Sunday, February 17, 2019

We Must Cast Round for Another Scent (HOUN)

I wonder if Watson ever had writer's block?

He had such a wealth of material to choose from, did the choices ever seem too much for him?  All of that great content just waiting to be shared with your readers!  Imagine if you're Sherlock Holmes' biographer, and the public is waiting for your next story.  It had better be a good one!  Show the people how smart or brave the great detective is, Watson!

No pressure.

On a MUCH smaller scale, I found myself facing the same dilemma this week.  I've agreed to write a short story for an upcoming Sherlock Holmes book for kids being published by Belanger Books.  I also have a student who is contributing a story.  I've been focusing all of my time helping her polish her work and haven't started mine at all.

Procrastinate much?

So yesterday, I sat down to start.  Now, this story has to be engaging and suitable for elementary school children, so there are some parameters to work with right away.  I had originally thought to do something with animals.  But not a "little girl lost her puppy and Sherlock Holmes helps her find it" type of story.  Those have been done plenty.  I was going to do something with Charles Jamrach’s Exotic Menagerie, a real life museum that existed in Victorian London.  I had a faint outline in my head, but once I started reading up on the place, I quickly realized that there are a lot more possibilities there than for just a kids book.  Plus, I didn't want to get too technical, and that would've taken a lot of exposition up front.  A good way to lose your young audience.

For whatever reason, I wanted to build my story around a true event.  So after a quick perusal of events that happened in London in the 1890's, I'd come up with a few ideas:

The first international hockey match
Baseball being introduced to London (It is spring training time after all...)
The beginning of the Proms concerts
The Oxford and Cambridge boat race

I ended up settling on another topic completely and I feel like my story is off to a good start after one day.  (Except I haven't come up with an ending yet.  I probably should've done that first...)

But then my lack of a solid topic carried over into today's blog post.  Should I talk about my planned book purchases, new podcasts I'm enjoying, excitement about a trip to The Mysterious Bookshop, thoughts on diversity in Sherlockiana, hopes for the next Holmes in the Heartland weekend?  I flirted with all of these topics and may return to one or two of them in due time, but didn't feel up to it today.  So here I am, blogging about not having a topic.

And that brings me back to Watson.

I picture him in one of two ways, mostly: action sidekick to the great detective or prodigious writer scratching away at his desk.  There are plenty of other versions of Watson out there: ladies man, billiards player, Chinese pottery expert.  But tonight, I'm going to emulate another Watson: laconic reader.  I'm off to dip into my current read and know that even the best writers had to have their off days, so some schlub rambling on the internet is allowed to as well.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Interesting Interview: Leslie Klinger

Leslie Klinger is the type of Sherlockian who is always working on some kind of project.  He has released SEVEN books in the past two years alone.  And these aren't flimsy volumes, either.  I got his "Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920's" as a Christmas present, and I nearly gave myself a hernia picking it up! 

His writing and research has covered everything from Dracula and Frankenstein to wrongfully accused prisoners.  In the next two months, he has "In the Shadow of Agatha Christie: Classic Crime Fiction by Forgotten Female Writers: 1850-1917" and "Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense."

But this is a Sherlockian blog, so let's talk about why Leslie Klinger is one of the big names in Sherlockiana.

More than a decade ago, Klinger took up the mantle of Sherlockian Annotator and put out "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes," a three volume set that picked up where the seminal Baring-Gould anthology left off so many decades ago.  And if that weren't enough minutiae for us, he then turned around and produced The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library, which went into even more specific detail of the 60 stories and their apocrypha.  Klinger was also awarded the Morley-Montgomery Award at this year's BSI Dinner for his article "The Origins of Sherlock Holmes: Crime Fiction before Conan Doyle."

Needless to say, Leslie Klinger is a busy man.  So it's a huge pleasure for him to take time and answer questions for us this month.  Settle in for some thoughts on our hobby from one of the most prominent Sherlockians of the current age.

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?
There’s no litmus test for Sherlockians. If you say you’re one, you are! It’s an attitude, not a skill set.

How did you become a Sherlockian?
I was hooked by William Baring-Gould’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes—the footnotes revealed the 60+ years of scholarship and also made clear that there was a universe of amateur scholars out there. I immediately subscribed to the Baker Street Journal and later, when I moved to L.A., joined a local scion society.

