Reading lists

Where to start reading Charles Dickens

Dickens wrote some of the most incredible characters and fascinating plots in literary history. Here, books journalist Anna James suggests how you can navigate his bibliography.

A flatlay of clothbound-cover Charles Dickens books
How many have you read? Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

Charles Dickens enjoyed a great deal of popularity in his own time. With many of his works first published as serialised novels, he struck a chord then with his exploration of the human condition, of poverty and injustice, and his sharp character studies that managed to be both witty and perceptive. And what people loved then, we still love now. Many of his themes remain relevant and resonant, and his characters still feel familiar, offering that same mirror to readers to see ourselves more truly.

But he was a prolific writer; and authored at least 19 novels and short stories. If you’ve never tried one, or you’re not sure which to read next, here’s a quick guide to eight that make a good starting point. 

Charles Dickens Penguin Clothbound Classics

Major Works of Charles Dickens

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