The Sherlock Holmes Companion

The Sherlock Holmes CompanionThe Sherlock Holmes Companion
by Michael Hardwick, Mollie Hardwick
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 0517219166
Publication Date: January 1, 1962
Pages: 262
Genre: Books and Reading, Reference
Publisher: Bramhall House

One of my acquisitions from my visit to the Berkelouw Book Barn, this isn’t really a sit-down-and-read book, so much as it’s a handy reference of characters, story plots and a selection of quotes (which I found to be a mediocre selection, at best).  But there are two ‘chapters’ at the back that offer small biographies of Sherlock and Holmes, and one of Conan Doyle himself.

The Sherlock/Watson biographies about what you’d expect, although I’m constantly amazed, whenever I read these types of things, how much presumption is done on the part of the fans who write them, no matter how learned those fans are.  I can never get through one without periodic outbursts along the lines of give me a break!.  While this one was no different, I was, at least relieved to see that the authors dismissed the nonsense that Holmes, pre-Watson, had had a great love that died, leaving him unable to ever love again.

The chapter of Conan Doyle’s mini-biography was concise but packed with his life, including quite a few facts I’d yet to read about (I have Hesketh’s biography waiting for me on my TBR, and one of these days I’m going to get ahold of Dickson Carr’s ACD bio too).   ACD was not only an author of mythical skill, he was a truely good man who fought for pretty much any cause that needed fighting for, and a prescient man, correctly forseeing what a war with submarines and advanced weaponry would mean for the crumbling empire soon the enter WWI.  That question that makes the rounds every once in awhile: who would you go back in time to speak with, if you could?  Without question, it would be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, every time.

Finding Australian Birds

Finding Australian Birds: A Field Guide to Birding LocationsFinding Australian Birds: A Field Guide to Birding Locations
by Rohan Clarke, Tim Dolby
Rating: ★★★★★
Publication Date: May 15, 2014
Pages: 602
Genre: Natural Science, Reference
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing


In the category of “books likely to only appeal to the .01%”, I give you this solid gold publication.  As I live in Australia for now, and I enjoy stalking its amazing birds with my camera (purely amateur hour and likely even more entertaining for the birds than it is for me), and I’m rapidly running out of ‘new-to-me’ birds in my area, I grabbed this on a whim when I saw it at my local bookstore.

It exceeded my expectations, to say the least.  Broken down by state, then by region, complete with common birds, not-so-common birds, descriptions, maps and suggested road trips to bird hotspots!  I fell in love with this feature, as it includes day trips, weekend trips and dedicated bird-stalking 10 day trips.  It then capped itself with a cherry on top by highlighting areas that also included interesting non-birding things to do, for those unfortunate spouses such as mine, who like birds well enough, but don’t find the need to stalk them, yet still find themselves dragged along for the ride.

I wish I could say this was part of a larger, international publication series, so I could urge my other bird loving friends to find their locals edition, but it’s published by CSIRO, which stands for The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; it’s an Australian Government agency responsible for scientific research, so unlikely to part of a greater publishing series.  But if anyone reading this is ever in Australia and intends to add some birds to their lists, you can’t go wrong picking this book up beforehand.