What is your favorite canonical story?
The Blue Carbuncle, a perfect blend of sentiment, brilliant deductions, and the warm friendship of the Great Detective and the Good Doctor.

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?
Among living Sherlockians, certainly Peter Blau has more stories than anyone else. I’m also taken by fresh and interesting perspectives—let me recommend my young friend Lucy Kiefer! But I am blessed with so many long-time friends among the BSI that it’s hard to single out just one: Fromkin, Rice, Burke, Cameron, Rozan, Faye, Peck, Margolin, Hobbs, Dahlinger, Katz, Kean, Rothman, Fusco, Homer, Dirda, three Rosenblatts, and especially Neil Gaiman, Laurie King and Mike Whelan—all very dear to me. I shudder to think whom I’ve omitted!

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
The scholarship, obviously. So many fascinating topics left to explore!

What things do you like to research related to Sherlock Holmes?
I’m especially interested in textual variations and the perplexing question of who made what changes. I’ve been privileged to read and write about many of the manuscripts and hope to explore more.

Your latest project, "Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920's" is a treasure trove of the genre at it's beginnings. Did you find any trends in researching this that would interest Sherlockians in particular?
The annotations in that book are another demonstration, I hope, of the fruits of close reading. Quality books are mirrors of their times, and these 1920s classics are no exception. The treasures are in the details as well as the themes. Reading and re-reading the Canon always leads to fresh discoveries. Like “slow food,” slow reading is an entirely different experience than one’s first read of a story.

Another ongoing project you have is a series of books influenced by Sherlock Holmes Canon. The latest, "For the Sake of the Game," boasts a diverse list of authors. How do you recruit your writers for these books?
Lately, we’ve been turning away great writers who ask us if they can play in this particular sandbox! Recruiting has always been easy—Laurie and I ask our friends!

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?
You mean besides my own New Annotated Sherlock Holmes? I think the most overlooked book of scholarship is D. Martin Dakin’s A Sherlock Holmes Commentary. For more of my thoughts on this, see the pair of articles I did for the BSJ about the state of SH scholarship in 2002 and 2003. Another fine way to dive into the scholarship is the two-volume set that Laurie King and I co-edited for the BSI: The Grand Game: A Celebration of Sherlockian Scholarship.

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
I see no risk that the candle is dimming. The quantity and quality of SH scholarship continues unabated, and I’m thrilled to see a growth of interest among the younger generations of readers. Though we’re wrapping up a Golden Age (with the end of the Downey films and Sherlock and Elementary), I expect that many of those who joined the ranks of Sherlockians strictly because of the films or TV shows will stay and become the venerable senior Sherlockians leading future generations.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Singularly Adapted to Our Needs [MISS]

I spent a lot of time this week meandering through different topics for tonight's post.

After listening to this week's episode of Trifles about Germans and Sherlock Holmes, I thought about doing a post on how Hans Gruber could be tied to the Canon.

Then I saw Dan Andriacco's post about the lineup for Holmes, Doyle & Friends, and figured I could do a love-fest for the names on that list.

This weekend I read a crazy book: "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Retold by Sherlock Holmes."  That was high on my list to talk about.

But a tweet by Howard Ostrom popped up this morning, and I found myself debating the merit of younger versions of the Canon.

Sherlock Holmes + Kids Reading.  Yeah, I have some opinions on that.

Some folks thought that kids should read the original Canon as is and revising it is pandering to the lowest common denominator.  An argument was also made that by reading the stories in their original form, kids would learn new vocabulary terms.  (Another person said that they thought the Canon shouldn't be taught in school because it isn't literature.  We agreed to disagree on that point.)

This year, The Beacon Society undertook an initiative to list many appropriate texts that educators can use to introduce Sherlock Holmes to students at any age.  Now, I don't think the people that I was tweeting back and forth with all day today were saying that kindergartners should sit down with the Doubleday and a dictionary and fend for themselves.  But is it wrong to expose kids to Holmes and Watson with some very light versions of the Canon? 

