Beyond Scrooge

Hungry for great Christmas reading? Seen the sentence, “First of all, Marley was dead,” often enough? There are plenty of options out there.

Let’s say for starters that if you’ve never read “A Christmas Carol,” you owe it to yourself to do so. But Dickens has two other gems written in the years just after Carol and nearly as popular in their time. “The Cricket on the Hearth” lacks the spectacular specters of its predecessor, but it has plenty of human frailty and growth, along with an emotionally satisfying conclusion. “The Chimes” is a sort of precursor to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with a hero who sees what the world would be like without him compliments not of an angel but of goblins. And isn’t that what we all hunger for, Christmas with goblins?

A host of other stories are as close as a Google search. One of my favorites is “High Spirits” by the great Canadian Robertson Davies. When he became master of a brand new college at the University of Toronto, he lamented the lack of history especially the lack of ghosts, so for eighteen years he provided them, giving readings at the holiday convocations. The stories vary from near-horror to droll wit and are invariably entertaining. My favorites involve a character possessed by a portrait of Dickens and a student who builds a Frankencat. The book is thirty-some years old and might take some hunting, but it’s worth it

By all means, get out there and read the season.

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