I personally love the book A Christmas Carol and I read it every December. It’s not a long book, which is probably why it’s a favorite classic of the overwhelmed high school student as well as this librarian with a “to read” list a mile long. I’m also a big fan of Christmas, and Christmas specials, and books about Christmas. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Dickens’ longer works. In high school we read Great Expectations, and I remember very little of it except that it was particularly hard to follow, which kind of turned me off of anything else he’d written for a while. But a few years ago I decided I’d give A Christmas Carol a chance, and it became one of my favorite books.
The language that Dickens used is unlike anything we use in everyday communication in 2014. Not once does Tiny Tim ever LOL, and none of the Ghosts ever *smh* at Scrooge and his cluelessness. Honestly, I can see how it could be hard for some to sit down and read page after page of the lengthy descriptions Dickens used- after all, we want to get to the meat of the story with the ghosts and the grumpy old man learning to appreciate kindness and friendship over money- but when we take the time to read what Dickens wrote he paints some amazing images in our heads.
Continue reading “Marley was dead: to begin with.” The enduring charm of A Christmas Carol
I’m a pretty big (although admittedly fairly recent) Doctor Who fan. My TARDIS â€œBigger on the Insideâ€ poster has pride of place by my desk at work and my Christmas tree will boast a Dalek and a sonic screwdriver. But some of the dialogue flies past me on the first viewing of each episode (perhaps the phrase â€œfirst viewingâ€ gives a fuller sense of my devotion to the show).
I love that the writing is so fast and furious that I have to work to keep up, and I love being able to uncover new jokes and references when I watch again. And one of my very favorite things is when the Doctor makes a literary joke (or, better still, has an entire episode crafted around a literary reference). I mean, come on, how disappointing would it be to have a Timelord with all of time and space at his disposal who wasn’t really, really well read?!
So: what to read to get the Doctor’s best literary jokes so far? Here’s a list to start with:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Doctor Who is a British icon and so is Dickens. Doctor Who Christmas specials have become a bit of a recent holiday tradition (at least in my house), and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is arguably the best-known British holiday story ever; Dickens and the Doctor are a great match, and the show has done both a straight-up Whovian adaptation (titled, helpfully, “A Christmas Carol”), and an episode featuring Charles Dickens, “The Unquiet Dead.” Of the two, I prefer the latter, because the writing is rife with moments where we get to witness the Doctor and Rose influencing future classic literature while also imagining what Dickens might have been like in person. Plus, I like the 9th Doctor a lot.
Shakespeare (all of it) – The episode written to make lit geeks giggle, “The Shakespeare Code” is so chock-full of great quips and allusions to the Bard’s work I’m still finding new jokes a few years later. Start with the sonnets, then work through the comedies (but make sure to hit Hamlet as well). Extra fun = watching the Doctor coin some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines. Continue reading Your Guide to the Literary References of Doctor Who
I love to knit–I’m very slow at it, and not very advanced, but ever since my husband’s grandmother taught me almost ten years ago, I’ve enjoyed it. The cold temperatures this time of year (especially over the last week!) put me even more in a knitting mood, and the only problem then is deciding whether to spend free time reading or knitting. Audiobooks occasionally help with that dilemma, but so do books that feature knitters!
There seems to have been a resurgent interest in knitting over the past few years, but while there are a ton of great nonfiction knitting books out there, I wanted to stick with a list of fictional knitters. It was hard to find very many, so I’ve cheated a bit by branching beyond YA books. Hopefully, one of these knitters will strike your reading mood this winter:
- Mme Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. To start off with perhaps the most famous literary knitter, I may be veering away from YA lit, but not from a memorable story and character. A Tale of Two Cities presents Dickens’ take on the French Revolution and a British family that gets caught up in the chaos. It’s one of his shorter works and includes enough romance and heroics to make it easy to stay connected with the story–not always so with a Dickens work. Mme Defarge is something of a side character, but her knitting takes center stage when the reader learns that she uses it to keep her register…a register of those she, her husband, and their co-revolutionaries have marked for a date with Mme la Guillotine. Continue reading Literary Knitters