The Canon is written at approximately a high school reading level.  As a fifth grade teacher, I want my kids to know about Holmes.  There's no way in hell I would expect them to wade through Victorian literature at their age.  Even my highest readers would get bogged down with some of the outdated terms.  Do they really need to know the difference between a hansom, growler, four-wheeler and a dog-cart?  Just call it a cab or a carriage and get on with the story.

An valid argument was made that these stories are full of great vocabulary for kids to learn.  I agree with that, but also don't want them to miss the forest for the trees.  If a kid is spending time looking up word after word, the genius of these stories is going to be lost on them; instead they're reading a choppy tale that is teaching them what "moor" means. 

So many people are quick to make decisions about how "kids these days" need to be taught without taking into account all of the micro-decisions that educators make when developing lessons.  (I can do a WHOLE LOT of expounding on the "kids these days" sentiment, but will spare you.)

A friend of mine that teaches in Missouri is also a fifth grade teacher and loves doing mysteries with his class.  When his students read Holmes, they use an adapted version to learn about the framework of the mystery genre.

Shannon Carlisle in Tennessee also uses younger versions of the Holmes stories in her fourth grade classroom.  But her focus is to teach deductive reasoning and decision making skills.

Both of these educators are using texts that are at their students' levels and their kids are getting a great education from it.  Nothing is being dumbed down for these kids.  The focus of these lessons isn't to expand students' vocabulary or teach them to decipher unfamiliar phrases, but to teach genre conventions or critical thinking. 

Would it be great if we could also teach kids to look up unfamiliar words along the way? Absolutely.  But you must prioritize what's important.  And quite frankly, teaching outdated words and phrases is nice sometimes, but it's never going to be high on my priority list.  My number one priority is getting kids to fall in love with books.

We Sherlockians are a literary bunch, and I'm going to assume that we are all pretty strong readers.  That statistically means that most of us were pretty strong readers as kids.  We are blessed.  Whether it was a teacher, family member, librarian, or other angel here on Earth, someone introduced us to The Great Detective.  We picked up our first story, and there was no looking back!  We are the chosen ones.

And not every person who reads a Sherlock Holmes story is going to become a Sherlockian.  But I hope that every person who reads a Sherlock Holmes story walks away with a pleasant memory of their time spent in the pages.  And if we need to adapt the original stories so that kids can enjoy them, then let's do it!

Because if a kid isn't enjoying what they're reading, how can we help them grow into adults that love to read?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Here He Is, Sending Out Messages (REDC)

I still remember the sound of that America Online modem screeching, followed by the "You've Got Mail!" announcement when I was 12.  The internet and email had come into my life. 

These were pretty formative years: discussion boards, websites, chat rooms.  But looking back, the biggest impact of that service was email.  I could communicate quickly with anyone.  No more waiting weeks for a pen pal to write back.  Yeah, this email thing would catch on, I was sure of it.

In the days before email, the predominant form of communication between Sherlockians (so I'm told) was letter writing.  In fact, one of my favorite Sherlockian books is "'Dear Starrett-' 'Dear Briggs-'" a collection of correspondence between two influential members of our hobby.  Reading that book is like getting to sit at a table and listen to two men who know their stuff and are curious about the other's opinion have a legendary conversation.  

Now, in no way do I consider myself to be anywhere near these men's caliber.  But last week, I found myself enjoying the modern day equivalent of the back and forth between those two men.  I got to enjoy the sheer pleasure of two different ongoing, rambling email conversations with some of my favorite Sherlockians, Brad Keefauver and Bill Mason.  

I would assume most of us have our Sherlockian emails that get fired back and forth, but the majority of them are specific to topics and once the topic is completed, the discussion ends.  Lord knows I have plenty of those in my inbox as well.  "Are you coming to the meeting?"  "What is the status of this project?"  "Do you know where I can find ___?"  Those are all well and good, but how often do we get to have conversations that meander from topic to topic?

Bill and I started out conversing about his weekend in New York, which led to travel plans, blog posts, politics, events in Nashville and St. Louis, and other things.  If you know Bill, you know what a gracious and friendly guy he is, and his emails are just as pleasant.  Plus, I hear his great southern accent whenever I read his stuff.  I'm really looking forward to reading his new book, "A Holmes by Any Other Name," and hearing his voice in my head.  (Oooh, what if he recorded it as an audio book?!?!?)

