Dickens Club Poll: Reading Schedule for Our Final Year

A “General Mems” Post: Wherein The Dickens Chronological Reading Club considers extending the reading schedule, particularly for Dickens’s longest and densest works.

by Boze and Rach

Friends, we’re in our sixteenth month of our Dickensian journey; we’re over the half-way point, and yet, with Dombey and Son and David Copperfield, we’re just getting into Dickens’s densest and most mature works–and some of his longest.

A few of our members can devour one of these door-stoppers in a matter of days; but we love the discussion time too, and many of us are reading multiple things at once. And as Lenny has noted, each of these works were originally read in serial form over the period of about 18 months–and we’re reading all of them over a period of less than twice that time.

The Dickens Chronological Reading Club is a very ambitious work, and everyone’s time and voice are so important, that we don’t want to lose anyone who is interested because of a packed schedule, nor to hinder a truly close read of these most marvelous texts.

So, based on some of the pacing with Dombey (a 4-week doorstopper that could easily have been 6-8 or more!) we thought it was a good time for a check-in, and possibly a final poll on the scheduling.

About a year ago, we voted to extend the schedule, primarily with the 2-week break in-between reads. Now, your ‘umble (see: Heep) co-hosts are proposing one more alteration to the reading schedule: to maintain the two-week breaks–which can also serve as time to get a head-start on the next read, but to extend most of our reads, according to length.

We have several options below–or share another idea! We’d particularly love to have your more nuanced comments below this post or on twitter (#DickensClub). The “poll” is just to take a pulse, or to get a quick snapshot of where we’re at as a group. But the comments will give more insight and opportunity for dialogue. Boze and Rach will alter the schedule accordingly, based on the largest amount of interest in the group. (Again, based on a combination of the polls and the comments–not one or the other.)


Option 1: Extend Almost Every Read 1-3 Weeks

This will extend the reading club by 2 months–through about July of 2024.


  • 6 weeks per longest books (David Copperfield, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend) instead of the current 4-5 wks.
  • 5 weeks for two of our shorter masterworks (Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities), instead of the current 4.
  • 4 weeks for Hard Times, instead of the current 3.
  • Maintain 4 weeks for the optional essay collection, The Uncommercial Traveler
  • Maintain the 6 week Drood schedule (3 weeks for reading the unfinished MS; 3 optional weeks to discuss various solutions/resolutions over the years.)
  • Maintain final “wrap-up” month.

Option 2: Extend (Almost) Every Book to 2 Months

This will take us through the end of 2024.


  • Every book will be given 2 full months, with the exception of Hard Times, The Uncommercial Traveler, and Drood, which will be a bit shorter.

Option 3: Flexible Version of Option 2

This will take us at least through the end of 2024, with possible spillover into 2025.


  • The default schedule will be Option 2, but have a midway point check-in with each book, to see how progress is, and whether we need more time, or if a large portion of the group needs a longer hiatus prior to the next read. A kind of schedule-it-as-we-go approach, but with a default timeframe.

Option 4: Keep the schedule as it is

On this schedule, the reads extend through April 2024, with May 2024 as a final “wrap-up” month.

NO CHANGE. It will maintain the current schedule of:

  • 4-5 weeks per long book.
  • 3-4 weeks per shorter book.

Option 5: Other – Please comment below


  1. I’d personally rather not change the schedule or if it has to be changed, only add a week or so. You see, I want to do some posts on my blog about Great Expectations adaptations and I don’t want to do that until after I reread the book. The longer the club is drawn out, the longer it’ll take me to get to that. And I’m not even sure if I’ll still being doing The Adaptation Station in December 2024. (I’ve used up roughly half of my ideas at this point.)

    While I’m loving the reading group, I’m not sure I want it to last another whole year. Mainly because of what I wrote above. I’m kind of tired of not being able to read certain Dickens books until we reach them. (I can read two books at the same time, but I prefer them not to be by the same author.) And, ironically, I feel like we’ve already done the least engaging Dickens books at this point. OK, that’s not totally true. When I first read them or tried to read them, I found Bleak House, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities really hard to get into, but now I’ve read the first two enough times that it’d be easy, especially since we’ll only be reading a certain number of chapters per week. I feel like if we cover less with each week, it’ll be harder for me not to ignore the schedule and just keep reading until I get to the end with some books.

