. This would be a great choice for a 7-10 year old who enjoys mysteries but might not be ready to tackle the Sherlock Holmes books on their own just yet. Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes also includes discussion questions to help broaden the reader's understanding of the stories.

Rating: 8/10.

Buy Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Update - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration
I haven't had many opportunities for blogging over the past two weeks, so I'm running a bit behind with features for my Doyle celebration. Since my one year blogoversy is coming up so soon (Bookish Ruth will be a year old on June 14), I've decided to extend the Doyle celebration through the month of June.

There's still time to enter both the giveaway for The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories and the first three books in the Enola Holmes Series by Nancy Springer. There will be more Sherlock Holmes-related giveaways in the next few weeks.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quotable - "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

For the month of May, I'll be featuring quotations by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as part of my month-long Doyle tribute. Today I'm highlighting a passage from "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". Here we have Watson speaking about Holmes' typical (or atypical, if you prefer) choice of cases:

"On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic."

-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"

"The Adventure of the Speckled Band" is among my favorite Sherlock Holmes short stories. The resolution of the mystery creeps me out every single time -- in a good way. Mostly.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CFBA: Jillian Dare by Melanie M. Jeschke


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Jillian Dare: A Novel

Revell (May 1, 2009)

by

Melanie M. Jeschke



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

I'm reading this now and am enjoying it. Look for a review soon! -- Ruth

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Enola Holmes Mysteries 1-3 by Nancy Springer

To celebrate this past Tuesday's release of The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, the fifth book in Nancy Springer's excellent Enola Holmes series, I'm giving away brand new paperback copies of the first three books in the series:

The Case of the Missing Marquess
Publisher's Description: When Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared—on her 14th birthday nonetheless—she knows she alone can find her. Disguising herself as a grieving widow, Enola sets out to the heart of London to uncover her mother’s whereabouts—but not even the last name Holmes can prepare her for what awaits. Suddenly involved in the kidnapping of the young Marquess of Basilwether, Enola must escape murderous villains, free the spoiled Marquess, and perhaps hardest of all, elude her shrewd older brother—all while collecting clues to her mother’s disappearance!


The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
Publisher's Description: Enola Holmes is being hunted by the world’s most famous detective—her own brother, Sherlock Holmes. But while she is on the run in the world’s biggest, darkest, dirtiest city, she discovers a hidden cache of charcoal drawings and feels as if she is a soul mate to the girl who drew them. But that girl, Lady Cecily, has disappeared without a trace. Braving the midnight streets, Enola must unravel the clues to find this left-handed lady, but in order to save her, Enola risks revealing more than she should. Will she be able to keep her identity a secret and find Lady Cecily, or will the one thing she is trying to save—her freedom—be lost forever?

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
Publisher's Description: Everyone knows Dr. Watson is Sherlock Holmes’ right-hand man—so when he goes missing, it’s a shock. Even Sherlock hasn’t, well, the slightest clue as to where he could be. Enola is intrigued, but wary; she’s still hiding from her older brothers—and getting involved could be disastrous.

But when a bizarre bouquet shows up at the Watson residence, full of convolvulus, hawthorn, and white poppies, Enola must act. She dons her most discerning disguise yet to find the sender—and quickly, for Enola knows the blossoms symbolize death!



The Rules:

This contest is open worldwide. The deadline for entries is Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 11:59 EST. I'll announce the winner the following day (Wednesday, June 3, 2009).

Leave a comment on this post for one entry. Please make sure that you include a valid e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!

For Multiple Entries:
  • Enola frequently uses the language of flowers in her cases. Tell me the name of your favorite flower for one additional entry.
  • Post about this giveaway on your own blog with a link back to this post for three additional entries.
  • If you're on Twitter, post a tweet with a link back to this post for one additional entry.
  • Subscribe to Bookish Ruth via e-mail or RSS reader for two additional entries. If you're already a subscriber, let me know, as that counts for three additional entries.
Good luck!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-17: Mark It Down

Weekly GeeksFor this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, I'd like to focus on one of the most useful tools for a bibliophile: Bookmarks.

Do you use bookmarks or just grab whatever is handy to mark your page? Do you collect lots of different bookmarks or do you have a favorite one that you use exclusively? If you're not someone who uses bookmarks on a regular basis, have you ever used anything odd to mark your place?


In the past, I've mentioned that I collect bookmarks so when I was trying to come up for a topic for this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, this was a natural choice. I have a large bookmark collection (over 120 at last count).

I use bookmarks most of the time, however, I will grab whatever is close at hand if I'm in a hurry. Long time readers of this blog may remember that I mentioned losing my debit card last summer. In December, I discovered that I had used it as an impromptu bookmark.

Here are a few pictures of my bookmark collection:


These are a few of the promotional bookmarks I've picked up at local bookstores or have had sent to me with review copies.

I'm a Star Wars geek, and my bookmark collection reflects that pretty clearly...


I also have a lot of Harry Potter bookmarks. My favorite is not pictured (a Gryffindor house bookmark like the Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff ones at the bottom of this photo) since it's currently in use.