Keefauver was one of the first Sherlockian friends I made when I ventured outside of my bookshelf and started engaging with other people on the internet and at functions.  Although he and I only live two hours apart, we don't see each other as often as I'd like.  I assume that's because I'm taking my daughter to ballet class and he's watching Holmes and Watson.... again.  And again.  And again.  If you know either of us, we ramble, so I can't even begin to list the topics we went over.  

Now, would either of these interactions have happened without email?  I can't say because I wasn't doing too much letter writing in my pre-teen days and don't today.  I can tell you that even if they would had, they would've taken a different approach.  Firing off a one or two sentence email is nothing to us, but writing down so few lines, slipping it an envelope, and using postage for it?  Doubtful.

So, another goal I'm going to set for myself is to let my friendly email correspondence be more of a conversation instead of a Q&A session.  Although time and distance don't always allow us to converse as much with Sherlockians around the country and world that we would like to, we have the means right here at our fingertips.  Long rambling messages, short queries, whatever.  

Just as long as they don't look like this: 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Interesting Interview: Curtis Armstrong

If you only know Curtis Armstrong as the guy from Revenge of the Nerds or Moonlighting, you are missing out on so much more!  Curtis is an ardent Sherlockian from an early age and his devotion to this hobby of ours is still going strong decades later.  In 2017, his memoir "Revenge of the Nerd: Or... The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger" came out, and to many Sherlockians' delight contained all kinds of great tidbits about his interest in the Great Detective.  (Sure, there were stories about Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, and John Cusack, but the selling point is Sherlock Holmes, right?)  Invested into The Baker Street Irregulars in 2006 as "An Actor and a Rare One," Curtis' wears his love for Sherlock Holmes and other Sherlockians on his sleeve.  I think you are in for a real treat with this month's answers...

How did you become a Sherlockian?
In a manner of speaking, I became a Sherlockian the moment my father put his copy of the stories in my hands. That was 1964 or 1965. But my path to the "organized" Sherlockian world began a few years later. In 1969, my Civics teacher, Barry Lepler, commented on the fact that I was carrying a copy of the Sherlock Holmes stories with me every day in school. My obsession was obvious and he asked if I'd ever heard of William Baring Gould's Annotated Sherlock Holmes. He had gotten a copy for joining the Book of the Month Club a year before. Would I be interested?

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, but said yes. He then said the book could be mine for $5.00, which was what he paid for his subscription!  That seemed reasonable. I brought in my $5.00 and he handed me what was, in many ways, the key to my future.

It was through Baring Gould that I discovered the existence of The Baker Street Irregulars and The Baker Street Journal. I would never have dreamed that such things existed!  Obviously, my first move would be to join The Baker Street Irregulars.  But even a cursory reading of the history of the organization showed that was unlikely, even if the group still existed, and I wasn't sure it did.  The Baker Street Journal was another matter, though. I subscribed immediately, and it was in the first or second issue that I saw the announcement, in the Scion Society section, that a new Sherlock Holmes society had been founded specifically for young Sherlockians--and that it was based in Cranbrook Gardens, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which was about twenty minutes drive from my house.

The founder of this group was Susan Rice, now legendary in the Sherlockian world, but then a young teacher at the Kingsford School in Bloomfield Hills. The group was co-ed, unlike the Irregulars at that time, and consisted mainly of her students.  We would meet at her apartment: discuss the stories, attend plays, have dinners occasionally, including one at my home at which we were honored by the presence of  the Detroit Amateur Mendicant Society founder Bob Harris, who arrived with a Tantalus and Gasogene (which we were encouraged to sample) and who sat telling stories about the old days with famed Irregulars like "Kit."  Even Susan, far more educated in this lore than we, didn't realize at first he was talking about Christopher Morley.  Jupiter descended that night!

Though I dabbled in scion groups in the following decades (The Greek Interpreters of East Lansing and The Non-Canonical Calabashes of Los Angeles) my youthful fantasy of induction in The Baker Street Irregulars seemed as far away as ever.  Until I received an unexpected invitation to attend the weekend from Susan in 2002.  My induction a few years later was the most unexpected and thrilling moments of my life.

