Sigrid Nunez's Bookshelf
By Charles Dickens
This is a novel you don't so much read as move into for the duration. For me, it's Dickens's most serious and most entertaining work. The enchantment begins on the first page, with the description of London's "implacable November weather" and the famous fog. I know a writer who used to read this passage for inspiration every day before sitting down to work. All of English Victorian society is here. If nothing else about that world existed, we'd still know it thoroughly from these pages. Mystery, love story, satire, sociological critique—this grand, capacious novel contains them all. But at its core—and like all of Dickens—Bleak House is a kind of fairy tale, a story about good and evil, and the redemptive power of love.