    Of course, I realize this reasoning is rather selfish. (Not everyone has as much spare reading time as I have. Most of you reading this probably have more time-consuming jobs than I have.) But I feel like we’re all supposed to respond to this question with our individual self-serving reasons. Now that I’ve shared mine, others can share their opposing ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Stationmaster! I really appreciate the honesty! Boze & I are absolutely fine to keep the schedule as is, too…we’re reading a little ahead (but in the same order) so that he can prepare the intros, but we had thr feeling like it might be a hasty schedule for some members, so we thought we’d better take the “pulse” of the group, for (probably) a final time before we get into the “big” ones. I really appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d vote for extending the schedule a bit, if possible. Daniel & I “read” by way of shared audiobooks, and can’t (very comfortably) listen at the same time, bc we mix up our places. Right now I’m about 3/4 through DC, trying to finish it before the official reading time starts, so Daniel can have it to himself.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. excellent! Thank you so much! This (perhaps Option 1?) might be the compromise choice between keeping the schedule as it is, and extending it out through the whole of 2024 or beyond. Yes, the shared audiobooks presents a challenge, too

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Greetings, ‘umble Co-Hosts!

    I’m with Dana Rail–love the idea of elongation, but not picky about the specific manner.

    If someone held a gun to my head and commanded that I pick one of the specific options, I would likely go with option #2.

    But, I leave it to your ‘umble discretion!


    Liked by 2 people

  4. I would like to extend the reading time. Let’s do Option 1 and read the longer books over six weeks. That would be 136 pages per week when reading David Copperfield, which seems like a good pace for me.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I agree that because these are dense novels going forward we will benefit from being able to take more time digesting & contemplating them, and be able to comment more frequently. Dombey was a bit of a grind – having read it before was a big help but I think we lost some close reading and comment opportunities because we read big chunks rather quickly. Having more time with these big books will, I think, give us time to read/write and to deal with those other pesky day to day things that get in the way ; )

    I’ve voted for option 3 because I like being flexible, because I think the more time spent with CD the better, and because I’m loving this group so much that I don’t want to think about it ending.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As to that last, Chris, I couldn’t agree with you more–I think that’s part of the reason we were discussing this all…Boze & I never want it to end, either!

      I have some thoughts I’ll have to text you that have been knocking about in my head for a bit…not sure whether they’re realistic or not… 🤔💭💭

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I have no idea what I am going to do with myself when it all finishes, either. It is too ghastly a thought to contemplate.
    It would have been good to have had a bit longer with Dombey than we had, so I think that adding more time to the reads is a good idea. I opted for option 3… not so much for its option 2 like qualities, but because it offers a more flexible approach. The time allocation could be expanded for Copperfield and Bleak House and then reviewed and tweaked from there and see how we all feel about the extra time.

    It also gives me more time to wander in wonder down all the rabbit holes I seem very pre-disposed to fall into as part of the reading process 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, Rob, I’m so glad you too don’t want it to end!!! 🙂 (I can’t yet imagine it being well & truly **done** yet!!! 😭) Chris and I have been brainstorming (and Boze and I had a while back too) what things *might* look like for those interested after the chronological reading marathon is done…more anon!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I voted for option 1, but would be pretty happy with any of the extension approaches. The upcoming greats are marvellous, & for me this detailed, granular shared reading experience is an incredible treat & quite precious. We won’t have it again. I just don’t want to have to gulp down sections that l I know I love.
    But happy to find a central area to land on that keeps most people mostly comfortable.
    So love this. Stand by!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re right, Rachel; these last two novels ARE doorstoppers and really require more reading and contemplation time. DOMBEY and DC are such rich and complex novels plotwise and characterwise and really demand a lot of attention, so much so that when I come to ideas I want to write about–within a certain segment–we are already off and running on the next. I’m a pretty slow reader, so I’d vote for option 3. Good heavens, we have BH coming up. Need lots of time for that, I would believe!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Lenny!! I am pondering: what do you think of trying a full 2 months for Bleak House, the way we are giving a trial to the 6 week Copperfield, and then we’ll all have a good idea of how the length feels and do another check-in on our preferences? I think if we extend it out to 8 weeks for most books, I would probably do the summary/wrap-up every other week; that would give us all more time to read and to comment, and each wrap-up takes a good chunk of time and I know it can feel like we’re only getting *started* on a discussion thread when we’re already wrapping it up for the week…what do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. p.s. I totally agree that these are “such rich and complex novels” that “really demand a lot of attention” — and most definitely, BH is one we won’t want to rush through! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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