2016 Book Challenge- A Book You Should Have Read in School
I’m a little behind on my 2016 Book Challenge write ups, but not behind on the reading itself. The reading has definitely been happening, but the around-the-world-move has put a damper on the time I should be spending getting these posts ready to go. (Kuala Lumpur to Boise to Washington DC- bonus room living and then a hotel room with *terrible* internet. None of these are good posting conditions! We officially move into our Chinatown place this Saturday, so here’s hoping life falls back into some semblance of order.)
My July Book Challenge topic was “a book you should have read in school.” I’m going with The Hounds of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I mainly went with this pick because my niece *was* reading it for school and I was helping her with a paper she had to write before the new year started and it has been decades since my last reading, which was probably in college. I definitely did not read this one in high school.
First of all, I have to question why I didn’t read this in high school. I’m really not sure. I took a lot of English classes at that time, but wasn’t as intrigued by the literary world as I am today. If memory serves, I did the reading required of me, but am not sure I did much beyond that. Thinking back to those three years at Caldwell High (at that time, freshman were still in the junior high), I can’t remember ever checking out a book from the school library. I remember going in to do a bit of research (mostly encyclopedia, as this was before the days of the wonderful Worldwide Web) or going for a class activity, but it is not somewhere I spent much time. (Highly strange, I know! When I was teaching, we were in the school library at least every week and we walked to the local public library a minimum of one time each quarter. Libraries are where it is at!) This lack of my own reading in high school makes me thrilled when I see my niece’s reading lists. While I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more diversity and modern additions to them, at least they exist. Looking back, I’m not sure what I had going on in this area during high school. I really don’t.
Other than being excited that it was on a reading list, I’ve been in a bit of a Sherlock-phase lately, as the genre (it is nearly is its own designation at this point!) has become popular with the TV producers of the world. I started with the BBC one last winter and ran through all the episodes available (so few per season, why BBC??) and then went to Elementary, which must have been on cable TV, but popped upon Malaysian Netflix. Sadly, I only made it through a couple of seasons before moving back and it isn’t on US Netflix. (Can I use my VPN to go the opposite direction?)
I loved jumping into the original Doyle book after my recent modern-day binge. Not only did it give me a renewed love of the literature itself, but I also found myself impressed by the ways Sherlock’s character has been brought to life in a contemporary setting. Fessing up to sheer nerdiness, I must admit to having loved getting to sit down over empanadas and coffee (two different meetings, those things do not go together well!) to talk about books with my niece as she prepared for her paper. From our discussions, one thing that stood out to me in relation to the difference between the literature and the shows is what it takes to draw in an audience. When Doyle was writing, a huge dog covered in glowing powder was enough to set readers on edge. Imagining being alone on the moors at night, the howling of mysterious canines and the possibility of a horrible, yet unexplained death was just the stuff to keep a reader turning pages. The literary imagery was enough. With today’s amazing technology and production abilities, it seems that the level of detail and perfection needed to induce that same anxiety exists at a much higher bar. I’m not sure today’s reader has the same petrified reaction to The Hounds of Baskervilles as they did a hundred years ago, and yet, the writing itself holds up. The characters still ring true. This is why certain books are classics. And The Hounds of Baskervilles has earned its place on that roster.
Getting the chance to reread The Hounds of Baskervilles alongside my niece was a treat! While it may not seem like a typical summer “beach read,” it was the prefect July pick.
In Search of the End of the Sidewalk’s 2016 Reading Challenge
– A book published this year (A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin) A book you can finish in a day (When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi)
_____A book you’ve been meaning to read
_____ A book recommended to you by a librarian
A book you should have read in school (The Hounds of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle)
A book recommended for you by your spouse/partner, friend, child, or sibling (Jasper Fforde books) A book published before you were born (And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie) A book that was banned at some point (A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess)
_____ A book you abandoned previously
_____ A book you own but have never read
_____ A book that intimidates you
A book you’ve read at least once (I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali)