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East Bay Book Club Message Board › Meeting Recap: April 2012 Organizer's Pick Discussion (The Hound of the Bask

Meeting Recap: April 2012 Organizer's Pick Discussion (The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Group Organizer
Union City, CA
Post #: 17
Every time there's an Organizer's Pick Discussion meeting, I always wonder if the book I have chosen is appealing enough. This is especially true when my book pick is a relatively light book, like a Sherlock Holmes novel. Thankfully, it seemed that nobody hated the book 100%.

The club members who attended this meeting varied in their previous exposure to Sherlock Holmes stories and the mystery genre. Some have never read Sherlock Holmes or any mystery story. Others may have read other mystery authors, like Agatha Christie. Then there are people like me as well as club member Tracy who have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories before. It's quite an interesting mix, and it certainly helped bring diversity to this particular book discussion.

As the discussion leader, I asked the group seven discussion questions. I now provide you with an overview of some of the interesting answers that came up.

About the story being told in first person from Dr. John Watson's perspective, it seems to serve two purposes: add suspense to the story and represent the reader of average intelligence who is trying to follow Sherlock Holmes's thought process. Speaking of Holmes, some have commented that the detective is quite arrogant, which is no surprise given the man's higher than average IQ.

Two of the questions I asked the group involved clues in the mystery that were hard to figure out and moments in the story that were surprising. I asked these questions to see how effective this particular mystery story was. Among the responses, the missing boots and the escaped convict were elements in the story that made people ponder on the mystery. Surprising moments in the story included Holmes's sudden reappearance and the fact that the villain died accidentally instead of being arrested, a more expected conclusion.

There were a few moments where club members brought up questions of their own. For a while, there was discussion of the Baskerville family tree to sort out who was related to whom. Then Doug Coe asked the women in the group whether they found it believable for a married woman to pretend to be her husband's sister, to which two people answered that this was the 19th century, a more paternalistic time. Then there's the question about why people like to read mystery stories. There was one answer, but it was a good one: Mysteries have conclusions with clear endings, unlike real life.

Towards the end of the meeting, I asked why Sherlock Holmes could be so appealing after so many years. The two main answers were that we are fascinated by visionaries, even if they are jerks (kind of like Steve Jobs or the fictional Dr. House) and that we look up to such people for their ability to easily solve any problem. Then I asked if a real-life Sherlock Holmes could possibly exist in today's time. Some said maybe. I said that it can be true to a certain extent, but when you consider how the 19th century only had books to store information and no modern technologies like computers and the Internet, memorizing tons of info was necessary for someone like Sherlock Holmes in that era. These days, we don't memorize as much since we store all of that information outside our brains.

For final thoughts, everyone liked the book enough. Interestingly, some people admitted that they enjoyed The Hound of the Baskervilles more for its parts that are seen in literary or historical fiction than for the actual mystery. Also, club member Sue listened to an audiobook version of the story rather than read it and said it made the story interesting. What's really funny was how I literally tallied the number of people who liked the book and the number of people who didn't. The score turned out to be 16-0.

With that, I thank everyone who attended the meeting. I'm glad it was fun, and I look forward to more fun book discussion meetings. :-)
user 12499264
Victoria, BC
Post #: 1
Nice summary, Anthony!
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