A Christmas Carol (part ii)

I read it every December. The library owns a ratty old copy, a broken binding, a lousy font. The lines sit too close together. People like me with a propensity towards double vision struggle not to jump around—reread the last line, skip to the next. Even though I know I’ll read it, since I always read it, finding myself with it at checkout always seems like a happy accident. Being Christmas, the staff display it on a large, clear plastic shelf that inserts into the end of the aisle. Such a tiny book, it seems lonely, lost with so much empty space on the shelf. I feel like I’m rescuing the forlorn thing. I bring it home for some attention, some care.

I don’t love the whole story, just the first and last staves—that’s the term used for the five chapters of the book—Marley’s ghost, Scrooge’s redemption. Beautiful writing. The book reminds me of a fine summer day. A stunning sunrise, a jaw-dropping sunset with nondescript sunshine in between. Not unpleasant, that middle part, but not awe inspiring either.

I didn’t read it this year. I never saw it on its shelf, I never looked. I asked my family for a copy of my own. “Before you buy it, check to see if it has a decent font.” This request surprises no one. Typical Jeff, something unique to obsess over. Susan bought two copies. The best interiors she could find, giving me an option to trade out if I’m unhappy with my choice.

I’ve cleared my plate. I’ve finished the other book I received for Christmas. A disappointing Vonnegut memoir—his last project—that offered nothing but proof it’s possible for a genius to out last his welcome. My two copies of A Christmas Carol sit beside me now, waiting for me to choose. One guaranteed to be read annually until the pages fall out, the other will make a fine gift for someone next year.

15 thoughts on “A Christmas Carol (part ii)

  1. I love Dickens! And I have books that were yearly reads that got worn out and replaced.
    I still haven’t been able to read an actual book since before lockdown. I have some kind of Reader’s Block or something 🤷🏼‍♀️ I can’t focus on what I’m reading or I fall asleep. It sucks☹

    Enjoy your new book! Maybe you should give the other one to your library 🤷🏼‍♀️ replace their sad copy😉

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  2. I considered the library. They are both cheap paperbacks. I don’t think either would last long in circulation. I’ve already got a recipient picked out. I’ll send it with this essay. Hopefully he’ll get the same joy from the book I do each year. I had the pandemic reading block for quite a while. It’s mostly gone, but I still spend too much time poking at news when I could be reading instead. To get restarted, I reread some of my favorites.

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  3. how nice to have such a book that you enjoy reading so often. I am tempted to reread The Count of Monte Cristo again since I loved it so much the first time, but then there are so many new books (to me) I want to read as well…

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    • Truthfully, I have a hard time finding books I want to read, my favorites are in a narrow swath of sci-fi. I wind up reading something I’ve already read several times a year. I find a christmas carol comforting and it serves as a bit of a mood reboot. I didn’t think I was going to read it this year, and then I started writing about it…

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  4. I am very fond of this novella too. It is like a wintry war hug (once you get past the frosty start). I teach the play version to our year 7s but I haven’t read the original for a couple of years. I think I will treat myself to a re-read next Christmas.

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  5. What a neat tradition. I don’t have one for Christmas, but for Halloween, I always pick up a Ray Bradbury Halloween story. I used to read one to the kids each season but now no one will sit and listen so they are just for me to enjoy.

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