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Charles Dickens
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message 1: by Coalbanks (new)

Coalbanks | 30 comments Best picture of the times, warts & all, unlike other writers of the period who gave us a prettier picture and were perhaps more limited to their own class & circumstance.

message 2: by Denise (new)

Denise | 235 comments I haven't read that many authors from that time period, so I can't say how they compare. I know I liked David Copperfield. I read that one because it seemed important in John Irving's Cider House Rules. I actually thought there was something similar about their styles, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

message 3: by Sharla (new)

Sharla (sharlashangeling) | 2 comments Dicken's is great. Not just as part of the Literary Canon but you're right, he really showed the Grit of the times and the aspirations of different classes. Great Expectations is perhaps my fav.

-Sharla Shangeling Author of the Secret of the Sundance Caves

Join the Secret of the Sundance Caves Group on Goodreads today!

message 4: by Coalbanks (new)

Coalbanks | 30 comments Here is a link to the website for ErichHoffer & the erichofferawards. Some interesting books on the award winners list.

message 5: by Marts (new)

Marts  (Thinker) (thinkersutopia) | 28 comments Yes, I like the way Dickens bypassed the fancies of the day and shed some light on what was happening with the lower classes. What has always impressed me was the way his heroes always achieved their goals and overcame their situations.

message 6: by Denise (new)

Denise | 235 comments David Copperfield ****SPOILER ALERT****


I thought Dickens gave David a pretty easy way out by killing off his first wife so that he could marry his true love.

I did like the book a lot.

message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda Dickens is one of my all time favorite authors. I make it a point to read one Dickens novel each year; am in the middle of Bleak House right now. I like that he doesn't pull punches (doesn't worry about being "PC"!) and I enjoy his sense of humor, and I love many of his characters.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I really like Dickens. Just finished Great Expectations and loved it. Started A Tale of Two Cities for the second time. I read it years ago in Highschool. Now that I am older I am getting more out of it.

message 9: by pouya (new)

pouya | 2 comments I Belive That Charles Dickens is Greatman Specially For The Best Stories Like Oliver Toiiest

message 10: by H.J. (new)

H.J. Swinford (hayleejalyn) I love Dickens! I am almost finished with A Tale of Two Cities, which I surprisingly, though gladly, never read in high school or anything. I love the book, but know myself well enough to know I would have hated it back then. He is certainly amazing.

I just picked up a copy of a Dickens Biography at a used book store by Peter Ackroyd (who has some books on the 1001 list, btw) It is a bigger book than my hardcover Les Miserables, but it looks AMAZING and am really excited to read it soon. If anyone has read it, I'd like to know what you thought.

message 11: by Ph (new)

Ph | 12 comments I love Dickens, my only problem with him is that he was paid by the word and wrote serial novels. This causes a lot of his books to drag on into unnecessary directions. For example, Hard Times was good, but it was far longer than it needed to be. Same with Oliver Twist...and, while I haven't read A Tale of Two Cities in a while, I'm guessing that it's the same way.

That having been said, I truly do love his language, characterizations and plots.

message 12: by Kara (new)

Kara OK, i have never read any Dickens. I know, I know. :) I think my dad read A Christmas Carol to me years and years ago, but that's it. What book would you all recommend I start with?

message 13: by Pascal (last edited Aug 07, 2008 04:16AM) (new)

Pascal (pascalm) | 12 comments My first taste of Dickens was Great Expectations, and it's still my favorite of his. I think "later" Dickens is a lot easier to digest for a 21st century reader than younger Dickens - to me it seems as if he started to restrain himself a bit as he got older. A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, Hard Times... they're all class.
Beware, though: even older Dickens can get a bit word-heavy at times. Which is exactly why I'm taking a short break from David Copperfield, right now. :)

message 14: by H.J. (new)

H.J. Swinford (hayleejalyn) Kara, I would start with one of the "smaller" ones (like those really exist, right?) I read Great Expectations first, but I would probably recommend starting with Tale of Two Cities. I finished it in a week and a half and I think it is the least "wordy" of his novels.