What is your favorite canonical story?
"Favorite Canonical story?"  Unanswerable.  This answer changes regularly.  I'll say "Silver Blaze".  No, wait. "Bruce Partington Plans." No, hang on....

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?
 If we are speaking of a Sherlockian not yet inducted, I would say Ashley Polasek. A scholar, writer, editor, teacher and Medieval swordswoman. She has a PhD in Sherlock Holmes adaptions and has spoken on Sherlockian subjects internationally. She was the editor of my second book, on P.G. Wodehouse, called "A Plum Assignment," co-written by Elliott Milstein. Also co-editor of the Los Angeles symposium book, Sherlock Holmes: Behind The Canoncial Screen. She's also funny and knows her single malts.  What more can you ask for?

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
I'm not that interested in films or plays, or cosplay. That feels too much like what I do for a living. I'm a hardcore bibliophile, so it used to be collecting. I have a large collection of Sherlockiana including first editions, Strand magazines, Doyle letters and an extensive collection of books, letters and inscribed copies of books by first generation Irregulars.  That hobby got a little rich for my blood, though. I still collect the new books by BSI Press and Wessex Press and independently published work, but the the earlier stuff has just gotten too expensive. I consider my collection basically frozen. Now I collect Washington Irving. I love him as much as Doyle and he's more reasonably priced! 

What things do you like to research related to Sherlock Holmes?
I don't really research anything!  I don't write that often on the subject.  I like to think of myself more as an enthusiast. I am lost in admiration for the people I know for whom research is an important part of their Sherlockian experience, but it's just not really in my wheel house. I've been invited to give talks on Holmes often but it is always related in some way to what I do:  Holmes and theatre, actors, film, that sort of thing.  Sometimes when I'm preparing a talk there is some research involved but it's really not what I enjoy. I just like to read the stories and talk about them, when I do, from my own perspective.  I wish I were a scholar, but I'm not.

Is there a Sherlockian role that you would really enjoy playing on stage or screen?
I've been asked this question a lot.  Honestly, no. I don't see myself in any Canonical character.  Maybe Nathan Garrideb. Years ago, the actor/director Heather MacDonald wrote a Sherlock Holmes play and arranged a backers reading of it in New York. She asked me to play Billy the page. I was 28. I played him like Terry Kilburn in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."  My one Sherlock Holmes credit.

Although not Sherlockian, last year, you released the book "A Plum Assignment: Discourses on P. G. Wodehouse and His World" with Elliot Milstein.  Why do you think there is such a crossover between fans of Wodehouse and fans of The Great Detective?
A good question.  I don't know.  I think it may be because Wodehouse was such a fan of Doyle's that he sort of bubbled over with enthusiasm for him and that sort of thing is infectious. It was there in everything, from throwaways like referring to three-pipe problems, or quoting lines from the stories that are recognizable.  Comparing aunts to Professor Moriarty, that sort of thing. Inside things that readers like.  The plot of "Indiscretions of Archie" borrows pretty substantially from "The Adventure of the Speckled Band."  Also, there is a cult quality to Wodehouse readers that is very similar to Doyle readers.

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?
I assume you mean a Sherlockian-related book.  I'd recommend something by Vincent Starrett or Chris Morley.  Not "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" or "Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson: A Textbook of Friendship", but one of their Sherlock-adjacent, less well-known books.  Starrett's "Penny Wise and Book Foolish" or Morley's "Powder of Sympathy." If you can find them.

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
Who could've predicted ten years ago where Sherlockiana is today?  Fortunately, Sherlockiana is no longer the domain of all-white-male bookishness.  I relish the changes and have been disappointed and kind of appalled at the reactions of some Sherlockians of my generation to what the Irregulars in particular has become.  Women, POC and the young are the future of societies like ours and we should embrace them.  They are no threat to us, they're like o-negative blood transfusions, universal and life-giving. If we've learned nothing else from Tom Stix's day, we've learned that Sherlockian whiskey-and-sodality has no gender. The future of Sherlockiana looks bright to me.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

With a Brisk Air of Resolution (CROO)

As we pause a moment to celebrate Sherlock Holmes' 165th birthday today, I find myself looking forward to 2019.  Last year, I created an extensive list of Sherlockian resolutions, which fell all over the map in if I had accomplished them or not.  This year, I still want to set some Sherlockian goals for myself, but think I'll be a little more pragmatic this time around.

