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message 1: by Smokinjbc (new)

Smokinjbc | 12 comments Hi all,

I am trying to work in a classic or two into my regular reading. I end up basing the one's I pick on PBS mini-series I enjoyed like "The Forsythe Saga" or "The Way We Live Now". I couldn't get into Dickens when I was younger but after seeing a recent biography, I wouldn't mind giving him another try. I was intrigued by the "Bleak House" mini-series, although I only got to see half of it- but it seems to be his heaviest work and maybe I should start with "David Copperfield" or "Great Expectations" instead?

Which Charles Dicken's book would you recommend to start with?

message 2: by Julie (last edited Aug 08, 2008 08:11AM) (new)

Julie I haven't read Bleak House yet, so I can't speak to that. Great Expectations is one of my favorite novels ever. I think it's wonderful. But I also just tend to like Victorian novels, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I think I would recommend GE or A Tale of Two Cities. The latter is shorter and I think it's his most accessible novel though not his best. I can't remember much humor in it and I think Dickens at his best is very funny.

Oh, how about just try "A Christmas Carol"? It's short, really wonderful, and you'll be able to find out if you like his style at all.

message 3: by Julie (new)

Julie Ooh, I found a neat resource for where to start with various authors:

There's no consensus on Dickens, but you can see people's reasoning behind what they suggest.

message 4: by Cassa (new)

Cassa | 38 comments I would actually recommend "Oliver Twist" as a starting point--I've always thought it was the most recognizable "Dickens" work other than "A Christmas Carol", myself (perhaps it was just me, but I never connected titles like "Great Expectations" and "A Tale of Two Cities" to the name Dickens until I actively picked up the book to read it). If it's not your first Dickens book but you like Dickens, I'd highly recommend it for later Dickens reading.

I haven't read "Bleak House," but a friend has, and the main comment I recall her making was "it's so long." I seem to remember her enjoying it despite that, but its length was her main comment.

I found David Copperfield virtually impossible to get into--maybe I was too young when I picked it up, but I remember returning it to the library after a few pages.

If you read A Christmas Carol, you have to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol. It's my favorite movie adaptation and I hope to make everyone watch it at least once in their lives.

If you like Dickens and are still looking for classics, you might try Alcott--I found "Little Women" to be similar to Dickens, though with less heavy description and more dialogue. I've also got something like 70+ books on my "classics" shelf if you wanted to go poking around for recommendations.

message 5: by bup (new)

bup "A Tale of Two Cities" has a little humor in it - involving grave-robbing.

And a great ending.

message 6: by Smokinjbc (new)

Smokinjbc | 12 comments Thanks for the great suggestions!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

So I'll be the lone voice to recommend Hard Times.

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie I LOVE the Muppet Christmas Carol. LOVE it.

"Light the lamp, not the rat!"

message 9: by Cassa (new)

Cassa | 38 comments "I know this story like the back of my hand."
"Prove it."
"Well, there's a mole just above the thumb..."

message 10: by Pam (new)

Pam | 87 comments Let me know if/when you decide to read Great Expectations and I'll read it with you. I could use an incentive.

That's the one with Pip and Ms. Havisham, isn't it? I love the movie version, the one from the 30's.

message 11: by Smokinjbc (new)

Smokinjbc | 12 comments I think I will start with Great Expectations, I will put it in my Paperspine queue, it may take a few weeks but will let you know :). I think it is the one with Ms. Havisham- I haven't seen the movie except the modern version with Ethan Hawke/Gwyneth Paltrow.

Thanks again!

message 12: by Julie (new)

Julie Yep, GE is the one with Pip and Miss Havisham (that spelling looks funny, but I'm too lazy to doublecheck).

message 13: by Dani (new)

Dani (kakwik) | 48 comments I used to read a new Dickens every year but have been lagging. I need to fix that...

Of the ones I've read so far, my three favorite Dickens are "David Copperfield", "Great Expectations", and "Oliver Twist". I reread these often.

I've also read "Bleak House" and it was a slog however I think I'll attempt it again one day. "Tale of Two Cities" defeated me the first time I tried it. I recently tried it again and it was ok. "The Pickwick Papers" was a slog and I have no urge to try it again. "Christmas Carol" is ok but really short.

YMMV. :)

message 14: by Dani (new)

Dani (kakwik) | 48 comments Oh hey, and if there's a plan for a group read of "Great Expectations", I'd be happy to join in.

message 15: by Ryl (new)

Ryl (rylf) | 29 comments I hated Great Expectations and David Copperfield, but I loved Tale of Two Cities. I need to read the earlier books (Nicholas Nickelby, Oliver Twist, that sort of thing.)

I saw a man give a reading as Dickens at the Dickens House Museum once. It was amazing. I can see how doing the "Sikes and Nancy story" one too many times killed him--that part is intense! He also made fun of Dora Copperfield which was totally worth it. (Dora ruined that book for me. Spineless little wench.)

Yes, the Muppet Christmas Carol is the definitive version. Fozziwig was excellent.

message 16: by Smokinjbc (new)

Smokinjbc | 12 comments Just an update- I just sent back my most recent book today and have Great Expectations on the top of my queue. Will take about 7-10 days to get and we can start a group read then? Or if everyone is anxious to start- I can just take my cheapskate self to the used book store and buy one :).

message 17: by Pam (new)

Pam | 87 comments 7-10 days would work for me. I'm in the middle of something else, and if I stop, I'll forget and have to start over again. I've already done it once with this book. :-)

message 18: by Dani (new)

Dani (kakwik) | 48 comments I'll join in. It won't be a big deal to add another book to my pile!

message 19: by Pam (new)

Pam | 87 comments Oops! I don't have Great Expectations after all. I have David Copperfield. Dang.

message 20: by Smokinjbc (new)

Smokinjbc | 12 comments My paperspine queue has a mind of it's own so haven't gotten it yet- could run to the bookstore tomorrow though- can do either Great Expectations or David Copperfield- I did like the miniseries for D.C.

message 21: by Smokinjbc (new)

Smokinjbc | 12 comments Well, I got the book from the libray, finally. Of course now I don't have a computer except for at work but if you all would like to start a group read, we can whenever you all are ready!

message 22: by Dani (new)

Dani (kakwik) | 48 comments I'm in. I just need to wrap up "Company of Liars" which should happen in the next day or so.

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