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Engaging Methuen Readers


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4 Things You Didn’t Know About Sherlock Holmes

That’s right, kids: it’s Sherlock time! The world’s greatest detective (other than Batman) was born on January 6, 1854. He is now 165 years young and still the most filmed fictional character in the world. Here’s a little Sherlock trivia for true fans and movie nights.

1. He’s been on screen more than 254 times

As of 2012, Holmes had been portrayed on film an average of three times per year since his TV debut in 1938. This statistic comes to us courtesy of the good people at Guinness Book of World Records, who must have spent an awfully long time counting up Holmes appearances. That figure doesn’t even count more modern Holmes portrayals, such as the spoof that currently stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

In case you’re dying to see some obscure Holmes on screen, then the MVLC library system can connect you with such wonders as Young Sherlock Holmes, where Sherlock is a hip teen; The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, where Gene Wilder tries desperately and hilariously to live up to the real deal; and Sherlock Gnomes, which only gets away with that pun because it’s for kids. See the whole list here!

2. Holmes claimed he used drugs because he got bored between cases

Sherlock was addicted to both cocaine and morphine, which were technically legal in Victorian England. That said, their adverse health effects were well known to the medical community. Holmes’ friend, the medical doctor Watson, wasn’t anywhere near as bumbling in the books as he’s generally portrayed on-screen, and he voiced considerable alarm at Holmes’ drug use. In return, his friend shot him down with one of the lamest excuses in literature: he was bored. Here’s what he had to say in Chapter 1 of The Sign of the Four:

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession,—or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”

Maybe do a puzzle instead?

3. The TV show House was based on Sherlock Holmes

Suspend your disbelief for a minute and consider that Gregory House solved unsolvable medical mysteries through deduction, had a drug problem, and had a friend named Wilson. House is a close match for Home, which sounds like Holmes. Wilson and Watson are also close. House even lives at an address numbered 221b. Best of all, Hugh Laurie himself confirms that the surly doc was modeled on the Victorian detective.

4. Sherlock has never been played by a woman…until now!

It’s not surprising that a male detective from the Victorian era is generally played by guys. At the same time, there’s been a female Watson, a female Doctor Who, and lots of modernized adaptations of Sherlock Holmes himself. If Holmes can be a grumpy doctor, a garden ornament, and a New Yorker. Why not a lady?

In fact, a female Sherlock, who lives in Japan, is set to release on HBO Asia.

There’s one caveat that needs pointing out, however. Holmes hasn’t been played on-screen by a woman, but literature is a completely different story. In the Eleanor Arnason story Holmes Sherlock, an alien woman studying Earth literature adopts the stylistic peculiarities of Sherlock Holmes when she becomes enchanted by Arthur Conan Doyle’s mysteries. Incidentally, this alien’s people are universally homosexual and female-led. You can read the entire story here!

 

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To The Audiobooks I’ve Heard On My Ride To Work

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Time spent behind the wheel of my car is time not spent engaged in productive activity, such as learning to play the flute or weeding geraniums. Whether I would become a musician or gardener with the time I now spend driving every day is an open question. However, there is still an opportunity to become, if not well-read, then at least familiar with a broad range of literature. This is especially true when the drudgery of the automobile is paired with Libby, the free library audiobook app.

Libby is an access portal for OverDrive, which is probably the most popular e-book and e-audiobook lending platform currently in existence. OverDrive hit the market early and hit it hard, rolling with every technological upgrade and innovation and shift. Within five years, CD audiobooks gave way to MP3s downloaded through OverDrive’s media app and loaded onto iPods, which in turn gave way to downloaded and then streaming audiobooks that never left the efficient angular nest of the smartphone. And it was all free.