Good luck with you beginnings! and welcome to the Dickens' family. lol

message 15: by Vicky (new)

Vicky | 45 comments If I were just starting out with Dickens, I would start with either "Great Expectations" or "David Copperfield". Enjoy!

message 16: by Rob (last edited Aug 07, 2008 11:01AM) (new)

Rob | 16 comments I agree Haylee!

My first choice would be Tale of Two Cities - not too long and I think one of the best novels ever written. Then Great Expectations. Also not too long. David Copperfield is also one of my favorite books of all time - but it is LONG (altho I found it absolutely enjoyable the entire way through - it never dragged for me the way some very long books do). I also read The Old Curiosity Shop which was also very good.

Dickens is wonderful - but I do agree being paid by the word has some drawbacks...

I'm ready for another dickens...but the length is so intimidating...I'm not sure which one I should do...

any suggestions? The 4 above are the only ones I've read.

message 17: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 682 comments Tale of two cities great book and not too long.
David Copperfield longer but a feel good ending.
Oliver Twist loved this book, great story and full of social commentary.
A Christmas Carol, one of the shorter books and the first one I read.
Hard Times again one of the shorter novels, and one of Dickens darker stories.
Great Expectations really enjoyed, and not too long.
Bleak House, one of the longer books and probably amongst my favourites.
KARA go with A Tale Of Two Cities, or Oliver if you want a longer read.
ROB if the size of the book is a factor, A Christmas Carol or Hard Times. If it's not Oliver or Bleak House.
I've still got a few Dickens books left on the list and some that aren't. Think it's time for a Dickens fix, and I've got some vacation coming up.

message 18: by Kevin (new)

Kevin I keep hearing about Dickens being paid by the word to write. My wife uses that as an excuse not to read him. But I've personally enjoyed everything that I have read by him. Tale of Two Cities was my favorite, but I also really enjoyed Bleak House and Little Dorrit. David Copperfield and Oliver Twist are also both very enjoyable reads.

message 19: by H.J. (new)

H.J. Swinford (hayleejalyn) Rob---

Depending, of course, on the time on which you want to spend in the next book you read, I would suggest going with Oliver Twist or one of the ones you know the story to pretty well. I find that, even with the "wordy-ness" and length, knowing ahead of time where the story and characters are going help to paddle through the thickness. My list is similar to yours and Oliver Twist is the next Dickens on my list.

Love the story--love the words. ^^ Love Dickens!!

message 20: by Karey (last edited Aug 17, 2008 02:06PM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 10 comments Ph: I loved Hard Times, but now that you mention it, it does drag on. It hadn't occurred to me that part of the reason was that, as you mentioned, he was paid by the word!

Hard Times is one of my favorites of Dickens.


message 21: by April (new)

April Same here, "Hard Times" is excellent, as is "A Christmas Carol." I was forced to read "A Tale of Two Cities" in high school so not sure how I feel about it until I reread it now as an adult.

message 22: by Kat (new)

Kat (katheriner1990) I was forced to read "A Christmas Carol" for school when I was 11 and didn't really enjoy it but I think this was mainly down to me being too young to fully appreciate it. Then I studied "Hard Times" for A level and found I liked it quite a bit (I even got full marks on the exam so I must've liked it more than I was willing to admit). However I never really got the brilliance of Dickens until I read "Bleak House". My teacher recommended it to me, saying it was his fave Dickens novel, and I absolutely loved it. It was brilliant! So many subplots and characters, yet the character development is not sacrificed because of this. It's long but it's really worth it.

message 23: by Tom (new)

Tom | 24 comments Dickens was not paid by the word. That is a hideous vicious slander/libel on one of the great artists in the English language, used by ignorant fools who wish to denigrate what they cannot understand.

message 24: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) Tom, he was paid by the story though right? I know he wrote serial stories for publication, but I thought they were just the basis for the full books he eventually wrote, not word for word chapters of full books. Again, I am not stating this as fact just what I seem to remember from biographies of Dickens. He was also Bipolar which I'm sure contributed to the darker parts of his books.


message 25: by Tom (last edited Aug 20, 2008 11:59AM) (new)

Tom | 24 comments AUGH!!!!

