About this site

The challenge I set for myself: Read the complete works of Charles Dickens in one year, beginning on my birthday (August 17).

The reason: To remedy the fact that I am in my mid-thirties, bearing an English degree and a sound mind, and had never read anything by the aforementioned Mr. Dickens. This was embarrassing.

The other reason: I purchased a lovely, thirty-six volume set of the works of Charles Dickens at a book auction and I wished to do it justice.

The other, other reason: To try my hand at a blog. πŸ™‚

The result: I did it! Mostly! One year and eight days later, all of Dickens’ published work is now happily residing in my brain. But I can’t abandon my newfound friend, so this blog will continue to exist while there are still interesting Dickensian things to relate.

Comments: Very welcome! What’s your favorite Dickens work?

The list (roughly chronological):

Sketches By Boz – Vol. IΒ Β  (finished Sept. 3, 2012)

Sketches By Boz – Vol. II (finished Sept. 10, 2012)

The Pickwick Papers – Vol. I (finished Oct. 9, 2012)

The Pickwick Papers – Vol. II (finished Oct. 20, 2012)

Oliver Twist (finished Aug. 26, 2012)

Nicholas Nickleby – Vol. I (finished Sept. 18, 2012)

Nicholas Nickleby – Vol. II (finished Sept. 30, 2012)

The Old Curiosity Shop – Vol. I (finished Oct. 29, 2012)

The Old Curiosity Shop – Vol. II (finished Nov. 3, 2012)

Barnaby Rudge – Vol. I (finished Nov. 22, 2012)

Barnaby Rudge – Vol. II (finished Dec. 1, 2012)

American Notes / Pictures from Italy (finished Feb. 9, 2013)

Martin Chuzzlewit – Vol. I (finished Jan. 13, 2013)

Martin Chuzzlewit – Vol. II (finished Jan. 22, 2013)

Christmas Books (finished Dec. 16, 2012)

Christmas Stories – Vol. I (finished Dec. 25, 2012)

Christmas Stories – Vol. II (finished Jan. 2, 2013)

Dombey & Son – Vol. I (finished Feb. 20, 2013)

Dombey & Son – Vol. II (finished Mar. 3, 2013)

David Copperfield – Vol. I (finished Mar. 9, 2013)

David Copperfield – Vol. II (finished Mar. 18, 2013)

A Child’s History of England (finished Apr. 1, 2013)

Bleak House – Vol I (finished Apr. 13, 2013)

Bleak House – Vol. II (finished Apr. 25, 2013)

Hard Times (finished May 8, 2013)

Reprinted Pieces (finished May 17, 2013)

Little Dorrit – Vol. I (finished May 28,2013)

Little Dorrit – Vol. II (finished Jun. 8, 2013)

A Tale of Two Cities (finished Jun. 16, 2013)

Great Expectations (finished Jul. 9, 2013)

The Uncommercial Traveller (finished Aug. 15)

Our Mutual Friend – Vol. I (finished Jul. 29, 2013)

Our Mutual Friend – Vol. II (finished Aug. 6, 2013)

Miscellaneous Papers – Vol. I (finished Jun. 28, 2013)

Miscellaneous Papers – Vol. II (finished Jul. 20, 2013)

Edwin Drood / Master Humphrey’s Clock (finished Aug. 25, 2013)



14 comments on “About this site

  1. Mum says:

    In spite of difficulties with my computer this morning, I have enjoyed catching up with you blog, dear daughter.

  2. sandy gardner says:

    I’m a big Dickens fan. Would love to get your posts via email. And/or on face book.
    Sandy Gardner
    face book: sandywritesbooks@gmail.com

  3. Cecilia says:

    I have found this page by chance and I am very happy… I like the way you have met Dickens. I read him since I was 10 and am always re reading him. I like your blog very much

  4. I’m just finishing Peter Ackroyd’s biography of your pal, Charlie…..quite morbid, with constant references to “his last Christmas”, “his last summer”, etc…i feel i will be losing someone i have come to know very well…he’s now writing: The Mystery of Edwin Drood….sounds fascinating…

    My favourite Dickens is toss-up between David Copperfield and Tale of Two Cities, but when I was young, Pickwick Papers sure made me laugh….


