I'm so pleased to have today's guest post from BCG favorite Laurie Viera Rigler, author of one of the most fun books I read this past year, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. If you missed our Book Club Girl on Air show with Laurie, give a listen here. Enjoy the below on the merits of giving Jane for the holidays, and raise a glass to our friend Jane at some point today as she celebrates her birthday!
Much has been said on this blog in favor of giving books as holiday gifts, and I couldn't agree more. The only thing I'd like to add is this: Consider giving a book by Jane Austen.
Austen's six novels are some of the most discussible stories you’ll ever read. Pride and Prejudice is about how we make snap judgments about others but don't have a clue. Emma is also about cluelessness, but in the form of a comically misguided matchmaker. Persuasion is all about getting a second chance at life and love. Sense and Sensibility explores the battle between head and heart. Northanger Abbey is about growing up and becoming self-reliant. And Mansfield Park is about standing firm to what you believe despite pressure from everyone you know.
Even if you're not in a book group, Austen will give you plenty to delight in and ponder on your own. Or how about trying a read-aloud with your significant other, best friend, or teenage daughter? Sort of like taking a trip back to a time to Austen's day, when friends and family would sit around the fire and read out the best stories, installment by installment. A time before there were shopping malls and online stores and credit cards to max out.
Speaking of not maxing out your credit cards: If you'd like to get the most out of your book-buying dollars, consider how many times the average avid Austen reader returns to each of those novels. A lot of us re-read all six yearly or every couple of years. That's a lot of bang for your buck.
So what's so extraordinary about Austen that people like me can't stop reading her and talking about her? How about masterful storytelling, a killer sense of humor, an unflinching look at human nature—the good, the bad, and the ludicrous—and yeah, there's also a really satisfying love story wrapped up inside. Every time I read Austen, I learn something new about myself, and I see something new in the characters and the stories. Every time I turn the last page, I am filled with happiness and hope. And in times like these, we could all use a lot of that.
By the way, December 16 (that's today!) is Jane Austen's birthday. She's only 233.
In honor of my favorite author's birthday and the holiday season, I'll be giving away two signed copies of my novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Which is also about taking a trip back to Austen's time.
Just leave a comment here by midnight, Thursday, December 18th and you'll be eligible for a random drawing.
Happy holidays to all, and happy birthday, Jane Austen!