His novels were published in serial form. They were published in monthly and sometimes weekly installments, and then published complete, with occasional minor changes, in hard covers.

He was not paid by the word. He was not paid by the word. He was not paid by the word.

He was paid for what he wrote. And why not? Should writing be an entirely amateur occupation?

message 26: by Denise (new)

Denise | 235 comments Easy there, Tom. I'm a little worried you might be popping some blood vessels. Of course if you weren't so, mmm, emphatic? I might not have noticed the correction re: the rumor of CD being paid by the word.

Now you can rest assured there is at least one other person willing to make that correction should I hear that story again. I will say that I am positive I am right because I read it on the internet.

message 27: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 24 comments Why is it such a bad thing to consider that Dickens was paid by the word? Many freelance writers published in magazines today are paid by the word. That doesn't mean they aren't talented writers, and it doesn't mean they aren't subject to editing. Perhaps the complaint against Dickens should be that he lacked a good editor?

Furthermore, I don't think it serves the discussion to call people "ignorant fools" because they think Dickens is too wordy. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Just because someone doesn't like your favorite author/book does not make that person an idiot.

message 28: by Kara (new)

Kara Dickens was Bipolar? Interesting!! I decided to start with Great Expectations...I don't really remember why. Anyway, it's coming in the mail from Yay for free books! Anyway, I will let everyone know my impressions, and hopefully we can get a discussion started.

message 29: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) Right on, Melissa!

Kara, my son was diagnosed with early on-set Bipolar and it makes him feel better to know he is in good company with the likes of Dickens, Abe Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, etc.

My brother had it as well but wasn't diagnosed until 35 years old (he was hospitalized on and off as a child for "an eating disorder" but that was just because it was his most prominent co-morbid disorder. My son's is anxiety, but ultimately it's about "control" for both.

I get really pissed off these days because the way it's being over-diagnosed (and mis-diagnosed) it become a school-yard taunt (i.e. "Your so gay...such a geek, nerd..." and now "What are you Bipolar (read 'crazy') or something?"

People can be cruel, especially children. I expect better from adults.


message 30: by Tom (last edited Aug 21, 2008 12:51PM) (new)

Tom | 24 comments If they'd said he was too wordy, that would be one thing, a matter of opinion. They chose to hide behind a vulgar and stupid lie as a defense for not liking Dickens.

I'd say that using a LIE to back up an opinion, using something that simply isn't true to back up your dislike of the one of the great artists of the world isn't exactly the act of an intelligent and well-read person.

message 31: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Wow, Tom! You are feisty!

message 32: by Tom (new)

Tom | 24 comments I get that way. Too much caffeine.

message 33: by Denise (new)

Denise | 235 comments Tom,

I had to go back and look at earlier posts to try and find where anyone referring to the paid-by-the-word rumor said that they disliked Dickens. I might have missed it, but the couple I looked at mentioned how much they liked him, even though they found him wordy.

I don't think anyone's hiding behind anything. At most, we are guilty of not checking our sources. Which I'm still not doing. I'm just going to assume you're right on this one.

message 34: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Dickens has been dead for well over 100 years now. I really don't think royalty checks are an issue anymore. lol :-)

message 35: by Tom (new)

Tom | 24 comments Yeah, I might be mixing up this thread with another one where someone made the same silly comment about being paid by the word in a more negative context. I'll go away now.

message 36: by Denise (new)

Denise | 235 comments Wait, Tom, Come back! Your insults are entertaining. In fact, I was just now racking my brain trying to think of Dickens rumor I could start, but I'm coming up empty.

