K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Dec 28, 11

bookshelves: 501, detective, british
Recommended to K.D. by: Kristel
Read from December 16 to 28, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Not related to the book yet

This is the book that completes my 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge! 275 books and I still have 3 days to spare. My first target was 200 because that was the the annual target of the author Nicholas Sparks as he said in one of his interviews. But I achieved it in September so I changed it to 250. But I achieved 250 on the last week of October and I thought I could still read 25 more. So, here I am, proud that I was able to read 275 books!!! Last year, I only read 196 books and I did not top Nicholas Sparks. Now, I am able to and I still keep my 8-5 office job.

So, how is it to read 275 books in 360 days? It is very rewarding. Reading brought me to a lot of unfamiliar places, time and situations. Reading is very enriching (at least in mind, not yet in terms of financial rewards). I no longer worry about so many menial and mundane things that I used to worry about. When I am worry now, I think of the books about holocaust or 9/11, since I read a lot of books about these two, and say that my worry (of something that did not actually happen) is nothing compared to what Elie Wiesel or Victor Frankl experienced in the concentration camps. Also, when presented with a situation, be it in the office or at home, I now have a bigger perspective and no longer focus on my personal bias and prejudices. I used to have a lot of those before I became a voracious reader.

How was I able to read a lot? Two techniques that I developed this year: (1) I read in every opportunity. I bring at least two books everywhere I go. I read before going to sleep. I read before getting out of bed. I read almost the whole Saturdays and Sundays. We have maids in the Philippines. I read while waiting for the car ban (we call this color coding) at the gym. I read while on queue at the ATM machine. I read the bible or any related religious book while waiting for the priest to show up during the Holy Mass; and (2) I read 5-12 books simultaneously. The idea is that if the book becomes boring or the story becomes dragging, switch to an enjoyable one. Normally, the start of the book is very engaging and the end is very interesting but the middle could be a bore. If this happens, start a new one. If it is good, then I'll be able to finish it in few days and then I go back to the previous book. Because my energy is high, the boring part will be manageable (translations: forgivable or unnoticeable) and I'll be able to continue.

Have I cheated? Are there books whose entirety I did not read? No and yes. I think I did not understand everything but I tried reading each and every word in all of the 275 books. They say that there are indeed books that are intended to be taken as puzzle. Think of Ulysses by James Joyce. He put so many puzzles or riddles in the story that he expected to be interpreted in many different ways by generations to come. I think this is the beauty of reading and one reason why I enjoy works of great literary masters: their works can be interpreted in many ways and each of their works give different meanings to me every time I read them.

So what will be my objective for 2012? I will read more classics. I have to finish Sir Conan Doyle's canon. To finally finish and try to get the gist of the whole of Ulysses, my "waterloo" book. I am still to read Mark Twain. My long delayed appreciation of Henry James' works. I have to re-discover Charles Dickens. I will read another Virginia Woolf. Another Jane Austen. Another Salman Rushdie. I need to complete the works of Haruki Murakami since I have the copies already. I will also need to increase my quota for Filipino works particularly novels written in Tagalog. I should be able to support Filipino authors by buying and reading their works.

Top 10 Favorite Reads in 2011: 1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; 2. Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac; 3. Embers by Sandor Marai; 4. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai; 5. Wuthering Heights by Emilie Bronte; 6. Dusk by F. Sionil Jose; 7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey; 8. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien; 9. The Wars by Timothy Findley and 10. Ang Sandali ng Mga Mata by Alvin B. Yapan. These are the books that I'd like to recommend to you if you have not read them. Except #10, they are all in English.


Now about this book

This is my first novel about Sherlock Holmes. I only read two books from this genre before and both of them by female writers: Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Sarah Cauldwell's And Thus Adonis was Murdered. These two are good and well written but I just find all those whodunnit quite uninteresting. Mystery crime books are focused on what happened (where, who, why and when actually not just what) and authors make them so convoluted for the readers to not be able to predict who is the real murderer. This being the nature of the genre, it normally lacks the human emotion that make me enjoy reading.

And so I thought that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the same as the two ladies. A big mistake.

