On Sunday, my daughter completed her History Day Project. She had chosen Jane Austen as her subject, as she wanted to study someone from history who was a woman and had a literary connection. As the parameters of the assignment were pretty broad, she decided Jane was a good fit for the project.
Of course, I wholeheartedly agreed, and I had a great time helping her research and understand Austen and her role in generating readers.
When we think of the classics, we tend to think that perhaps they are difficult to read and understand. I do my best to urge my students in my writing classes to give some of these classic writers a chance, as I constantly encourage them to pick up Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Hemingway, or whomever they chose. Austen’s universal appeal remains that she writes about real people, what it was like to be a woman in her time, social class distinction, courtship, romance, and the like–all subjects that are still rather interesting to read about today. Additionally, her characters are well drawn, appealing, and interesting. But perhaps it is Austen’s humor and wit that keeps us engaged, as she had the uncanny ability to write people as she saw them, and then fictionalize them.
If you, like me, love these well-told stories, perhaps consider adding lovely bound copies of these books to your library. These classically beautiful editions of a variety of books can be purchased at one of my favorite stores, Anthropologie, where I typically shop for clothes. Gorgeously designed, these novels would make a lovely gift or addition to anyone’s bookshelves. I am a firm believer in giving the gift of reading, especially when it is presented as charmingly as these, and there is no denying the warmth books add to decor and space.
On one particular shelf in my home, I keep my collection of fashion and style books…while these are not literary classics, they are my staples to style. Any collection can be beautiful, and I am on my way to building a literary classics library to call my own.