Charity, your point is well taken, but perhaps because he is dead, Dickens needs someone live to defend his honor. Drat. I think I have gone and revealed my true trouble-making self.

message 37: by Charity (last edited Aug 21, 2008 02:08PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) Defend away! :-)

I think the point to make is that, with as eloquently as Dickens selected the words, perhaps he should have been paid by the word.

I love trouble makers.

message 38: by Kara (new)

Kara Hi Melissa,

I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was about 25. I am 38 now.

adults are some of the worst when it comes to stereotyping people with bipolar or any other mental diagnosis. If you have ever read online personal ads, you will know that they are full of comments like, "no crazies," "no meds," "no bipolars," etc. It makes me so angry, and I sometimes want to reply to those ads. But I know that would just give people more ammunition.

Anyway, learning that Dickens was bipolar makes me want to read him even more. :)

message 39: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) Kara, you're right some of the worst prejudice about bipolar (or any disorder!) comes from adults and from ignorance. I really feel for you that you weren't diagnosed until an adult!

My son carries about 30 extra pounds because of Lithium, but even he knows he'd rather be fat than have it like it was pre-medication and all he wanted to do was die. It's frightening to have your 8 year-old say he wishes he were dead (to say the least).

I believe as long as you are knowledgable about what you're taking, medication saves a lot of lives.


message 40: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (glinda) | 30 comments I was diagnosed when I was about 26. I'm 45 now. I've decided that if people think I'm crazy, they think I'm crazy - so what? Who's normal anyway? There are lots of wonderful intelligent crazy people out there. We're in good company.

message 41: by Jennifer Hrabota (new)

Jennifer Hrabota | 1 comments So I am reading Oliver Twist for the first time, pre-reading it with the intention of reading it to my kids. I was familiar with the general story from when I was a child, but didn't really remember that much of it. Now, picking it up as an adult, I am finding it to be very funny and really enjoyable in some ways, but shockingly racist. It is disappointingly coloring my enjoyment of the book. I can read this in the context of the time and place it is written to try and understand, but I have to wonder when it is appropriate to introduce something like this to children. I am wondering how other people (teachers, parents) introduce classics to children that may have questionable viewpoints about race religion or gender. I am not a fan of censorship, and though I could retell the story to them with modifications, it just doesn't seem right to me.

message 42: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments Alright Tom et al. Here's a Dickens rumor I've heard. Since it was serialized, and he tended to have cliffhanger endings to his chapters, people would be so excited about the arrival of the boat bearing the next installment, that they would actually throw themselves off the end of the pier in excitement. Many DROWNED! Or perhaps the crowd ended up pushing people in as a result of their fervor. Either way, HILARIOUS! Makes the Harry Potter crowd seem TAME!

As for the bipolar and prejudice discussion. I know many who are bipolar. Both diagnosed and undiagnosed. For the most part, aside from the side-effects, the diagnosed bipolar sufferers seem better off. They are being pro-active about their lives and their particular issue. Those non-diagnosed are WAY worse off.

As for the people who have no tolerance for people with any kind of mental disorder, they are just scared and small-minded. These are the people who refuse to get counselling when they NEED it because they think it's weak. So stupid! Most of the time, people being stupid and mean about mental disorders just haven't been diagnosed yet! We all have issues, and we could probably all do well with some therapy.

I agree also with those pointing out the amazingly intelligent and creative people who did or do have mental disorders. Life would be pretty dull without their input!

Also, I think it wasn't Lincoln who was bipolar. It was his wife. I know she had a mental disorder of some kind, more to the depressive side, but she did exhibit signs of mania and paranoia. I could be wrong about whether Lincoln himself was bipolar though too. I feel like I remember reading about his periods of depression.

message 43: by Linda (new)

Linda Anyway, back to the Dickens discussion...
Along with Austen, he is my favorite author. I am on a personal mission to read all of his novels (one per year), and at this point, A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite simply because I enjoy the suspenseful plot. Just finishing up Bleak House this week. He takes some patience to read, but once you get used to his use of language, lengthy descriptions and humorous sarcasm, it is worth the effort. Not having had time to read many more than once yet (only TTC & GE), I would bet they are even more enjoyable the second time around.

message 44: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Storm (melstorm) Hi everyone. I run a 300+ member book club in Ann Arbor that is based off the list of 1001.

