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Where To Start Reading

6 Must-Read Charles Dickens Books: Where To Start

We recommend starting with one of these six great books.

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

The 6 Must-Read Books by Charles Dickens - Where to Start Reading

Charles Dickens is a prominent figure of the Victorian Era and is one of the most celebrated authors of all time.  He has crafted stories that have stood the test of time, captivating readers for generations with their insightful social commentary and vivid characters.  So whether you are a novice reader or an ardent literature enthusiast, knowing where to begin with Dickens’ extensive works can be daunting.  But if you’re interested in reading his work, but don’t know where to start, don’t worry!  This guide will help you select Charles Dickens’ best books and start your literary journey.

But first, let’s talk about Charles Dickens

Who is Charles Dickens?

Charles Dickens was a Victorian-era novelist born in England in 1812.  He wrote over 15 novels, as well as many short stories and other works.  Charles Dickens is best known for his vivid characters and storylines that still captivate readers today.

For more about Charles Dickens and his family, including his wife and children, along with more of his books, read my “Reading & Discovering Charles Dickens” article.

About Charles Dickens Books

What was Charles Dickens first successful book?

Charles Dickens’ first successful book was “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club,” also known as “The Pickwick Papers,” (Amazon or Bookshop) published in 1836.  Originally issued in monthly installments, this novel was a huge success and marked the beginning of Dickens’ illustrious literary career.

What is Charles Dickens most famous book?

Charles Dickens’ most famous book is arguably “A Tale of Two Cities” (Amazon or Bookshop.)  Published in 1859, this historical novel set against the backdrop of the French Revolution has sold over 200 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books ever.  The opening lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” have become iconic, further cementing its status in literary history.

What is the most read Charles Dickens book?

The most-read book by Charles Dickens is “A Christmas Carol” (Amazon or Bookshop.)  This novella, published in 1843, has become a classic holiday tale familiar to many, even those who have not delved deeply into Dickens’ broader work.  The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation from an embittered miser to a man who understands the true spirit of Christmas continues to touch hearts, making “A Christmas Carol” a perennial favorite across generations.

What is considered Dickens best book?

While it’s subjective and opinions vary, many literary scholars and avid readers consider “Great Expectations” (Amazon or Bookshop) to be Dickens’ best book.  Published in 1861, this coming-of-age novel weaves the tale of an orphan named Pip and his growth and personal development against a backdrop of social critique.  The novel’s richly drawn characters, intricate plot, and exploration of themes like wealth, poverty, love, and rejection have earned it an enduring place in the pantheon of great literature.  It’s an excellent starting point for anyone new to Charles Dickens’ work.

Which Dickens novel should beginners read first?

For beginners embarking on their Charles Dickens reading journey, “Oliver Twist” (Amazon OR Bookshop) is often recommended as the first book to read and I personally agree as well.  Published in 1838, this novel offers a powerful portrayal of childhood innocence in the face of societal corruption and abuse.  The story of Oliver Twist, a poor orphan navigating the brutal realities of the London underbelly, is both gripping and accessible.  With its relatively shorter length compared to other Dickens novels, and its engaging narrative and memorable characters like the Artful Dodger and Fagin, it serves as a fitting introduction to Dickens’ style and themes.

6 Must-Read Charles Dickens Books

For readers looking to explore books by Charles Dickens, here is a list of six must-read books:

  1. Oliver Twist
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. Great Expectations
  4. David Copperfield
  5. The Pickwick Papers
  6. A Tale of Two Cities
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

One of Charles Dickens’s most famous novels is “Oliver Twist.”  The story follows Oliver, a young orphan navigating life in London and forced to work in miserable conditions.  Yet, despite the hardships he faces, Oliver remains optimistic.  Ultimately “Oliver Twist” is a dark and gritty novel that provides a glimpse into the lives of the poor and downtrodden in Victorian England.  This novel is an excellent choice for readers who want to experience Dickens’ writing style and get a taste of his social commentary.

Buy from Amazon OR Bookshop

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Another wildly popular book by Dickens is “A Christmas Carol.”  In this novel, the reader is introduced to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy but miserly man who hates Christmas.  Three ghosts visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve and show him the error of his ways.  This novel is a heartwarming story that has been adapted into many different forms over the years, but there’s nothing quite like reading the original.  If you’re looking for a heartwarming read this winter, “A Christmas Carol” is a perfect choice.