A Study in Scarlet his first novel and where Sherlock Holmes was introduced to the world, has that emotional drama particularly on revenge because of lost love. The structure of the novel is very interesting: two seemingly independent "stories" fused into two. The first one is about Holmes meeting his narrator, Dr. John H. Watson and they started sharing a room because they cannot afford the rent. There is a crime that two detectives cannot solve and they want to have the opinion Holmes. Before the end of the first story, Holmes is able to tell who the real killer is. When he said "Gentlemen, let me introduce to you Mr. Jefferson Hope..." my mouth was open, my jaw dropped and I could not speak as I was taken by full surprise.

Then suddenly comes the "second" story whose narrative style, characters and setting are totally different that the first. It was quite jarring and I asked myself, is this still related to the first part or maybe the publisher made a mistake during the book binding or reprint as this could be a totally different story, one of the 46 stories? Only after 10-15 pages when some names became familiar and I was able to predict the connection. However, I like this "second" story better. The setting is in the heartland USA and it felt like an old western story (a totally unexplored genre for me). It has that emotional drama of forbidden love and the father supporting his daughter to follow her heart. Mushy yet yummy for me. Men, real men, writing about love are really interesting for me. They don't go overboard and play or trick your emotion yet they are in it.

I liked this book. My first foray to Sherlock Holmes. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a 501 Must Read Book and it also became a Book of the Month for our Filipinos group here in Goodreads. I thought why only read that collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories if I could read the whole canon? With me liking his first novel A Study in Scarlet, I think I now have the right motivation to read his other 3 novels and all his 46 short stories. Had this been a disappointment (2 stars or less), I think I would not bother reading all his other works.
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Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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Shayantani Das 275 BOOKS! WOW! that is amazing :)


K.D. Absolutely Tanu: I agree. I was also not expecting to read this many. Reading is just sooo addicting.


Tiny Mendoza WOW. :O HAHAHAHA! Congrats. =))


K.D. Absolutely Tiny: Some of the 275 are Bob Ong books!


message 5: by Isaiah! (new)

Isaiah! :bd


message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Wow, 275!


message 7: by Praj (new)

Praj Bravo!!! My reading slacked this year. Maybe, next year I might give you a tough fight. :D... Have a wonderful New Year!!


K.D. Absolutely Thanks a lot, Isaiah, Lisa and Praj. Part of this addiction really is due to you who are my friends here in Goodreads. The whole reading experience includes reading reviews of fellow booklovers like you. There are so many instances when I don't want to read the book I have yet but after reading glowing reviews by my friends, I crack the book open and start reading and see if my friend's review is the same as mine.

Praj: Oh, that will be interesting. I am not sure if I will go for the same number (275) next year. My daughter is already complaining that I am always in my room reading.


message 9: by Grace (new)

Grace Tjan "We have maids in the Philippines."

We have them too in Indonesia, but the most I can manage in a year is to read 60 - 70 books only. :) Your 275 books a year is very impressive.

Having read the entire Holmes canon, I think the short stories are definitely better than the novels, with the exception of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Have fun discovering them!


message 10: by Meg ♥ (new)

Meg ♥ Wow so many books. I hope to read 200 in 2012! Great reading this year :-)


message 11: by Epee (new)

Epee I am very impressed. I couldn't even afford all those books and do not like library ones.


message 12: by Petra X (last edited Dec 28, 2011 06:04PM) (new)

Petra X 275 books is awesome. I don't know how many I read, probably 170+ but that's because I have a bookshop and very few book sales :-(

I have very much enjoyed reading your reviews this year.


message 13: by Tina (new)

Tina Wow 275! I think I can break 125 this year, but I may end up reading a slim book in the end just to get to that number. Still, it's more than what I read in the past years, ever. Next year I'm hoping to read more, and that includes the chunksters (Pillars of the Earth, Game of Thrones) and more classics (Jane Eyre, Little Women to name a few). :D Here's to 2011, and to an even better reading year in 2012! :D


message 14: by Sue (new)

Sue Interesting top 10 K.D. and I like your goals for 2012. I reached a new high for myself this year, currently just over 100 (not at your altitude) and it is fun and exciting to challenge yourself with new reading, new types of books.

Happy New Year and happy reading.


message 15: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Sandybanks: I have just finished the second novel, The Rule of Four and I thought I liked the first novel better. Now, I will start reading his stories. Thanks for the heads up.

Meg: Thanks.

