Austentacious: Jane Austen Reading Challenge
Game Theory is My Jam! I started a new reading challenge!
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -Jane Austen
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As I’ve written about earlier, I decided to read a bunch of books from the nineteenth century this year for my reading theme of 19th century books in 2019! It’s been a journey and I have greatly enjoyed my experience. What I like about reading themes is that it introduces you to books that you wouldn’t just pick up. I did a project where I read 26 National Book Award winners and it was the most fulfilling reading thing I ever did. I had to stop reading Booker Prize winners last year but I still think about most of the books I read. Oh I also read a bunch of books from the National Book Critics Circle lists and it’s how I discovered Robert Caro’s LBJ series. Sidebar, read this book if you haven’t. It is one of the most riveting books I have ever read in my entire life and I can’t recommend it enough.
Anyway, I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and it broke my heart in a million pieces. I got the Norton Edition because I was told those were the best as a young English major. As a 33 year old, the text was too small and I felt really old. As you may know the book was serialized in a magazine and the critical edition had all of the rough parts in it. So she has a baby and it passes (cue me sobbing) and she gets sexually assaulted. I was like “please let it be some Victorian bullshit like the dude sees her ankle” Nope. It was creepy and awful and heartbreaking. The serialized version this guy tricks Tess into marrying him and then they get a room. In my critical edition, it’s like so many stories women have. She was alone, vulnerable, and he gave her a ride. Oh! This evil dude also would drive his carriage really fast so she’d have to hold onto him (ugh!) Like, some men may do today with their cars. Again, the more things change the more they stay the same. Basically the subheading could have been A Pure Woman or “Toxic Masculinity Ruins the Party Again.” So trigger warning y’all. The book would be controversial today since it was against the cult of chastity. I’m like “yeah Thomas Hardy!” but also, I can’t put myself through this for a while. Also, I may have yelled “men are trash!” several times out loud. Classics are classic for a reason and they are timeless. Obviously you won’t be run out of town if you are raped. But people blame women in fact there’s a part called “The Woman Pays.” I needed a happy break. So I’m reading Jane Austen and I’ve decided to read all of her books and analyze them because I think that’s fun!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. - Jane Austen
So I decided to take a “happy break” and I’m reading Pride and Prejudice. I’m getting the Penguin editions because they have the best reading notes. I was getting these cheap books and the notes weren’t as good. When you read classics I feel you owe it to yourself to have a different interpretation. For example, this book talks about trends and debates in feminism in the time it was written. Also, I can read the notes as opposed to them being really really tiny. Sorry, Norton critical editions. It also describes the wealth and what it meant, what neighborhoods meant, and how society was perceived.I read Pride and Prejudice when I was 16 and I loved it. It didn’t change my life but I found it enjoyable. I think it was one of those things that everyone liked and so of course, I was like “how good could it be?” It’s really really different reading it as an adult. It also takes you to a world from an observational standpoint that they generally doesn’t have the feminine gaze right? Women generally are observed, this kind of turns it on their head. It takes the idea of wealth and good taste and turns it on it’s head. It also alludes to things changing as in society was changing from an agrarian society to a more industrial one and that changed social mores. I care about everyone in the book and it’s really nice to hear about the ties that bind ie friendships and families. How the ways of communication may have changed but the topics are the same. I’ll write more about it when I’m finished. I read it over a weekend when I was 16. This has taken me over a week to get to 150 pages (which since I eat books is ridiculously slow) but I have had a nutty week. However, if you want to follow along go to your local library or check out this stunning gift set:
I also found these shirt that I feel speak to me on a personal level so I can bundle up while I read. I’d Rather Be Reading is my truth. My husband and I were joking about what would have happened if we had met when he was out on the town with his best friends. Mark said I would have looked at him and said “I’d rather be reading.” It’s true. I did once shoot down a guy with a wyd text by saying I was reading Melville. I’m charming. I’m really excited to read these books.
Well Read Graphic T-Shirt
from: Cents of Style
I'd Rather Be Reading Graphic T-Shirt
from: Cents of Style
So here we go!
Do you set reading challenges for yourself? Have you read all of Austen’s books? Do you have a favorite? Did you watch all of the adaptations in the nineties? Who is the hottest Mr. Darcy? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks for supporting me in this journey. I’m excited.