Buy from Amazon or Bookshop

Also, check out: The Timeless Lessons in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

If you’re looking for more classic or short Christmas stories to read, check out my “Classic Christmas Stories that Will Leave You Feeling Festive“article.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

“Great Expectations” is one of Charles Dickens’s most well-known novels.  The story follows Pip, a young boy from a humble background who suddenly finds himself with a large fortune.  Pip leaves his home and family behind with his new wealth to pursue a luxury life in London.  However, he soon discovers that money cannot buy happiness.  “Great Expectations” is an excellent choice for readers looking for an engaging and thought-provoking coming-of-age story that explores class and social mobility themes.

Buy from Amazon or Bookshop

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

If you’re looking for a more personal story, “David Copperfield” is a great choice.  The novel is based on Dickens’ own life experiences, and it’s his most autobiographical work.  The story follows David Copperfield from his childhood through to adulthood and chronicles the many ups and downs he faces along the way.  This novel is a powerful, moving story that will resonate with many readers.

Buy from Amazon or Bookshop

P.S. David Copperfield is one of the books mentioned in my “Memorable Parties in Classic Literature” article.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

If you’re interested in Dickens’ more comedic work, “The Pickwick Papers” is a great option.  First published as a serial in monthly installments, the novel follows the members of the Pickwick Club, who travel around England observing and reporting on the people they meet.  Along the way, they get into all sorts of mishaps and hijinks.  The novel is packed with humor and satire, and it’s an excellent choice for readers who want to laugh out loud while they’re reading.

Buy from Amazon or Bookshop

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Last but not least, “A Tale of Two Cities” is one of Charles Dickens’s most famous novels, and it’s the book known for the iconic first line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  The book tells the story of two cities, London and Paris, during the time of the French Revolution.  The book follows a cast of characters from both cities and explores the themes of love, loss, and sacrifice.  “A Tale of Two Cities” is a gripping and suspenseful read that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  If you’re looking for a suspenseful historical novel, “A Tale of Two Cities” is a perfect choice.

Buy from Amazon or Bookshop

More About Charles Dickens

What are 3 of Charles Dickens most famous works?

Three of Charles Dickens famous books include:

  1. A Tale of Two Cities: Set in London and Paris, this novel explores life before and during the French Revolution. It remains renowned for its opening line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
  2. Great Expectations: This coming-of-age novel tells the story of an orphan named Pip and remains a staple in literature due to its exploration of themes like wealth, love, and rejection.
  3. Oliver Twist: As one of his most famous works, “Oliver Twist” offers a grim portrayal of orphanages and the underworld of London, illuminating Dickens’ critique of social stratification and poverty.

What is the most famous piece of literature that Charles Dickens ever wrote?

Arguably, the most famous piece of literature that Charles Dickens ever wrote is “A Christmas Carol.”  This novella, which tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from a miser to a kind-hearted man after visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, is synonymous with the holiday season and has been adapted countless times for stage, screen, and radio.  Its message about the spirit of giving and the importance of kindness resonates with people worldwide, making it enduringly popular.

If you’re looking for more classic or short Christmas stories to read, check out my “Classic Christmas Stories that Will Leave You Feeling Festive“article.

What is Charles Dickens least popular book?

While it’s challenging to pinpoint Charles Dickens’ least popular book due to the universal acclaim of his works, “Barnaby Rudge” is often cited as being less well-known among his oeuvre. The novel, one of Dickens’ earlier works, is a historical narrative set against the backdrop of the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. Despite its lesser-known status, “Barnaby Rudge” still showcases Dickens’ masterful storytelling and keen social commentary, making it worth a read for any Dickens aficionado.

Why is Charles Dickens so famous today?

Charles Dickens’ work is still widely read and appreciated today due to the timeless themes he explores.  Charles Dickens’ novels remain popular because they offer insight into human nature while providing an entertaining experience for readers.  His works are full of unforgettable characters that stay with readers long after they’ve finished reading the book.  Charles Dickens’ work has also been adapted into films, television shows, plays, and musicals.

By reading Charles Dickens’ works, readers can gain insight into his time’s social and political issues.  No matter which Charles Dickens book you choose to read first, you are sure to enjoy the timeless stories he wrote.  So if you’re looking for a great place to start your Charles Dickens journey, look no further!  These six books will give you an introduction to Charles Dickens.

What do you think about the Charles Dickens books on this list?

Have you read any of Charles Dickens books?  Are any of these books or his other works on your TBR?   What do you think are Charles Dickens best books?   What do you consider to be Charles Dickens famous books?  What is your favorite book by Dickens?  What books would you add to this list?  Let us talk all about Charles Dickens in the comments below.

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6 Best Charles Dickens Books

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