Epee: I share my books with my brother and he shares mine with me. So, some of the books in my shelves are actually owned by him. Also, think 70% of them are second-hand.

Petra X: Wow! You have a bookstore! Thanks for appreciating my reviews.

Tina: Yes, I will also have that as my New Year's Reading Resolution. I will read more CLASSIC works. Maybe at the expense of my YA books like Divergent.

Sue: Oh yes, the list is interesting Sue. The list is the reason why I think I will read more classic works. I sometimes get influenced by friends when new books come out and they all rave about this or that new book. But at the end of the year, when I look at the books that I really enjoyed, they are still the classics!


message 16: by Sue (new)

Sue I read more classics this year too and likely will next year too. Happy New Year K.D.


message 17: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Happy New Year to you and your loved ones too, Sue. My wish for both of us is that we pick the best books to read in 2012. May each decision of reading a book turn out right. May each book we read enrich our lives by continuously providing nourishment to our brains!

Yey! It is exactly 12 hours before New Year here in the Philippines! :)


message 18: by Sue (new)

Sue I forget how far ahead you are. I'm glad I wished it now. And thanks for the thoughtful wishes. I send them right back to you. At times you are an inspiration to me to branch out and try very different books to read.

Also, never fear, I will be getting to Before Ever After. Can't believe I haven't read it yet. But it's looking at me and asking to be read soon!


message 19: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely No apologies needed, Sue. I am still to crack "Silk" too. But it is in my tbr and it will be my first short story compilation book when I am mood to read one.


message 20: by Sue (new)

Sue This is what happens when we have so many books we love. And now I have a lot of books on hand as I bought a bunch at an online store very inexpensively. Now they've arrived and I have to figure out where to put them so I'll know what I have. The curse of the book lover! (not a bad one to have)


Carlo Congrats on your reads. Good luck next year!


message 22: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Sue: I am equally guilty as you ha ha. I went to Cebu for a 4-day vacation this week. I spent 2 days roaming around the city hunting for second-hand books. I bought around 20 books also inexpensively.

Carlo: Thanks! Good luck to all of us in 2012!


message 23: by Sue (new)

Sue Well, we won't run out of books to read! Happy New Year again. I think it must actually be 2012 now in the Philippines. We have another 12+ hours (maybe I will finish another book!)


Carlo Thanks, K.D..


Ellie I was more interested in the first part where you talk about your reading accomplishment more than the actual review. I share your two reading techniques, but I always found that most people I shared them with thought it was such a disorganised or simply weird way of reading books, though I've used it since I can remember. Especially the second they don't seem to understand--how I can recall what's from which book, how do I reprise reading after long periods of time, etc. As you said, it works terribly well for me, too, and it is great when interest becomes diminished in one book or there's sudden interest in another I just cannot wait to read.

I think these two techniques are really the only way why people who use them manage to read through vast amounts of books each year. Good luck for 2012!


message 26: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Sue.

You're welcome, Carlo.

Ellie: Oh, I agree. Some people hate those techniques. For me, they work. It helps maybe that I can juggle the thoughts in my mind and keep the scenes in their own corners in my brain. I am fond of seeing movies when I was not yet an avid reader. My friend commented once that he admired the fact that I could still remember the scenes in most of those movies. Not only the A movies but also the B's and even some of the C's. :)


message 27: by Sheila (new)

Sheila First, thanks for directing me to this review after I asked how you do it. I'm feeling a little unbalanced these days because I haven't read a page since I got busy at work. It affects me. But now I know there's a way, thanks for sharing your techniques. I read a lot of books all at the same time, but I haven't thought of switching from one to another when I get bored, which happens a lot in the middle of the story, just like what you said. I like what you said about the holocaust. I've only read one book related to it: I am David by Anne Holm. It was a very unforgettable book and for a time, I can't stop thinking about the boy, David, because he was so intense in his thoughts. If he was real, I'd be afraid to touch him because I might never let him go. These books, they're not just an escape. They teach us things that people have long forgotten. Like empathy and compassion. And I'm so glad you've experienced it, KD. And really, thanks for sharing. I need those techniques: )


message 28: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely You're welcome, Shiela. :)


message 29: by Krissy (new)

Krissy Have always been fond of your reviews. No wonder how magnificent a wide reader can be. :)


message 30: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thank you, Krissy.


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