Originally Posted by HarryT
The main "problem" with Dickens, to my mind, is that teenagers are force-fed his books in school, and that puts them off him for life. He's very much an "adult" author and you need to be an adult reader to appreciate his biting wit and social comment.
His novels aren't exactly the right place to find that, though. He did write a number of shorter essays, published as 'The Uncommercial Traveller', which tend to be much better reads. Unfortunately they start off with Dickens at his most pathetical over the shipwreck of 'The Royal Charter'. The eighth story -- The Cargo of the Tasmania, I think -- is a must-read: it's on the maltreatment of soldiers who were (at first at least) considered to be deserters and shipped to England. No pathos here, only sharp satire.