January – Charles Dickens Month: My Favourites

7th February 2012 is the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. To mark the occasion Amanda at Fig and Thistle is hosting January – Charles Dickens Month. As Charles Dickens is one of my favourite authors, I couldn’t resist plunging into it.

Today’s post is about My Favourite books by Charles Dickens.








A Tale of Two Cities and The Pickwick Papers are two of my earliest Charles Dickens reads. And these two remain my all time favourites. A Tale of Two Cities I have read quite a few times. With each read I discover something new, a new layer of meaning that I had missed on my previous reads. The Pickwick Papers I have read only once. I laughed so hard at the funny parts and the more poignant parts moved me. But the length of The Pickwick Papers has prevented me from re-reading it. The thought of carrying it around is what daunts me the most. One of these days I will get back to it.

Great Expectations I have learned to love more with time. The first time I read it I liked it but didn’t understand all of it. But with re-reads I discovered how deep the book is. Pip’s journey took a new meaning for me; Miss Havisham became one of the most interesting characters and Estella one of the strangest literary heroines I have ever met on the pages of a book.

Hard Times is a much maligned book for no apparent reason. I liked it when I read it in 2010. It is very short and one of the most unusual works of Dickens. It does not have the humour of the rest of Dickens’s books but it is special in its own way.


I have also enjoyed some of Dickens’s more obscure works like Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings, Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy and A House To Let. These were first published in Christmas editions of Dickens’s All the Year Round and Household Words magazines. I loved the general light heartedness of Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings and Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy. A House To Let is a collaborative effort by Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter so it’s not a pure Charles Dickens creation but I enjoyed it nonetheless.



  1. Hi
    I see that you love The Pickwick Papers and yet are put off from re-reading it by its sheer length. I have always thought that the length of Pickwick helps to create a sense of travelling – which, after all, is one of the main themes of Pickwick – and if you can get to the end of the book, you feel that you have travelled too. But can I suggest a stimulus to re-reading Pickwick? It’s my own forthcoming novel, Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the story of the origin and subsequent history of The Pickwick Papers. In my view, The Pickwick Papers has the most fascinating backstory of any work of fiction. Anyway, my novel will be published in May by Random House (in the UK) and in June by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (in the USA). You can find out more at: http://www.deathandmrpickwick.com

    One thing, though – my novel parallels The Pickwick Papers in a number of ways, including in length. (I can almost hear you sigh…)

    Best wishes

    Stephen Jarvis

    1. A House To Let has good parts and also not so great parts. The narrative feels uneven as it’s written by four different authors but the overall atmosphere of the book is good. Hope you like it when you finally read it!

  2. I’m reading Our Mutual Friend at the moment and really enjoying it.

    I’m not a well read Dicken’s fan – I have loved Bleak House and Great Expectations too – but I hated Tale of Two Cities. It just felt so wooden compared to the other books of his I’d read.

    I live near Portsmouth, Dickens’ birthplace and the city is getting very excited about his 200th birthday -there’s a statue (much argued about) being put up and plenty of other events I’m sure.

    He only lived in Portsmouth for the first few months of his life, London is far more important to Dickens’ I’d have thought then Portsmouth ever was.

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