Exactly 171 years ago, Charles Dickens sat down and wrote "A Christmas Carol." Dickens liked to write stories for Christmas, but "A Christmas Carol," with stingy boss Ebenezer Scrooge, clerk Bob Cratchit, Bob's sweet son Tiny Tim, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, has been the most lasting, being cycled and recycled countless times in fiction, television and film.
Author Neil Gaiman went back to the original in 2013 at the New York Public Library. At a public performance, Gaiman read "A Christmas Carol" using Dickens' own "prompt" copy. It's the only surviving copy of the story that Dickens edited himself for living readings, annotated in Dickens' own hand. The New York Public Library holds the copy in its collection.
The reading is available as the 41st episode of the New York Public Library podcast. These days podcasts have been getting a lot of attention, thanks to NPR's "Serial," but places such as the New York Public Library have long been making their programming available for free download.
Other New York Public Library podcasts include a conversation between Chuck Palahniuk and Douglas Coupland, filmmaker John Waters on his memoir "Car Sick," novelist Jane Smiley, and Karl Ove Knausgaard ("My Struggle") in conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides.
And of course the Los Angeles Public Library has a podcast, too, featuring recordings of its live readings and events. Looking back at 2014, its recent podcasts include Carlos Santana with Cheech Marin, Marilynne Robinson on her novel "Lila," James Ellroy with Walter Kirn, and Denis Johnson with a performance of "The Starlight on Idaho."