I found myself groaning at my reading list this semester, as I’ve never been a huge fan of books that are dated before the 1900s, and I felt defeated that I didn’t recognise a single one of them. However, I found my opinion changed very quickly upon completing the first few books on the list.
The Hound of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.
In this novel, the famous Sherlock Holmes and his trusty, loyal companion, Dr. Watson, take on a case involving an old family tragedy and, whilst solving the mystery, find themselves face to face with the ‘myth’ of the tragedy itself. As I’ve never been a fan of detective novels, I really thought I would loathe every page of this text. Yet, I discovered that in an hour I’d devoured half of the book! Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a particularly hard book to read – but something about the book really grabbed my attention.
This was the first Sherlock Holmes adventure that I’ve ever read, and I can honestly say that it was captivating. The cunning plot gave a genuinely inconceivable ending and, without giving too much away, the culprit definitely was not who I expected it to be. I thoroughly loved reading this book and would absolutely recommend it, especially if you love novels that contain themes of myths, crime, and the supernatural.
King Solomon’s Mines by H.R. Haggard.
The next book I encountered – with a slightly more enlightened frame of mind, I’ll add – was yet again a smashing success in my books (pardon the pun). King Solomon’s Mines was a fantastic combination of humour and adventure. In the novel, the narrator (Allan Quatermain) goes on a mission with two companions, Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good, and their helpers, seeking to find Sir Henry’s long-lost brother in the deep desert of Africa. They go with not only the motivation to find him but also the knowledge of where he was heading: King Solomon’s mines, which are full of diamonds and treasures, enough to make them the richest men in the world.
Well, as is normal of all adventure novels, things don’t really go to plan. They encounter a Zulu tribe, who take them in and treat them as supernatural Gods due to their advanced weapons and white skin (warning: this text was published in 1885, so there is the minimal use of offensive language). To cut a long story short, the novel is amazing. A lot of my classmates did not enjoy the book, but I found it to be a touching story that emphasised the importance of companionship, whilst also serving as a comedic tale that displayed three rather pompous English gentlemen at the hands of a brute and savage tribal King.
Overall, these novels were a wonderful read and I highly recommend both of them. If you do struggle to read large novels as much as I do, take my advice and download the audiobooks. I can’t even begin to tell you how much easier it is to read along to an actor’s voice. It helps you envision the events of the book so much easier and can be a great way to relax too!