Monday, January 3, 2011

book review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The backstory: In the spirit of Christmas, I decided to read  A Christmas Carol, a story I know well, but one I had not ever read before.

The basics: We're all familiar with these, aren't we? Ebeneezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future? 

My thoughts: Two things really struck me as I devoured this gem of a book. First, I loved the way Dickens writes. Somehow, I'm never read Dickens, even though I'm familiar with many of his books. When Oprah announced her latest book club selections were Dickens, I was thrilled, because I find his writing so accessible, and I hope her viewers will too. Second,  everytime Scrooge spoke, I heard Michael Caine, which is a clear indication I have seen The Muppet Christmas Carol at least twenty times. I expected to be familiar with the story, but I was amazed how familiar with the dialogue I was. The Muppets were quite true to the original, and I love them a little bit more because of it.

It was also quite fascinating to read this book on my Kindle. As many of you know, Amazon indicates how many people have highlighted particular passages (if it annoys you, it's easy to turn off.) Typically when I read books, I have a mix of "why in the world would 359 people highlight that sentence?" and "why in the world did only 9 other brilliant people highlight this remarkable one?" It's always a remarkable insight into the way we read (yes, Kindle owners are a rather narrow and undiverse group, I would imagine). With A Christmas Carol, I found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with my fellow highlighters, and cheesy as it is, it brought out the Christmas spirit even more for me.

A favorite passage:

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour."
The verdict: I'm so glad I finally read A Christmas Carol, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I look forward to reading more Dickens in the future. I probably won't re-read it every year, but I will re-read it every few years. (Yes, I do watch The Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas, and I love it.)

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Length: 110 pages in print
Publication date: first published on December 17, 1843
Source: I read a free version on my Kindle.

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  1. I love Dickens and love this particular book as well. I didn't read it this year for Christmas, but I think it's going to have to go into rotation for next year! Great review!

  2. Ha! I love the muppet version too, hehe!!

    I actually read that for the first time this year too and I remember specifically liking that quote as well. Except for the fact; that Dickens did weird things with commas and semicolons and all that; I really enjoyed his writing too. I read Great Expectations in high school but don't remember a whole lot about it!


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