A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
(Everyman’s Library, 1994, 180 pages)
This holiday classic needs no introduction, summary, or recommendation. It has come to define how we experience and celebrate the Christmas season, and I think its parable of redemption and charity make us all better people for being invariably shaped by its themes.
This particular edition has the added benefit of classic illustrations by Arthur Rackham, who also provided illustrations for such classics as Gulliver’s Travels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and many more. Rackham’s combination of color and black and white depictions of the novel’s high points enhance the reading experience immeasurably. Marley’s ghost is properly ghoulish, the Cratchit’s are skinny yet cheerful, and Scrooge’s cantankerousness and cruelty is manifested in his twisted appearance.
There is probably no better commentary on the story as a whole than the brief Preface that Dickens included with the original edition of the novel in 1843:
“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book to raise the Ghost of an Idea which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their house pleasantly and no one wish to lay it.”
A few hours spent with this classic will pleasantly haunt your holiday season indeed.