Some miscellaneous bookmarks. I love the quote on the pink one; it features a Chinese proverb that says, "A book is like a garden carried in the pocket."


I like to try to coordinate bookmarks with the books that I'm reading. My Nefertiti bookmark gets a lot of use whenever I read books about Egypt (and looks very much at home with my copy of Nefertiti by Michelle Moran).

Do you collect bookmarks? Use whatever is handy to mark your place? Or, (gasp!) dog-ear pages?

Quotable - The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

For the month of May, I'll be featuring quotations by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as part of my month-long Doyle tribute. Today I'm highlighting a favorite from The Valley of Fear:

"I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson, but my experience of life has taught me that there are few wives, having any regard for their husbands, who would let any man's spoken word stand between them and that husband's dead body. Should I ever marry, Watson, I should hope to inspire my wife with some feeling which would prevent her from being walked off by a housekeeper when my corpse was lying within a few yards of her."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review: The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes by Bruce Wexler

The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes
The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Bruce Wexler
Publisher: Running Press (2008)
Hardcover, 192 pages, $14.95
ISBN-10: 0762432527
ISBN-13: 978-0762432523


Lavishly illustrated, The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes is a companion guide to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Great Detective.

The book includes a biography of Conan Doyle, a history of Sherlock Holmes in print as well as on stage and screen, and an examination of the Holmes phenomenon today. Wexler also briefly touches on Sherlock Holmes' role in the evolution of crime fiction, the class structure of Victorian society, Victorian medicine and Holmes' use of forensic investigative techniques.

Over 150 illustrations are beautifully presented throughout the book. Many of Sidney Padget's iconic images are reproduced as full or half-page illustrations. There are many photographs of Victorian London and weapons that were common to the era. The section picturing some of Holmes' key possessions (such as his deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, pipe, Persian slipper, and violin) was especially interesting to me. When I first read through the Sherlock Holmes stories as a teenager, I had no idea what a Persian slipper looked like. I would have had no such trouble envisioning Holmes' quirky method of tobacco storage if this book had been available then.

While the illustrations shine, some of the text -- unfortunately -- does not. I am by no means a Sherlock Holmes scholar, but I picked up on several factual and typographical errors throughout the book. Mary Morstan, a prominent character in The Sign of Four, is referred to as "Mary Morstam", several quotations from Doyle's work are incorrect, and more than once, the word "to" is used where "too" is actually the correct form. Better editing would have served this volume well. Wexler also asserts that Doyle's non-Holmes works have "withered away from disregard." While it is certainly true that the Sherlock Holmes stories are Doyle's most popular work and will likely remain so, I would not be so hasty to dismiss the rest of his body of work.

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book based on the quality and variety of the illustrations alone. If you can look past some rather unfortunate errors, there is a lot to enjoy here.

Rating: 7/10.

Buy The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quotable - The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

For the month of May, I'll be featuring quotations by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as part of my month-long Doyle tribute. Today I'm highlighting another favorite quote from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes is speaking to Watson just before a client arrives:

"Now is the dramatic moment of fate, when you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Monday, May 4, 2009

Book Giveaway - The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Short Stories

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes
This is the first of several giveaways that will be held here during the month of May, but I think this may be the one that I'm most excited about. I will be giving away a brand new copy of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Short Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Leslie S. Klinger.

I personally own all three volumes (the two volume short story edition featured here and single volume novel edition) and, honestly, no Sherlock Holmes fan should be without them. They're beautifully illustrated and the annotations are detailed and insightful.

Here's the publisher's description:

This monumental edition promises to be the most important new contribution to Sherlock Holmes literature since William Baring-Gould's 1967 classic work. In this boxed set, Leslie Klinger, a leading world authority, reassembles Arthur Conan Doyle's 56 classic short stories in the order in which they appeared in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century book editions. Inside, readers will find a cornucopia of insights: beginners will benefit from Klinger's insightful biographies of Holmes, Watson, and Conan Doyle; history lovers will revel in the wealth of Victorian literary and cultural details; Sherlockian fanatics will puzzle over tantalizing new theories; art lovers will thrill to the 700-plus illustrations, which make this the most lavishly illustrated edition of the Holmes tales ever produced. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes illuminates the timeless genius of Arthur Conan Doyle for an entirely new generation of readers. 700+ illustrations.

The Rules:
This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. The deadline for entries is Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:59 EST. I'll announce the winner the following day (Monday, June 1, 2009).

Leave a comment on this post for one entry. Please make sure that you include a valid e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!

