Monday was the 200th anniversary (or birthday? what do you have when you're a book?) of Pride and Prejudice being published. I thought it was a fine time to update the dusty blog and write about how 2013 is - finally - my year of Jane Austen. As I track my books I read during a year, I usually see a theme emerge - but this year I decided to establish a theme from the beginning.
I have slowly shared my deepest reader-shame secret, and so far no one has told me they can no longer respect me - hopefully you will feel the same. I, who loves books and reading so, have never read Pride and Prejudice all the way through. The only Austen I have ever managed to read (until this month) was Sense and Sensibility. When Emma Thompson won her Oscar for the screenplay of Sense and Sensibility, I fell in love with the movie, and then read the book. I remember it being somewhat difficult but I could get through it because I had an idea of what would happen next. I have picked up Pride and Prejudice and put it back down again, bogged down somehow. I've seen BOTH the BBC miniseries and the newer Keira Knightley production. I love them both. But I just couldn't get past the first dance where Mr. Darcy snubs Elizabeth Bennett. In fact, if you ask me, I don't know how anyone could think Mr. Darcy is worth a second thought, if you stop right there. Grouchy man! Who needs you?
But we all know that Colin Firth has shown us the way of Mr. Darcy, for this we give thanks. *angels singing* *gospel choir swaying*
So, I've been kicking around the idea for a few years now that I need to not only read Pride and Prejudice, but all of Jane Austen's books. What better than this year, right? So that's my plan. Last year I bought the Annotated Pride and Prejudice and that's what I'm reading right now, as well as Claire Tomalin's biography about the good lady Austen herself. I am not necessarily trying to spread the books out over the whole year, but I also don't want to read ONLY Jane Austen stuff and then burn out. I admit that I want to gorge on all of it, but pacing is key! I am looking forward to delving into some of the spin-off genres, as well as books like Death Comes to Pemberley, Austenland, and The Jane Austen Book Club. I am keeping my wish list and to-read list FULL, but if you have any you'd like to recommend, please do. I'm also going to have fun with all the film adaptations and mini-series and fully indulge in those as well.
And just so you know how much I overthink my reading list, I thought - well, maybe should I wait to read P&P until the end of the year? It's been such a mental boogeyman for so long, should I build up to it? But I thought it was too perfect to start it again on the 200th birthday of its publishing date, so here I am going for it in the first month of the year. But February is just around the corner, or tomorrow - let's not get hung up on technicalities, right?
I've already read Emma, as well, but will post about it separately. (I'm gonna need room to gush.) So, raise your cup of coffee or glass of wine, and toast to a year of Jane Austen with me!