I also have the crazy goal of reviewing every single book on the list for my literary blog,

I've only read three of Dickens novels so far (and he's on the list, what, 10 times?). But I must say, I sometimes struggle through the exposition, but when I reach the ending! There's such an unforgettable, thematic power to Dickens's works. This is especially true of "Tale of Two Cities."

I've provided reviews of "A Tale of Two Cities" and a "Christmas Carol" for my blog. Each review includes a plot preview and a list of reasons why readers may either like or dislike the book.

I hope you'll take a look!


Christmas Carol:

Two Cities:

message 45: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 11 comments Denise wrote: "I haven't read that many authors from that time period, so I can't say how they compare. I know I liked David Copperfield. I read that one because it seemed important in John Irving's Cider House..."

Actually, John Irving enjoys the reputation of being a modern Dickens. His characters are as grotesque or bigger-than-life as Dickens' ones

message 46: by (Alice) Aley (new)

(Alice) Aley Martin (aleymartin) | 6 comments I took a class in Dickens back in 1998. I had to read 6 of his novels in 6 weeks. I loved Bleak House and David Copperfield, and a Tale of Two Cities BUT I felt his VERY best work was "Dombey and Son" I would not have read Dickens if I had not taken this class and was not in my forties at the time. I believe some works are meant for us to find later in life. Dickens was a strange man. He wrote in the middle of his living room amidst all the hoopla of the family action and when he left his wife for an actress they literally split the house in half and lived there with a border that kept her and the kids over "there" and he was "on the other side". He was not too nice to his wife who stood beside him. Typical of the times.

message 47: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 24 comments Dickens fans may be interested to join in the 'Dickens Project', which has just got underway in a group called the Readers Review. The aim is to read all of Dickens' books in the order in which they were written. So that people can fit it in alongside their other reading, the project will be spread over many months, possibly years, at the slow but steady pace of a chapter or two per week. It is not too late to join in. Find out more at

message 48: by Lisa (new)

Lisa James (sthwnd) | 352 comments I have always enjoyed Dickens, maybe because I'm in my 40's, & I've never been overly concerned about being PC myself,LOL, I always loved his writing style. He said exactly what he wanted to say, & back then, they didn't have to worry about watching what they said so it wouldn't offend someone. Great Expectations is my hand down favorite, but Tale of Two Cities is my second. I know I've read others, I just can't remember them anymore, so I'm going to have to go back & re-read several of them!

message 49: by Miranda (new)

Miranda (magicandmystery11) | 6 comments Just finished Great Expectations while I was in London. It was great to read it in the city it was set in. I even got to go to a pub that was a favorite of Dickens Ye Olde Cock Tavern in the old City of London. A very cool experience for sure. I have also read Bleak House which I enjoyed even more than this novel. I look forward to reading more of his stuff, although from what I read in commentaries the remainder of his books focus on Dickens idolization of the middle class whereas the two I have read are his rejecting of it and returning to a love of his poor roots.

message 50: by Will (new)

Will Todd I was glad to see "OLIVER TWIST" on the list.

The very first Dickens novel I ever read was "OLIVER TWIST"...

...and in many ways, it's still my favorite.

I've read most of his other books now, but "TWIST" was the perfect combination of social conscience AND entertainment. For me, he began to favor the former at the expense of the latter in some of his later books...

...which is why I would replace "BLEAK HOUSE" on the list with something lighter and more universally beloved... "A CHRISTMAS CAROL".

Short, yes.

But definitely not bleak!


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