Where to start with Charles Dickens ?
Tale of Two Cities – have read many Dickens and that is the only one I actually liked!
I am reading Little Dorrit right now and am enjoying it, but I also find Dickens to be an acquired taste.
That was my set text high school – couldn’t get past chapter 1. Still haven’t read it!!!
@Nicola ~ I understand. It has been on my TBR list for decades and so I have finally decided to tackle it. After reading so many other Dickens’ novels over the years, this one seems easy
@Peter maybe I should revisit it ?? in case you were wondering I did NOT answer any questions on it in my final exams ?
I find people’s opinions vary so much with Dickens I’d say just go with what takes your fancy. Although as someone who had trouble getting into Dickens I’d say a Christmas carol ?
Oliver Twist is not a complicated book and still a great book.
Yeah, I found this one helpful to read first.
Oliver Twist is a great place to start. More plot than most of the movie adaptations, but not as complex as his later novels.
I started with David Copperfield
So did I
I began with reading ‘The Signalman’. Remembered a Television Movie of it from the 80’s. I then went into A Tale of Two Cities
Short stories. There are five Christmas themed ones in one book. A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, oops, memory fails. They are all good. If you’re on Kindle Amazon has the complete Dickens for free. I started with A Christmas Carol and haven’t stopped.
I love Dickens. I can’t tell you what to start with, I’d recommend Hard Times as a starter and a Christmas carol too?
I would suggest A Christmas Carol.
A tale of two cities
A Tale of Two Cities.
A Tale of Two Cities is my absolute favorite of his!
Bleak House is a good one too after you become seasoned to the style of Dickens. Loved Copperfield, that was my first one.
I like David copperfield the best
Sorry, Christmas Carol is short and sweet. Then a Tale of Two Cities.
I think Bleak House is best, but if you know you’re interested in his work and have never read any of it, you have a rare opportunity in that you can read them in the order they were written and experience his development as a writer. That’d mean starting with Pickwick Papers.
@Don Christmas Carol is beautifully written and the messages are very powerful.
@Don Great idea! I think I’ll do this. I have read many but not all and this seems a great way to get to know Dickens better.
I liked the Christmas Carol.
I read A Tale of Two Cities in JH and it has been a longtime favorite. It’s a shame Dickens wrote only two historical novels. Friends who have read most or all of his books like Bleak House the best — it’s on my TBR shelf.
I am between A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist and Bleak House.
@Charles ~ there are many great recommendations above, and I won’t presume to tell which is best but I will give you two tips: (1) if you are reading hard copy (or Kindle) versions, always get the ABRIDGED editions bc Victorian novels were published in several “books” that have much repetition to remind readers of how the previous book ended; you won’t need any of that. (2) If you are using Audible, it offers nearly the entire Dickens canon in long/full reads but at a price of less than $1. They are categorized as “Classics — World Literature.” Have a blast!
I would beg to differ on the abridgement advice. Many Victorian novels were written in serialised form as you say, but I don’t find them unduly repetitive, and I usually refuse to read abridgements on principle, because I hate to miss anything an author originally wrote. That would be the case even with mild abridgements, but a lot of them are pretty drastic.
Interesting comments, here is my 2 cents worth, I love Dickens’ novels and I especially loved Pip In Great Expectations. He was a good man. The Bantam Classic version of this book had two endings, so beware for all of those readers who like to read the endings of books first. Also this version has a wonderful introduction by John Irving which I did not read until after I finished the book as they do talk about the fact that Dickens wrote 2 endings. I started to read it, then I stopped and started reading the actual book first. Not sure if that counts as repetitive…
Dickens is my favorite author. He is savory. I don’t rush Dickens and I am patient. His characters unfold like magic. I would say start with Oliver Twist or A Christmas Carol. They are must reads!
@Carol I came on to suggest the same two. Start with a story that is a bit familiar, and it won’t seem so daunting
Great Expectations ❤️
A tale of two citiess
Great Expectations…the start_middle_end for me
Great Expectations or David Copperfield
My first was Oliver Twist, then A Christmas Carol. I thought I’d start with something easy.
Some Dickens can get quite dark, it depends on whether you’re ready for that or not. My first experience of Dickens was reading Oliver Twist when I was about 12 and the brutality of it (Bill Sikes, what a bastard!) nearly put me off for life. Then I read Pickwick and was saved. It has been my favourite ever since, followed closely by Our Mutual Friend and Nicholas Nickleby.
tale of 2 cities
Christmas Carol is short and relatively light.
Haha… you do realise that EVERY single Dickens novel will get nominated here as a ‘starter’, and you’ll remain undecided!!! LOL. To add to the confusion, I’ll vote for Bleak House <3
My first was A Tale of Two Cities.
My first was Oliver Twist.
I haven’t read that one yet, but I’m hoping to get to it and Great Expectations this year.
And David Copperfield
@Holly As I said above Bleak House was my favorite, but if I had the chance to start from scratch, I’d likely try to read them in order. That’d mean starting with Pickwick Papers (unless someone wanted to be a real completist and start with Sketches from Boz).
That’s good. I just recently got a copy of Pickwick Papers. Starting in order is a neat idea.
@Holly I didn’t read Pickwick until later, but I loved it. It’s clearly a transitional book (very episodic in the beginning like the Sketches from Boz but more linked together and really only cohering into a traditional novel partway through–but SO much good stuff in it).
@Don, good to know!
I would start with the Pickwick papers, then Nicholas Nickleby, then the rest. As others have stated the rest can get pretty dark but they are all wonderful.
The great expectations
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