“A mind needs a book as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”
– George R.R. Martin
February 8, 2020
Ironically, it was through the most serendipitous of circumstances that this collection was suggested to me. Following a lengthy discourse with my economics professor a long time ago in which I asked what he thought was the best way to learn logic, he, in his classic fashion, suggests not a textbook, but Sherlock Holmes! At the time, thought it was a joke myself. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t joking.
Here, now, many years later, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes was how I was introduced to logic through great fiction to boot.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnum opus, Sherlock Holmes, features characters that are rather unique but very believable; the setting is always authentic, the mysteries abound, and there’s puzzles wrapped in enigmas all woven into phenomenal fiction as well. This is one of the great reasons rereading this series is so easy and serves as a fictional fall back for reading, especially when a lot of modern fiction is quite lacking in logical substance.
In more modern times, there have been great mystery writers, and many imitators in countless ways, but none has truly come close to creating a fun, readable, witty, critically thinking, logical, and intriguing series in the way that Arthur Conan Doyle did when the Sherlock Holmes series. Those who attempt to follow in the author’s footsteps fall quite short, even when the authors have a template of what worked in the past. This is why, after my fourth reading of this series, it’s still a great as ever, and nothing really compares. And what’s more, there’s always something to learn from it, too.
Let’s boil it down. Great fiction is great because it allows wonder and imagination to take flight, and sparks creativity like nothing else. Sherlock Holmes definitely creates auspicious and believable adventures upon which any curious mind would Love to venture.
This fictional series does way more than that though. If it had only sparked imagination, it would have been a really good, or even a great series. But even so, it offers so much more. Sherlock Holmes is a veritable crashcourse into how to critically think and employ logic, wrapped up in a fantastic fictional package that is as timeless as it is robust.
For me, this book falls within what Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren referred to as the top tier of books. As the authors note in their landmark How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:
“Of the few thousand such books there is a much smaller number – here the number is probably less than a hundred – that cannot be exhausted by even the very best reading you can manage. How do you recognize this? Again it is rather mysterious, but when you have closed the book after reading analytically to the best of your ability, and place it back on the shelf, you have a sneaking suspicion that there is more there than you got….In fact, you cannot put your finger on it, but you know it is there. You find that you cannot forget the book, that you keep thinking about it and your reaction to it. Finally, you return to it. And remarkable things happen.”[Bold & Underline Emphasis Added]
Just as so:
“…if the book belongs to the highest class – the very small number of inexhaustible books – you discover on returning that the book seems to have grown with you. You see new things in it – whole new sets of new things – that you did not see before. Your previous understanding of the book is not invalidated; it is just as true as it ever was, and in the same ways that it was true before. But now it is true in still other ways, too.” [Bold & Underline Emphasis Added]
For me, this book – all of its fictional stories – accomplishes all of the above and more.
Granted, there are many other books in classical and even modern literature that offer many life lessons. However, none teach the individual the foundation for critical thinking and logic like Sherlock Holmes does. This is why this stands above and beyond countless other books when it comes to those two crucial points.
If you homeschool, if you’re an autodidact, a self-directed learner, or simply someone that wants to read a great book, then read this. You will not regret it.
 Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, p. 333.
 Ibid., p. 333.
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