For Multiple Entries:
  • If you've read Sherlock Holmes before, tell me the title of your favorite story for one additional entry. If you're new to the Holmes stories, tell me the title of the one you're most eager to read.
  • Post about this giveaway on your own blog with a link back to this post for three additional entries.
  • If you're on Twitter, post a tweet with a link back to this post for one additional entry.
  • Subscribe to Bookish Ruth via e-mail or RSS reader for two additional entries. If you're already a subscriber, let me know, as that counts for three additional entries.
Good luck!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Guest Blogger Review: A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration
It's my pleasure to welcome Nathan of Inkweaver Review as a guest blogger. He recently reviewed A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes adventure, and has kindly allowed me to reprint part of his review here. Please give him a warm welcome and don't forget to pay him a visit at Inkweaver Review.
-- Ruth

“A Study in Scarlet,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a fascinating detective mystery story that introduces Sherlock Holmes to the world.

The story starts by introducing John H. Watson, an army doctor recently returned to London after a disastrous tour in India. Watson is happy to be in London again, but he soon finds that he needs better quarters. Unfortunately, his income is so low that he can not afford anything decent.

Through a friend Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes, who has found a comfortable apartment but needs someone to share the rent with. At first Watson is a little bit skeptical about Holmes, who seems to be a very eccentric individual indeed, but when Watson visits the apartment that Holmes wants to rent, he decides that he might as well try it out... Click here to read the rest of Nathan's review.

TSS: April Reading Wrap-Up

The Sunday Salon.com

April was a very busy month for me, but I still managed to read 8 books and set a new page total record for a month. My previous high was 2,442 pages in January. In April, I read 2,880 pages.

1. O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King
2. Justice Hall by Laurie R. King
3. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
4. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquet by Nancy Springer
5. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan by Nancy Springer
6. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
7. The Game by Laurie R. King
8. Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration
You may have noticed a theme with the books listed above -- all but two of them are Sherlock Holmes-related. I have these reviews scheduled to go live this month as part of my Sir Arthur Conan Doyle event. Join me the entire month of May for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration. May 22 will be the 150th anniversary of Doyle's birth, and I can't think of a better time to honor one of my favorite authors.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Study In Sherlock

In 1887, Beaton's Christmas Annual featured a story called A Study in Scarlet by a then-unknown doctor turned author named Arthur Conan Doyle. The story would introduce what would become one of the most beloved and iconic characters in history: one Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle would go on to write a total of sixty Sherlock Holmes stories; four novels and fifty-six short stories. Most of these stories were published in The Strand magazine and, at the time of their publication, enjoyed great success in both England and the United States.

When Conan Doyle attempted to kill off the Great Detective in 1893's "The Adventure of the Final Problem", many citizens of London were so grieved by the loss that they wore black armbands of mourning. After years of public pressure, Doyle resurrected Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which is widely regarded as one of the best mystery novels of all-time.

My first experience with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work came in the autumn of 1995, when I was thirteen years old. I was at an awkward place in my reading life; I'd moved on from books like Nancy Drew and the Baby-Sitters Club, but wasn't quite sure what direction I wanted my reading to take. I hoped that my World Literature class would provide some guidance.

After what was a mind-numbing section on poetry (Whitman, Longfellow, and Tennyson were, eventually, acquired tastes), the class moved on to short stories. One of the first assignments was to read a story entitled "The Red-Headed League". I read it one sitting, despite the fact that it was a multi-day assignment, and immediately sought out more Doyle stories. I read anything I could get my hands on, and by the end of 1996 I'd read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon and several of Doyle's non-Holmes short story collections. In short, I was in love.

The Holmes stories opened a brand new world to me. I devoured mystery novels, especially those set in Victorian London. I was delighted to discover the rich world of Holmes pastiches (Sherlock Holmes stories written by authors other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) which continues to introduce me to extraordinary writers.

Fourteen years later, my love for Doyle's work is as strong as ever. I've read the Sherlock Holmes stories countless times over the years, and I still find them as interesting and entertaining as I did when I experienced them for the very first time.

If you're a longtime reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or if you've yet to discover his work for yourself, I sincerely hope that you'll enjoy the events this month as I honor one of my favorite authors and his legacy.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1: International Buy Indie Day

indiebound

Today is International Buy Indie Day. Book lovers around the world are encouraged to stop by their nearest independent bookstore and support their local economy by making a purchase. Can't make it to an indie near you? You can easily make your purchase online from an independent book store anywhere in the country. Check out Indiebound for stores that offer online ordering.

I had planned a trip to my local independent, Trappe Book Center, today but unfortunately found myself a bit under the weather. I'll be making that trip either over the weekend or early next week. Trappe Book Center opened as Little Professor Books when I was seven years old, and it has been my favorite book store ever since. Not only do they have a great store, they have a friendly and knowledgeable staff who are always ready to help with whatever you need.

In December, I had the pleasure of highlighting Aaron's Books in Lititz, PA for the Buy Books for the Holidays campaign. I've been to Aaron's several times on trips through Lancaster. To celebrate Buy Indie Day, I made two purchases from Aaron's Books:

Shop Indie Bookstores Shop Indie Bookstores

Did you participate in Buy Indie Day? If so, what store did you visit and what did you buy?

Quotable - "A Case of Identity" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

For the month of May, I'll be featuring quotations by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as part of my month-long Doyle tribute.

"Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, "A Case of Identity"