The Man Who Invented Christmas

Standing outside an airport bookstore last month killing time before boarding, my eyes scanned the new books on display…Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, Glenn Beck’s Arguing With Idiots, Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny…so many books, so little time.

Then, a few inches above floor level on the bottom shelf I spotted a small book with a beautiful cover…but the title is what grabbed me: The Man Who Invented Christmas.

“Another attack on Christmas,” I thought, assuming it was a story about some evil capitalist pig responsible for the commercialization of Christmas and rendering it nothing more than any other holiday.

Curiosity got the best of me, so I picked it up and read as much as I could in the 10-15 minutes before my flight.  Not near enough time, but what I was able to read certainly convinced me that I need to get this book and read it.

Not some toy company CEO, or Macy’s board of directors, or ad agency is the subject of Les Standiford’s latest book.  The subject is no less than Charles Dickens: the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and one of the most popular of all time.  Standiford describes…

…how a struggling Charles Dickens came to write the small book that would transform a somber, faded holiday into the celebration of charity and good cheer we know today.

Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist.

The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new life into a holiday that had fallen into disfavor, undermined by lingering Puritanism and the cold modernity of the Industrial Revolution. It was a harsh and dreary age, in desperate need of spiritual renewal, ready to embrace a book that ended with blessings for one and all.

I still haven’t had the time to read the book, but I will (famous last words).  If you’ve read it, please comment and share your review with the rest of us.

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3 Comments »

  1. […] Plugged In’s review (and what we’ve heard by word of mouth), the movie sticks closely to Charles Dickens’ story so think twice before taking young children to see the movie as they might find it a little […]

  2. 2
    jcjohnsong Says:

    So … it’s been several years since you posted this … have you read the book yet like you promised yourself you would? What did you think of it?

    Several years ago Talk Radio’s Dennis Prager interviewed the author, Les Standiford, on Christmas Eve Day when I was busy going from store to store doing last minute shopping.

    He ruined my shopping trip … I spent the whole interview sitting in the parking lot listening to the radio… it was too interesting to turn off in the middle … even if I did have shopping to do and no other day to do it on.

    If you haven’t read the book yet here is the web link to purchase Dennis’ interview with the author …
    http://stores.dennisprager.com/PROD/20081224a.html
    Wednesday, December 24, 2008 Radio Show
    Dennis talks to Les Standiford – His new book is “The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirit”

    … And even if you have read the book I think you might enjoy the audio of the Dennis Prager interview. Listening to the author and Dennis talking about the book really makes the story come alive.

  3. 3
    troper Says:

    I have to admit, no I have not read the book 😦 It’s been tough holding a job these last 4 years, so I don’t have a lot of time or extra sending money. I am a HUGE Dennis Prager fan – I listen everyday and have gone to see him speak. I even called in one time and spoke with him (about the 4th of July Seder). God bless!


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