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 “shown himself for over twenty years” [NOBL]

Invariably, the first question we ask our interview guests on the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast is “When did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?”

While the same question may be tiresome, the variety in the answers we receive is not.

Some have been influenced by popular media, depending on their age and viewing habits: Basil Rathbone on Saturday matinee showings on TV, the Granada series starring Jeremy Brett, The Great Mouse Detective, Sherlock — everyone's Sherlock Holmes on screen varies.

Then there are those who were introduced from a couple of short stories in school, most often "The Red-Headed League" and "The Speckled Band."

And of course, the lucky few who discovered William Baring-Gould's The Annotated Sherlock Holmes.

How we envy those who read the stories for the very first time! 

Which brings us to a recent "By the Book" column in The New York Times, in which Rick Rubin was interviewed. [Link to gift article]

He was asked:

What book should everybody read before the age of 21?

Sherlock Holmes is great, the earlier the better. The stories are engaging and they train readers to look deeply into all they see. A great primer for awareness practice.

We certainly don't object to Rubin's recommendation. He's absolutely correct that the stories are rich in detail, although we don't all see the same things that Holmes did until after they're explained. Or we at least don't observe.

But we'd also argue that Sherlock Holmes stories should be read later in life as well. For it is only then that we can appreciate the depth of friendship, the nuances of relationships, the societal inequities, the more significant elements of the human psyche that are at work. It's part of what we talk about on the Trifles podcast.

The Sherlock Holmes stories tell us so much about life; it takes living a certain amount of life to appreciate the depth and breadth of it all.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention this truth about rereading books:

“When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.” — Clifton Fadiman

Clifton Fadiman was an intellectual, author, editor, and radio and television personality. And he ran in the same orbit as Christopher Morley, the founder of the Baker Street Irregulars.

Fadiman hosted Information, Please!, a radio quiz show to which Christopher Morley made occasional visits. Since Fadiman was the book review editor for The New Yorker, that made Morley's appearances a near-certainty. It didn't hurt that Fadiman had been a guest at the 1944 Trilogy Dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars.

When is the right time to pick up a Sherlock Holmes book?

Whenever you feel like it.

And yes, read Sherlock Holmes by the age of 21 if you please. But read him when you're 71 or 81 or 101. 

And at all ages in between.

Further information:

If you'd like to hear about the Beacon Society and its efforts to encourage others to introduce Sherlock Holmes to young people, check out Episode 183: The Beacon Society.