1. Read 20 canonical stories
I am amazed by people who can read the whole Canon in a year.  I shot for 52 stories in 2018 (one per week) and it turned into a chore.  I never want my Sherlockian reading to feel like a chore, so 20 seems like an attainable number this year.

2. Submit an article to the Baker Street Journal
This is a repeat goal from last year.  When I recapped my progress on 2018 goals, I didn't think it was going to happen.  And then I got some guts and cranked out a piece of writing I'm pretty proud of.  I submitted to the BSJ and it was turned down, but the rejection wasn't as terrifying as I thought it would be.  I'll be back with at least one more submission this year I hope.

3. Finish my current Sherlockian book manuscript
I'm working on a kids book to make Sherlock Holmes more accessible to kids aged 9-12 years old.  I haven't been good about having a writing routine with this project as I was with The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street.  It's time for me to buckle down, complete a first draft, edit, and get a manuscript ready to shop around by the end of the year.

4. Encourage new leadership in The Parallel Case of St. Louis
For the past few years, I've been lucky enough to lead this great group of people and I don't plan on quitting any time soon.  But we have such a diverse and interesting group of Sherlockians that meet every other month, it shouldn't be just me calling the shots.  What does that mean?  I don't know.  But I'm excited to see who wants to take on a larger role and what they come up with.

5. Encourage St. Louis Sherlockian social interactions
I also really love the few purely social Sherlockian events we've had in St. Louis here and there.  I'd like to see my scion make a conscious effort to get together and just enjoy each other's company.

6. Holmes in the Heartland 2020
Speaking of The Parallel Case of St. Louis, we are laying the groundwork for our next Holmes in the Heartland conference, tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2020.  By the end of 2019, I would like most of plans to be in place so we can go above and beyond what we accomplished in 2018.

7.Add to the St. Louis Sherlockian Research Collection
A few of us in St. Louis are overseeing the acquisition of new materials for this research collection, and I'm hoping things will be in place for us to start wheeling and dealing in the next month or two to add to this great resource.

8. Get visitors to the collection
I don't want this to be just a bunch of books that sit and collect dust.  How we go about this, I don't know just yet.  But if we have everything planned out ahead of time, life would be boring.

9. Use the collection for my own research
Maybe for my planned BSJ submission....?

10. Keep blogging!
This blog was originally started as a way to promote The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street over a year ago.  Since then, it's become an outlet for my Sherlockian musings which I enjoy doing overall.  But let's be honest, some weeks I just don't want to write.  Or come up with a topic.  Once I get myself up off of the couch and behind the keyboard, it's worth it.  I don't want lethargy to overtake me with this.  I have hopes for 12 top notch Interesting Interviews throughout the year, and think maybe writing more about the actual canonical stories this year would be a good focus for my time.

Well, my list is actually longer than last year, but I think everything is attainable.  Here's to another year of Sherlockiana!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles Pt. 3

Here we are, at the end of the year.  And here I am at the end of my reading list for the year.  Part 1 and Part 2 can be found in the attached links.  Let's finish this year up with some books!

The Enola Holmes Series: The Case of the Missing Marquess, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline & The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye – Nancy Springer
Wow, I didn't realize that I'd read this entire series this year.  These are such fun books that I find myself recommending them to anyone who will listen!  Plenty of my fifth graders have fallen in love with this series as well this year.  And I'm hoping that the upcoming film is true to the books.

I am not overly interested in Arthur Conan Doyle's life, but this year I made it a point to read a little bit more about the man who made Sherlockiana possible. 

Memories and Adventures – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is a cornerstone text of a Sherlockian library, so I felt it important to make it through this book.  If I hadn't done it on audio, I'm not sure I could have done it.  For me, this book is like high school geometry: I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't choose to do it again.

On Conan Doyle: Or the Whole Art of Storytelling – Michael Dirda
This book was a whole other thing.  Dirda's biography was brisk and spent much more time focused on Sherlock Holmes and his role in Doyle's life.  If I am going to recommend a Doyle biography to someone, Dirda's book is definitely my choice.

