#SHReads18 – In Which Order to Read Sherlock Holmes Stories?

When I started thinking of writing this post, I didn’t even suspect that there might be different ways of reading Sherlock Holmes stories. Naturally, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was rather prolific, in spite of his developed frustration with the character that brought him fame, but it never occured to me that somebody could read the stores not in the publicated order – because it was the way I read them as a child.

I don’t remember how I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes stories. They seem, just like The Three Musketeers (although with that book I do remember the first time I read it), to always have been in my life. I think that it might have been my grandfather who introduced me to Sherlock Holmes. Or perhaps, I watched the tv show first. I honestly can not recall.

However, I do remember always reading the stories by starting with A Study in Scarlet.

Here is the list of all stories in chronological order by the publication date (taken from Baker Street Wiki):

  • 1887: A Study in Scarlet
  • 1890: The Sign of the Four
  • July 1891 to December 1892: Stories that would make up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes published in The Strand magazine
  • December 1892 to November 1893: Stories that would make up The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes published in The Strand
  • 1901-2 (serial): The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • October 1903 to January 1905: Stories that would make up The Return of Sherlock Holmes published in The Strand
  • 1908–1913, 1917: Stories that would make up His Last Bow (short stories) published.
  • 1914-15: The Valley of Fear
  • 1921–1927: Stories that would become The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes published.

After looking into some forums and discussions and thinking about it, I was surprised to see that many people suggest skipping A Study in Scarlet, as it is the first story written by Doyle and therefore not as polished and a bit too long, and just dive into The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and then The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Well, personally, I would not skip A Study in Scarlet, no matter how boring it is, as it introduces the main characters to us and just like the first episode of many Sherlock Holmes adaptations – you don’t want to miss that.

So, in honour of January being a Sherlock Holmes reading month and the read-a-long #SHReads18, I decided to introduce you to my favourite reading order of all Sherlock Holmes stories. I am participating in this January event, however, I have a bigger goal in mind. One of my reading challenges for 2018 is to re-read all of Sherlock Holmes stories and for that I am listening to them as audiobooks – the complete collection of stories read by Stephen Fry (one of my most favourite narrators)! The complete collection is an exclusive production by Audible and was released last year.

As I am writing this, I have already listened to A Study in Scarlet and started on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Follow me on GoodReads, if you want to follow me on my epic re-read 🙂

There is no right or wrong way to read the stories – besides Doyle himself sometimes messed up facts and dates. However, The Final Problem and The Empty House have to be read together as they are tied in plot. Save The Hound of the Baskervilles for the last, as it is pretty good.

Here is my reading order, in which I will be doing this:

I. A Study in Scarlet (novel, 1887)
II. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Red-headed League, 1891
  • A Case of Identity, 1891
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1891
  • The Five Orange Pips, 1891
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891
  • The Blue Carbuncle, 1892
  • The Speckled Band, 1892
  • The Engineer’s Thumb, 1892
  • The Noble Bachelor, 1892
  • The Beryl Coronet, 1892
  • The Copper Beeches, 1892
  • A Scandal in Bohemia, 1891 (I plan to read this story the last in the book)
III. The Sign of the Four (novel, 1890)

IV. The Valley of Fear (novel, 1914-15)

(or read this novel between the stories from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, but before The Final Problem)

V. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • Silver Blaze, 1892
  • The Yellow Face, 1893
  • The Stock-broker’s Clerk, 1893
  • The ‘Gloria Scott’, 1893
  • The Musgrave Ritual, 1893
  • The Reigate Squires, 1893
  • The Crooked Man, 1893
  • The Resident Patient, 1893
  • The Greek Interpreter, 1893
  • The Naval Treaty, 1893
  • The Final Problem, 1893
VI. The Return of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Empty House, 1903
  • The Norwood Builder, 1903
  • The Dancing Men, 1903
  • The Solitary Cyclist, 1903
  • The Priory School, 1904
  • Black Peter, 1904
  • Charles Augustus Milverton, 1904
  • The Six Napoleons, 1904
  • The Three Students, 1904
  • The Golden Pince-Nez, 1904
  • The Missing Three-Quarter, 1904
  • The Abbey Grange, 1904
  • The Second Stain, 1904
VII. The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel, 1901-02)
VIII. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Illustrious Client, 1924
  • The Blanched Soldier, 1926
  • The Mazarin Stone, 1921
  • The Three Gables, 1926
  • The Sussex Vampire, 1924
  • The Three Garridebs, 1924
  • Thor Bridge, 1922
  • The Creeping Man, 1923
  • The Lion’s Mane, 1926
  • The Veiled Lodger, 1927
  • Shoscombe Old Place, 1927
  • The Retired Colourman, 1926
 IX. His Last Bow
  • Wisteria Lodge, 1908
  • The Cardboard Box, 1893
  • The Red Circle, 1911
  • The Bruce-Partington Plans, 1908
  • The Dying Detective, 1913
  • Lady Frances Carfax, 1911
  • The Devil’s Foot, 1910
  • His Last Bow, 1917

It is not, by any means, a strict reading order. I might mix things as I go, but if you are new to Sherlock Holmes stories or haven’t had a chance to read them all – I hope you find my little guide handy.

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