Although the name A Christmas Carol might bring to mind images of Muppets and a century’s worth of musical theater adaptations, Dickens’s story holds a pre-eminent place in literature for a reason. The novella, which weaves a critique of 19th-century British society’s treatment of the poor into its tale of festive ghosts and a grumbling financier, inspired a wave of fundraisers and charitable donations across the United Kingdom when it was published in 1843. It also popularized the phrase “Merry Christmas,” which is sort of a big deal. Today, Housing Works is holding What the Dickens?, their second annual reading of A Christmas Carol, with hot chocolate, wine, and other holiday treats from the café. Authors Lynne Tillman, David Goodwillie, Emma Straub, and Lev Grossman will read, as well as Paris Review editor Lorin Stein, This American Life’s Ira Glass, and comedian Scott Adsit, who plays Pete on 30 Rock. All books in the store will be 10 percent off for the occasion.

Sun., Dec. 18, 1 p.m., 2011