Reading Challenges

December 21, 2011

Happy Holiday Reading!

1913 edition
Last week a few exciting holiday treasures arrived in my mailbox. Among them, and the item I'm most excited about, was a 1913 edition of Christmas with Dickens. This find hails from Loe Books, an online book collector's shop in Cornwall.  Sure, it's not a first edition by any means--it's about fifty years too late for that, but the find was a bargain at €12 ($15), and older books have such character that this little pocket-sized edition (it measures around 7 inches in length) was impossible to pass up. It features a selection of Charles Dickens' holiday-themed stories with charming illustrations, hand-lettered text and a gorgeous embossed cover.

The artist whose illustrations grace the pages of Christmas with Dickens is none other than Chas Pears, a popular early 20th century painter who continued to work through the second World War. There's an excellent entry on his work and life at Bear Alley Books. Having read A Christmas Carol last December, I'm looking forward to revisiting Dickens' holiday universe this year with tales like A Christmas Dinner. I haven't read any of the five stories yet as I'm saving them for Christmas Eve.

In the meantime, I've been reading another new arrival on my shelves, Louisa May Alcott's Christmas Treasury. Having finished Little Women last week, I was excited to dive into this collection because it features  a selection of the author's writing for both adults and younger audiences. Since Alcott was such a versatile author, it's interesting to see what remains coherent in her writing (idealism, modesty--slightly preachy, but not obnoxiously so) and how her stories vary depending on the targeted readers.  Finishing the short story A Hospital Christmas, set during the Civil War, gave me a taste of Alcott's Hospital Sketches, a longer work inspired by her time serving as a war-time nurse. I'll definitely be adding Hospital Sketches to my TBR pile in 2012 and look forward to reading more of Alcott's adult fiction. In the meantime, I'll be hard at work finishing these Christmas tales and moving on to Dickens' holiday universe, all the while trying to finish my gingerbread house, wrap gifts and do other elf-worthy activities.

***Happy Holidays and Happy Reading to you all! ****


  1. I really want to read that Alcott collection! I'm reading Dickens' Christmas stories right now.

    Happy Holidays!!

    (PS - I see you are Marianne. So am I! There are so few of us. Most people are Elinor.) :-D

  2. Thanks so much, Jillian! How do you like Dickens' Christmas tales so far? I keep wondering how they can measure up to A Christmas Carol...and it's taking a lot of self-control not to sneak a peak at my new-to-me Dickens book, but I promised myself it would be a Christmas Eve treat. :)

    Yay for the fellowship of Mariannes! :) I think you're right, most people who have taken the quiz DO seem to be Elinors! hmmphhh.

  3. I love the Christmas stories. I liked "The Cricket on the Hearth" almost as much as "The Christmas Carol." "The Chimes" is also really good. :-)


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