NYPL Celebrates 175th Anniversary of A Christmas Carol with Insta Novels and Podcast

By Lynn Lobash, Associate Director, Readers Services
December 19, 2018

To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the book's publication, The New York Public Library released a surprise edition of Insta Novels: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This version of the holiday classic was illustrated by Caitlin McCarthy (@c8l.in) and is available to read on the Library's Instagram account (@nypl). NYPL has also rebroadcast one of its most popular podcast episodes featuring Neil Gaiman reading from Charles Dickens's own prompt copy of A Christmas Carol.

Insta Novels reimagine Instagram's Stories feature as a new platform for some of the most iconic stories ever written. The Library first launched Insta Novels in August 2018 with a digital version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Magoz (@magoz). In October, the Library released Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," illustrated by Buck (@buck_design), on its Instagram account. On Halloween, NYPL released Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" at midnight, illustrated by Studio Aka (@studioaka). Most recently, the Library released Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis , illustrated by Pelizer César (@cesarpelizer), in early December. The program, created by independent advertising and creative agency Mother in New York and developed in partnership with the Library, aims to make these stories more widely available, reach new audiences, and turn a space for fleeting interactions into one for immersive reading.

How to Read A Christmas Carol on Instagram

First, go to the Library's Instagram account (@nypl) and tap "Carol PT 1" in the highlights section, right under the bio.

Rest your thumb on lower right part of the screen to hold the page, and lift your thumb to turn the page. (The lower right thumb holder is designed to double as a flip book: if you lift your thumb and let the pages flip, you'll see an animation.)

Did you miss the previous Insta Novels of The Metamorphosis, "The Raven," Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or "The Yellow Wallpaper?" You can still read these Insta Novel editions by locating them on our virtual bookshelf in the highlights section of the Library's Instagram account (@nypl).

If you don't have Instagram or want to explore other ways to read A Christmas Carol this holiday season, there are other ways to enjoy the story. Check out Neil Gaiman reading the novella on the Library Talks podcast, find a version formatted in your preferred reading method below, or visit a special Charles Dickens display at the Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Midtown.

Listen to Neil Gaiman Read A Christmas Carol on Library Talks

Charles Dickens's prompt copy and Neil Gaiman

For the last five years, the Library has celebrated its own holiday tradition of listening to novelist and comic book creator Neil Gaiman read A Christmas Carol. In 2013, Gaiman transformed into Charles Dickens with the help of a costume and makeup, and read from a rare edition—Dickens's very own prompt copy—of the novella. Listen to our Library Talks podcast to hear Gaiman bring Dickens's words to life.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

Visit the instruction page for direction on how to listen to the Library Talks podcast.

Explore more on Charles Dickens with NYPL

The New York Public Library holds more than 1,200 items of Dickens material in its collections, much of it in the Berg Collection of English and American Literature. The collections include manuscripts, letters, diaries, portraits, his writing desk, and a letter opener fashioned from the paw of Dickens's deceased cat Bob. You can view many of these incredible items by visiting our digital collections.

If you are in New York City through January 7, 2019, you can view some of our Dickens items in a special display at our 42nd Street location. Items on display include heavily annotated prompt copies—which he used in his readings—of A Christmas CaroI and other holiday books, including The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, original photographs, and more.

Read More on SimplyE from The New York Public Library

All stories that appear as Insta Novels are also available on SimplyE, The New York Public Library's free e-reader app, available on the App Store or Google Play.

Anyone can browse classic titles, including "The Raven," The Metamorphosis, "The Yellow Wallpaper," Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and A Christmas Carol in the SimplyE Collection in the app. Those eligible for library cards from The New York Public Library can also access 300,000+ e-books, from bestellers to classics, by connecting to NYPL in the app.

Other Ways to Read the Stories

There are many ways to read or listen to A Christmas Carol, The Metamorphosis, "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Raven," and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Anyone can access the full text of the stories on the Project Gutenberg website. NYPL cardholders can check out the books and audiobooks via the NYPL catalog. Also, you can find many of the stories by searching the online catalog of NYPL's Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.

What to Read after A Christmas Carol

If you like A Christmas Carol,  you may enjoy these haunting holiday tales.

The Haunted Tea-cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas by Edward Gorey
Provides an off-beat look at Christmas and the holiday season in a new version of Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Caroline by Kyle Smith 
Every day is like Christmas for Caroline, a young blond editor at Presents. On Christmas Eve, the ghost of Caroline's roommate, Carly, returns to warn that three more spirits are coming. 

The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge by Charles C. Lovett

A sequel to A Christmas Carol set twenty years after Scrooge's famous reformation finds him teaming up with a returning cast of ghosts to help the restless spirit of Jacob Marley.