    • melissa says:

      I love Bleak House and Pickwick (for totally different reasons), and Barnaby Rudge because I would argue it does a better job conveying the history than TOTC, plus I like rooting for the underdog. πŸ˜‰ But they all have their selling features.

  5. I am quite impressed! I would never have expected that all of Dickens could be read in a year. Honestly I wasn’t sure all of Dickens could be read in a lifetime — and I have a PhD in Victorian literature! I actually wrote briefly about death-by-reading-Dickens toward the end of this blog post: http://bibliocurio.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/benefits-1-i-don’t-have-to-read-everything/. I really enjoy your blog!

    • melissa says:

      What a great post! I absolutely agree that leaving academia frees you to read things *for fun* , like Dickens, that would otherwise have been painful. I don’t think I would have got nearly as far, though, if I hadn’t made it a personal challenge, or started the blog – nothing keeps you motivated like the fear of failure in front of strangers! πŸ˜‰

  6. A Mutual Dickensian Friend sent me the link to your blog: love it. Interestingly, there’s a reporter for one of the larger UK dailies that was assigned to read the complete works in a year as part of the bicentennial bash. I think he made it but of course he was being paid to do so. Congratulations on completing the canon. I’m curious though how an English major managed to miss Dickens:were you studying the Moderns only? I’m a longtime Dickens performer, “Carol” and “The Death of Nancy”, and admit with a blush to not having read anything like all of his works although I have read the “Complete Edwin Drood” allegedly dictated by Dickens through a medium. SPoiler Alert: it’s AWFUL!

    • melissa says:

      Thanks for the kind words! Honestly, I have no idea how I made it through a degree without Dickens – I did take SF, detective fiction, Canadian lit, some Chaucer, lots of Austen and I know I did Gulliver’s Travels at least twice. Still, I’m surprised alarms didn’t sound when they handed me the degree!

      I had no idea there was a “complete” Drood! Considering how skeptical Dickens was of spiritualists in general, I suspect that even if a medium HAD been able to contact him from beyond the grave, he would have been too stubborn to respond, much less dictate half a novel! πŸ˜‰ So who killed Edwin in that version?

      • Curiously, there are 2, yes 2, “spirit pen” versions of Drood, one British,one American:(no Can-con for our boy). I can not recall who killed Edwin in my version, the U.S. one. I do recall that the Medium’s Preface mentions an all new Dickens novel in the pipe – though the title escapes me. It’s been 20 years since I read it and it really is a turgid (elide the “gi”)slog.

        I did appreciate your blog on personal libraries; my own is…large and eclectic and while,like you, I cannot bear to part with any of its members there is no question:it makes moving difficult and expensive; like owning a concert harp or grand piano. But wandering through my shelves, looking at the spines, pulling down and re-reading a loved passage or sprawling surrounded with a garden of open volumes, riffling through them while researching a new talk, article, or script, or simply “because”, is a tactile and cerebral romp that the e-book and the internet, wonderful as they are, can’t duplicate.

  7. Jo says:

    I just discovered your blog and am enjoying immensely! It is quite funny! I think “Charlie” would have liked it! I’ve read most of Dickens’ books. I think my favorites are Martin Chuzzlewit, The Pickwick Papers, and “The Old Curiosity Shop”. I really do like them all. “Sketches by Boz” is very funny and of course “A Christmas Carol” is another great book. I wish he’d written more!

  8. I just stumbled upon your site while researching for my next Bryant & May novel. Thank you so much for enumerating the deaths in Dickens! Like all great blogs this is a wonderful and slightly mad endeavour – as someone who walks past the Dickens house in Doughty Street most days, you have deepened the colours in the way I see his fiction.

    • melissa says:

      Thank for your comments! I’m deeply envious that you get to walk past Dickens’ house so often! πŸ™‚ I need to take some time to tour your own very interesting-looking site!

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