Speaking of Michael Dirda, he heads up this next small section: books that aren't Sherlockian, but have enough Sherlockian content to consider.

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
Noted bookman, Michael Dirda has collected numerous articles on his life in the book world.  A member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and author of what one blogger has called his choice for Arthur Conan Doyle biographies, you can expect some great Sherlockian content in these pages.  And if you're reading this blog, chances are you're interested in books, so the rest of the book should be right up your alley, too.

Revenge of the Nerd: The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would be Booger – Curtis Armstrong
Yeah, a book with the word "Booger" in its title.  If you only know Curtis Armstrong as the gross guy from the Revenge of the Nerds movies, there's a lot more in this book for you to discover.  He's obviously a Sherlockian, joining his first scion when he was still in elementary school, and he has some great stories and thoughts on Sherlockians and our hobby scattered throughout.  I recommend doing this on audio, as it is narrated by Armstrong.  It's almost like hanging out and getting to hear some great Hollywood stories straight from the Booger's mouth.

Baker Street Reveries: Sherlockian Writings 2006-2016 – Leslie Klinger
I love everything Leslie Klinger puts out.  I've only read his Sherlockian stuff so far, but I got his new collection of 1920's crime fiction for Christmas just because his writing and editing projects are so well done.  So often, Klinger is obscured by his topic of study (Dracula, H.P. Lovecraft, authors taking on other seminal creations, etc.), but in this collection of essays, it's just the man and his thoughts on Sherlock Holmes.  A great book.

Sherlock Holmes for Dummies – Steve Doyle & David Crowder
Remember the For Dummies series that seemed to be everywhere a decade or so ago?  Those books were wildly popular for a reason.  Their quick and easy format is a fun way to learn (or relearn) some of the important points about Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Victorian London.

East Wind Coming: A Sherlock Holmes Study Book – Yuichi Hirayama & John Hall
This book really reminded me of "Dear Starrett, Dear Briggs."  Two Sherlockians question and discuss important points of Sherlockian lore and scholarship.  It was nice to hear what Sherlockians in another part of the world have to say about this interest that we all share.

Sherlock Holmes by Gas Lamp: Highlights from the First Four Decades of the Baker Street Journal – Philip Shreffler
I've talked in other posts about how much I enjoy reading the early scholarship of Sherlockiana.  And this book delivers in spades.  Some of the most important writings of our hobby are collected in this book, and even though I've heard a lot of it referenced and discussed before I read this book, I was nice to have the actual source material in front of me.  Definitely an important book to have.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: A Textbook of Friendship – Christopher Morley
This is a strange book.  Christopher Morley is great, and I love a lot of stuff he's done, but this book was essentially some canonical stories reprinted with only a handful of original material added.  The discussion questions were interesting, but as someone who makes discussion questions for a living, I was a little more critical of this book than the average reader probably would be.

Sherlock Holmes: The Reification of Hans Gerber – George Mann
This is an audio production put out by Big Finish with a full cast.  If you enjoy radio dramas or scripted podcasts, this is right up your alley.  Big Finish has a line of Sherlock Holmes audio dramas, and I found this one to be a fun time.  I will be dipping back into their catalog soon.

Sherlock Holmes is Like: Sixty Comparisons for an Incomparable Character – Christopher Redmond
Disclaimer: I have an essay in this book, but don't let that turn you off.  As a contributor, I got to see the table of contents before it was available to the public, and Chris Redmond has another great collection on his hands here.  From Robin Hood to Lucy from the Peanuts comics, there are so many great comparisons here, you never know what you're going to get next.

Holmes and Watson – June Thompson
This was a book that had been on my TBR list for a long time and I'm glad I finally got to it.  We've all read Sherlockian research that reads like a dusty old textbook, but that is not the case here.  Thompson's background in fiction lends itself well here and her narrative style makes the analysis flow.

Well, that's it for 2018, unless I somehow squeeze one more book in before midnight.  Up next on my Sherlockian reading will be Bill Mason's new book: A Holmes by Any Other Name.  And I might read one or two other Sherlockian books next year as well.

Happy New Year!