Holiday Selection

Herbert presents The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (Photo by M.A.D.)

I try to select a special book that I can enjoy during the holiday season. This year’s selection is The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. I did not own this particular book but has been on my list for some time, so I decided to treat myself this year. I always try to buy a vintage or antique copy (when possible) of a book that I know I will have for many years. This time, it was a bit challenging because of the many variations online of this particular book, many publications, range in price, and condition. I knew I wanted a hardcopy, and after many moments of indecision between so many tempting years of publication, I ended up with this one, called The Oxford Illustrated Dickens by the Oxford University Press, 1966. I was torn between this one and a much older publication of this book, early 1900’s, also a hardcopy. I decided on this one mainly because of the excellent condition, including the jacket, and that it included the original illustrations throughout the book, 76 early engravings. I especially loved the cover presentation. Am I still thinking about that older copy? You bet I am. I hope to finish Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales soon, so I can indulge on this lovely book.

The Old Curiosity Shop was first published in two volumes (1840-41). This particular edition includes both, which is something I like. However, if you would like to find separate vintage volumes, they are available online, either separate or as a set, which was something I struggled with when making my final decision. The works of Dickens are widely known. His life had a rough start, and sadly, he died in 1870 at the age of 58 before he could finish his last work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. For those of you who are fond of older books and would like to own this particular story, the good news is that there is plenty to choose from online, and at a variety of prices, from the most expensive and rare to the most humble and recent publications. There is truly a generous selection.

The story is about Little Nell and her grandfather being pursued by an evil dwarf, and they end up meeting a series of interesting characters. That’s the short version, 555 pages. I have to admit that I am in for a treat because I have not read this story of Dickens, so I am now wanting to finish Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales in order to enjoy this book.