Charles Dickens is one of the greatest English writers of all time, and his works are a vital part of our literary history. When he was alive, he was one of the greatest Victorian chroniclers, with his bright wit and complex storytelling making him a household name in literary circles throughout the world.
Charles Dickens’ era-defining books, such as A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist, tackle socioeconomic issues like as labor conditions, poverty, and childhood maltreatment while maintaining a focus on love, friendship, and grief. We’ve compiled a list of the top Charles Dickens books for different types of readers in case you’re not sure where to begin.
The best Charles Dickens book for crime fiction fans
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Bleak House is a murder mystery and a scathing critique of English society that follows the Jarndyce and Jarndyce inheritance case. We’re introduced to a wide range of personalities from various walks of life as the case goes back generations. While Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock are cocooned in their beautiful Lincolnshire home, Jo the destitute crossing cleaner is out on the streets. If you enjoy books about murder, secrecy, and espionage, this one by Charles Dickens is for you.
In the midst of a court system that is more interested in obstructing and obfuscation than resolution, Bleak House remains absolutely modern, and it is his greatest novel.
The best Charles Dickens book for younger readers
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
In London, orphaned Oliver Twist finds himself in the midst of crime, strange acquaintances, and unexpected generosity after he escapes the workhouse where he was born. Oliver Twist is a novel that focuses on the lives of Victorian children and is a great way to introduce children to Charles Dickens.
The most romantic Charles Dickens book
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations depicts the story of a poor orphaned boy, Pip, who falls in love with an upper-class girl, Estella. Will his heart be snatched away by class division? Those who enjoy Dickens as a romantic should start with this heartwarming, plot-twisting, and engrossing work.
The best Charles Dickens books about politics
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
George Bernard Shaw described Hard Times a ‘passionate uprising against the whole industrial structure of the contemporary world,’ which is set in Coketown, a fictitious town based on Preston.’ Scapegoating the post-Industrial Revolution inequality and the trade union movement, it is a vicious caricature of the times.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities, set during the French Revolution, is an excellent starting point for a political thriller. After being wrongfully imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years, Dr. Manette has finally been reunited with his daughter Lucie. In this finely orchestrated tale of vengeance and sacrifice, their family harmony is once again threatened when Lucie falls in love with Charles Darney, who is accused of treason against the English crown.
The best funny Charles Dickens book
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
The Pickwick Club of London brings together an odd group of travelers, including Mr. Pickwick, Tracy Tupman, Augustus Snodgrass, and Nathaniel Winckle. In this heartwarming and funny story, they travel around England making friends with everyone from country squires to local literary geniuses. The Pickwick Papers is a hilarious introduction to Charles Dickens’ work.
The best scary Charles Dickens book
Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens
There is no denying that Charles Dickens is a master of scary tales, but they aren’t just for the holidays. Whether you choose to be scared by the gory courtroom drama “A Trial for Murder” or the creepy home farce “The Ghost in the Bride’s Chamber,” Dickens Ghost Stories will not disappoint.
The best Charles Dickens book if you like to read autobiographies
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Despite its status as a work of fiction, Charles Dickens regarded David Copperfield as his favorite and most autobiographical work. The book chronicles David Copperfield’s life, beginning with his birth in Suffolk and ending with his triumph as a novelist after a difficult adolescence in London. Steerforth, Mr Micawber, Uriah Heep, and Betsey Trotwood, David’s eccentric aunt, are just a few of the novel’s quirky characters, which make it a joy to read.
The best Charles Dickens books to transport you
Scenes of London Life by Charles Dickens
From the colorful mayhem of gin-shops to the desolate squalor of pawnshops, this anthology of satirical short stories provides an authentic glimpse into Victorian London. Scenes of London Life is an easy way to immerse yourself in another culture.
If you only read one Charles Dickens book
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
“Our Mutual Friend” was selected by the BBC for its list of novels that have shaped our worldview. The book, Dickens’ final, is a scathing critique of the corrupting influence of money. In the event of John Harmon’s death and the anticipated death of his son, Mr and Mrs. Boffin, will inherit his money and property. Mr. Boffin’s secretary gets hired, but who is this mysterious newcomer?
Her father, a rough and grizzled old man with a mustache and a beard, is busying himself with something hauled behind them in the murky Thames. I can’t help but be drawn in by the scene. By the time you realize it’s a drowned body, the story has already progressed far enough.’
The best Charles Dickens book to read at Christmas
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday novella, which has been made into a TV series, a stage play, and a film starring Kermit the Frog, has become a holiday tradition. Scrooge, the miserly, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge, is the focus of this Christmas story, which is also a satire of Victorian society. When Scrooge’s dead business partner Marley’s spirit and the Christmases of the past, present, and future pay him a series of haunting visits, they help him realize the mistake of his ways.