I lean heavily on Libby for my audiobook joy. One of the things I most appreciate about it is that my demands are usually not met. If I had my way, I’d read nothing but bizarro apocalypse science fiction, in the same way that if I had my way I’d eat nothing but sushi and chocolate covered potato chips. Research conducted by me indicates that a diet of extreme, gore-oriented science fiction is about as good for your mind and social skills as a diet of carbohydrates and raw fish is good for your physical longevity. Literary fiction uplifts and transforms. It fosters empathy, cognitive skills, conversational awareness. That’s why it’s good, for my sake, that OverDrive is a veritable desert of screamingly weird garbage. When a book is available – and that is an event worth jumping for – it is normally an example of either Literature or Education. Currently, I am listening to Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, a collection of short stories that wrestles with identity and place and is definitely Literature. My last audiobook, A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard, was Education, albeit satisfyingly gory and strange. The combination has populated my dreams with pregnant ambulances agonizing about their relationships with their fathers, so I assume that whatever is supposed to be making me a better person is working.

I hear these books out as I plow microscopic furrows in the asphalt to and from my place of employment, usually listening at double or triple speed. That’s how I know I was born into the right era: I can listen to an audiobook at thrice the speed of speech. (Or half, if I’m working my way though a children’s book in Spanish.) Without the magic of audiobooks, my available reading opportunities would be consumed and expelled with my car’s exhaust every day.

In a world where I could ride the train to work, I could be more productive. I could pair my audio commute with my latest crochet project, for example, rapidly reducing my holiday gift and personal reading lists simultaneously. But I don’t live in a world where eco-friendly travel infrastructure is considered a priority, alas. I live in a world where I sit rigidly in a confined space, watching an hour-long movie about all the ways that other cars can barely miss my front fender. And in that world, audiobooks are more than entertainment. They’re a heartbeat in a sensory deprivation chamber. They’re the lone bulb in my mental safe room.


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Abraham Lincoln: the man, the legend, the literary figure

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The Great Emancipator. The best President in history. Savior of the Union. Honest Abe. President Lincoln has gone by many names throughout history, and in keeping with his exalted status as a terrific president, he has appeared in nonfiction from Team of Rivals to How to Fight Presidents. Today, we call him AWESOME and celebrate him in fiction!

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Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

One man stands between us and the bloodthirsty undead: Abraham Lincoln, whose zeal for destroying vampires propels him into the White House. From there, he personally and politically defends us all against Confederate ranks swollen with vamps. Grahame-Smith interwove plenty of real history into the fictional story of Honest Abe, the slayer of inhuman hordes, so expect to have trouble separating fact and fiction.

 

 

The Hypo: the melancholic young Lincoln by Noah Van Scive1380319r

This story is not actually fiction: Abraham Lincoln really suffered from what was then known as melancholy. Today, psychologists would probably consider him bipolar or a victim of major depression. But despite the fact that it’s historically accurate, The Hypo is a graphic account of Lincoln’s life that features him as a character, taking pieces from history and weaving them into a narrative of the dark times that he had in his twenties. Also, it’s great, so we’re including it anyway. A must-read.

 

 

1347699.jpgThe Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter

1867. Two years after having survived an assassination attempt, President Abraham Lincoln is about to be impeached for botching Reconstruction. Enter a young, indomitable black law clerk, Abigail Canner, who might just be Lincoln’s last hope. The meticulous research that went into this arresting book shines through every page. Historical fiction at its best!

 

 

 

Lincoln: a novel by Gore Vidal1137243

Lincoln is often upheld as a modern saint, but there’s another story beneath the hero worship: the story of a sly politician, a conflicted leader, and a man whose personal tragedies shaped his actions. Gore Vidal’s classic historical novel breathes life into the 16th President again.

 

 

Want more Lincoln? Also watch:

1416970.jpgLincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis

During his final months in office, Lincoln struggles with the moral and political complexities of a nation in flux.

 

1388312Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter starring Benjamin Walker

Who protects us against the bloodsucking hordes? Abraham Lincoln, of course! Based on the book.

 

1308891.jpgThe Conspirator starring Danny Huston

This film focuses on the lone woman charged in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln, Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where Lincoln’s murder was planned.

 

1595540.jpgBetter Angels starring Brit Marling

The harsh Indiana wilderness and two remarkable women shape young Abraham Lincoln into the man we know.