My Books of 2013 – Part 4: Classics

Previously: Part 3 – Fiction

I try to read a couple of “classics” (or old books) each year, to broaden my literary knowledge and maybe boast a bit?

The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes #7) – Arthur Conan Doyle

736130Holmes and faithful Dr. Watson are summoned to a country house by a coded message. They arrive too late to save a life, but pursue the trail to unmasking the murderer.

I like reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. They are good mysteries and feel like the basis of what modern murder-mystery stories are based on. The one thing I like less about these is that it is very hard to figure out the mystery for yourself because you are never given all the same clues as Sherlock.

Aug. 13

Little Women (Little Women #1) – Louisa May Alcott

6252154Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters–Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth– and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.

I liked this book. It is a nice story about a family sticking together through tough times and always trying to do right. Sometimes it felt a little too moralizing. I think that is both a sign of the times and the author.

Oct. 8 – Oct. 12

Good Wives (Little Women #1.5) – Louisa May Alcott

78960Amy looked relieved, but naughty Jo took her at her word, for during the first call she sat with every limb gracefully composed, every fold correctly draped, calm as a summer sea, cool as a snowbank, and as silent as the sphinx. In vain Mrs. Chester alluded to her ‘charming novel’, and the Misses Chester introduced parties, picnics, the opera, and the fashions. Each and all were answered by a smile, a bow, and a demure “Yes” or “No” with the chill on.

I did not realize when I started Little Women that the story is sometimes split into two (Little Women and Good Wives). I felt like I had to read Good Wives as well now that I’d read Little Women. Like the first book, it exudes decency. The girls make mistakes, remember the lessons their mom told them and fix their mistakes. Nothing in real life is ever that easy (at least not to me).

Oct. 13 – Oct. 20

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

6519719The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth.

I read this book now because of the new film version released this year. I haven’t seen the film but I did really enjoy the book. I found Gatsby intriguing and liked that the story was told from the point of view of a “normal” person, someone we could identify with.

Oct. 21 – Oct. 24

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

11323701Impish, daring young Tom Sawyer is a hero to his friends and a torment to his relations. For wherever there is mischief or adventure, Tom is at the heart of it. During one hot summer, Tom witnesses a murder, runs away to be a pirate, attends his own funeral, rescues an innocent man from the gallows, searches for treasure in a haunted house, foils a devilish plot and discovers a box of gold. But can he escape his nemesis, the villainous Injun Joe?

This was much more readable than I had expected for such an old book (it was first published in 1876). It was an enjoyable story, although clearly from a different time. Children these days wouldn’t get away with all that Tom Sawyer gets away with.

Oct. 31 – Nov. 6

Next: Part 5 – Non-fiction

My books of 2012 – Part Five: Murder mystery

Part One – Biography/Autobiography

Part Two – Non-fiction

Part Three – Historical Fiction

Part Four – Young Adult Fantasy

The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

33161“From “A Scandal in Bohemia,” in which Sherlock Holmes is famously outwitted by a woman, the captivating Irene Adler, to “The Five Orange Pips,” in which the master detective is pitted against the Ku Klux Klan, to “The Final Problem,” in which Holmes and his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, face each other in a showdown at the Reichenbach Falls, the stories that appear in The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmesbear witness to the flowering of author Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius. “The plain fact,” the celebrated mystery writer Vincent Starrett asserted, “is that Sherlock Holmes is still a more commanding figure in the world than most of the warriors and statesmen in whose present existence we are invited to believe.”” – GoodReads

3 stars

A Study In Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) – Arthur Conan Doyle

102868“”A Study in Scarlet” is the first published story of one of the most famous literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. Here Dr. Watson, who has just returned from a war in Afghanistan, meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time when they become flat-mates at the famous 221 B Baker Street. In “A Study in Scarlet” Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder at Lauriston Gardens as Dr. Watson tags along with Holmes while narratively detailing his amazing deductive abilities.” – GoodReads

4 stars

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) – Arthur Conan Doyle

608474“Yellow fog is swirling through the streets of London, and Sherlock Holmes himself is sitting in a cocaine-induced haze until the arrival of a distressed and beautiful young lady forces the great detective into action. Each year following the strange disappearance of her father, Miss Morstan has received a present of a rare and lustrous pearl. Now, on the day she is summoned to meet her anonymous benefactor, she consults Holmes and Watson.” – GoodReads

3 stars

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes #5) – Arthur Conan Doyle

8921“Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?” – GoodReads

4 stars

The Return of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

194366“A duke’s young son, heir to a vast fortune, suddenly disappears from boarding school, and when Holmes and Watson take on the case to find him, they instead find themselves with a murder on their hands in The Priory School In Black Peter, a retired sea captain with few friends and many enemies is discovered dead in his cabin, with few clues as to the culprit. Holmes meets his match when he crosses paths with Charles Augustus Milverton, notorious for his dastardly blackmail of society women with a past. And in The Six Napoleons, a bizarre act of vandalism piques Holmes’s interest. Does someone bear a grudge towards the Emperor, and if so, why?” – GoodReads

4 stars

I like the Sherlock Holmes stories. They feel slow though, probably because they were written so long ago.

The Secret Adversary – Agatha Christie

49596“Agatha Christie’s popular detective team Tommy and Tuppence make their first appearance in this novel, in which the duo is hired to find a woman who disappeared with sensitive government documents but soon find themselves drawn into a complicated web of intrigue, intelligence agents, dubious identities, missing government papers, false clues, and danger.” – GoodReads

4 stars

 

I remember liking this story, but I don’t remember the story now. I don’t know what that tells you…