Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In Celebration of His 200th Birthday: A Year of Dickens

Charles Dickens, from Wikipedia
For Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday in 2009, I launched my Poe Fridays event, in which I read Poe almost every week for an entire year (read the wrap-up post). For Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, which is today, I can't imagine doing anything less. I probably won't read Dickens every week, because as much as I love him it would hurt my brain, but I will definitely use the coming year to celebrate him as much as possible.

Here is a tentative plan based on the books I own (links are to my previous reviews/mentions) --

A Tale of Two Cities
A Christmas Carol
Complete Ghost Stories (as collected by Wordsworth Classics)

First Time Reads
Oliver Twist
The Pickwick Papers
Nicholas Nickleby
Little Dorrit
The Old Curiosity Shop
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Those are eleven of the books I have in the house. I also have Bleak House but I'm not sure if I want to do a re-read of that Chancery chunkster (even though I really liked it) or if I should choose another book to read for the first time -- maybe The Pickwick Papers or Our Mutual Friend.

I also plan to read Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens: A Life during the year and I might even re-read some of my favorite modern Dickens fiction like The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl or Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard. And, as an extra special gift for today, I bought myself The Dickens Bicentennary by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley and I chose the picture book A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson and John Hendrix for Z. We're going to start our Year of Dickens today!

And, as can only be expected, I will likely watch some film and miniseries versions of my favorites -- like the 1999 David Copperfield with the cutest little Daniel Radcliffe you ever saw as David, the brilliant Maggie Smith as Betsey Trotwood, and Bob Hoskins as the perfect Micawber.

As is the case with most of my personal challenges, I would love to have you join me, even through just one Dickens novel this year, but I am not setting up anything official. I'm definitely open to group reads though if there's any interest. As I said, I will be slowly reading Tomalin's biography over the next few months. And, I've been thinking about which novel to start with for February and have decided on A Tale of Two Cities, mostly because it's sitting partially read on my nightstand right now. As this is one of his shorter and most popular books, it would be a good starting place for many of you Dickens novices. After all, "[i]t was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..."

Happy birthday, Mr. Dickens,


  1. ah I'll be putting up my review of Great Expectations later today which was my first ever Dickens! I have Oliver in the house so I think that will be next and also Hard Times appealled so I want to read that this year also. As you might have guessed I was very impressed with Great Expectations :)

  2. Well, I won't be joining you but I hope you have fun with it. Love that Google thing. I love when they do that!

  3. I was admiring the Google art yesterday and I love that you included in your post! I'm not sure if I will be joining you, but I must admit that I have been really wanting to read A Christmas Carol. Maybe I will play that one by ear! Oh, and love that pic of little Daniel Radcliffe! I almost didn't recognize him!!

  4. I'm going to be starting with A Tale of Two Cities, too, Kristen - though not for a couple of weeks - happy to join in with you if you do a group read. I really admire your stamina! I'm only reading three Dickens novels this year, and fairly well spaced out.

  5. Jessica - I'm glad that you're moving on to other Dickens. I guess that means that Great Expectations was a success!

    Jenners - Hmm. I'm going to get you to read something by Dickens during this year ...

    Tif - I was in love with it as soon as I saw it! And I will definitely convince you to join me for A Christmas Carol in December. :)

    Tracy - I always say that Dickens is one of my favorite authors so I'm determined to prove it this year! :) It's going to be exhausting but I hope I come out of it with an even larger appreciation of him.

  6. I just downloaded the audio of Oliver Twist but hope to read along so probably won't get to it for months. I really enjoy Dickens but he requires so much of my attention/energy when reading him.

  7. Trish - It's the same for me. I love his books but I can't read them in big chunks. It's more like a chapter or two a day. That's the only reason that I'm not sure I will be able to get through this many books, even in a year.