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Travel to the 19th century – with our top train reading picks

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All aboard the all new book club! Every month, we’ll be suggesting books for you to read when you’re on the train. And we’d love it if you shared your comments and picks for next month with us.

This month, we’re recommending classic Victorian fiction. There’s a real 19th century feel to 2012 – and you can use your train journey to transport yourself back to the past, by immersing yourself in some Victorian-themed books.

2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the births of Charles Dickens, Robert Browning and Edward Lear, as well as the 100th anniversary of the death of Bram Stoker.

And with the BBC’s Christmas 2011 production of ‘Great Expectations’ and the second series of ‘Sherlock’ recently keeping viewers glued to their TVs, the nineteenth century’s definitely back in vogue.

So check our journey planner and pick up some cheap train tickets – and use the money you saved to treat yourself to one of these Victorian and 19th-century themed books for the perfect travel companion:

What the Dickens?

If you were mesmerised by Miss Havisham’s machinations this Christmas, make sure you read ‘Great Expectations’ to see how Dickens originally told the tale. Or follow Oliver Twist on his journey into the dark side of Victorian London, as he becomes entrenched in the world of Fagin, the Artful Dodger and the truly terrifying Bill Sykes.

Other must-read Dickens novels include:

• David Copperfield
• The Old Curiosity Shop
• The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
• Bleak House

And if you fancy learning more about Charles Dickens himself, try:

• Charles Dickens: A Life – Claire Tomalin
• Charles Dickens – Michael Slater
• Dickens: Abridged – Peter Ackroyd
• Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women – Jenny Hartley

Pick up some poetry

If you prefer to immerse yourself in verse, try the works of Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti or Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Or enter the nonsensical worlds of Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. ‘The Dong With The Luminous Nose’ and ‘The Pobble Who Has No Toes’.

Chill out with some cosy childhood classics

The Victorian upper classes are often credited with inventing the concept of childhood as we know it today, and many of the books written for little ones then are still bookshelf essentials today.

Revert to your childhood with Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, Charles Kingsley’s ‘The Water Babies’ or Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’.

Enjoy the aesthetic

Get genned up on Victorian Art while you travel. One of the most famous groups of Victorian artists was the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and there are some great books about these flamboyant Victorian hell-raisers out there, including:

• Desperate Romantics – Franny Moyle
• Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel – Lucinda Hawksley
• The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination – Fiona MacCarthy
• Rossetti’s Wombat: Pre-Raphaelites and Australian Animals in Victorian London – John Simons.

Other must-read Victorian art books include Nicholas Troman’s recently released biography of Richard Dadd.

A Victorian miscellany

For more 19th-century literary delights, choose:

• Dracula – Bram Stoker
• The Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
• Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
• Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
• Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
• The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Alternatively, try A.S. Byatt’s ‘The Children’s Book’ for a contemporary novel in a Victorian setting.

Or suspend your disbelief and journey into the world of steampunk with China Miéville’s ‘Perdido Street Station’ – the perfect title for train travellers.

Have you got any Victorian reading list recommendations? Let us know….

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