Sometimes I think we give you the impression that all we think about is Jane Austen. This is not so! We think about Colin Firth… and shirts…. and… other things….
Yes, other things! Austen fans are many-sided people, and we intend to prove it to you! That’s why we’re taking this grand tour of the bookshelves of the Beloved Sisters. I could call this Spring Cleaning or Self Discovery or something, but come on. We all know we just want to talk books here. And hey, maybe I like something that I never thought of as being part of my Austen fandom, but you’ll like too!
First stop: The Kitchen
I keep my travel books with my food books, and they all live in the kitchen. This makes sense, right? Cooking is very similar to travel, but, like, imaginary—? I’m not sure if Pemberley is listed in the Dictionary of Imaginary Places or not. But I am proud of my food/books/teacups mélange because I like to think it’s how people lived in Jane Austen’s day. I keep it real.
Next door is my portfolio bookshelf: books I’ve edited, written for, etc. They are just math textbooks, mostly. But they are also mixed with teacups and little things. I shan’t recommend any of these math books for you (but email me if you’re interested!). There are more in the bedroom anyway.
Second stop: The Living Room
I’m actually in the middle of rearranging my books and china because I love to play with them. Here are many of my favorite series and “books by authors that write a lot of books.” Agatha Christie, Jasper Fforde, the Judge Dee books by Robert Van Gulik, Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and more Terry Pratchett. Mystery and wacky alternative-world fantasy comedy are my two basic genres.
Of all of these, I’m actually going to recommend Judge Dee for you. Judge Dee was a real person who lived and detected in 7th-century China. These books are made-up cases from ancient Chinese detective stories translated and added to by a 1950s Dutch diplomat named Robert Van Gulik. I have no idea why I think Judge Dee fits with Austen—I just do. These are crime story books. They have murder and torture and weird sex (off-screen) and almost no romance. On the other hand, there is a lot of tea. Far more than in Jane Austen, actually. And Van Gulik has a simple, clear writing style like Austen, and focuses on daily life in ancient China. So there’s that.
Third stop: The Bedroom
This bookshelf is in flux (and in the dark apparently). Otherwise, it would never have an empty shelf. What kind of book-hating infidel do you think I am? Above we see my old diaries (awww) and my almost complete collection of P.G. Wodehouse. . .
ALL OF YOU, especially all of you who love funny writing, but ALL OF YOU: Put down this post and read some freaking Wodehouse! Now!! Yes, I mean it. I’ll wait. GOOOOO!!!!!
Are you done? That was fast. OK, when you need another fix, try the short story “Uncle Fred Flits By.” Meanwhile, this bookshelf also has Harry Potter, Elizabeth Peters, Gabriel Nix, a few of my children’s books, and, sigh, the 1888 Chamber’s Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge I bought for Mr. Fitzpatrick as a Christmas present before we were even engaged. He used to post entries from it online under the name of Vickipedia. (I named it that.) If you go there, you can read the entries hosted on that site, but not the ones he moved to his website, multipledigression.com, because that site no longer exists. And now I feel sad.
My beloved Mr. Fitzpatrick gave me a lot of my books. Let me tell you about just one of them: an original British edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I already had my copy of this book with the American title, Sorcerer’s Stone, but as someone with an interest in history, magical thinking, secrets, etc, he abhorred the change in the title. (J.K. Rowling didn’t make up the philosopher’s stone—it was the goal of alchemy.) And he had heard that the original had text differences as well, and he knew how I always want original sources. So, he ordered it from England for me. Alas, there are virtually NO differences* 🙂 but of course I’ll always keep it.
This corner has everything else! Even some non-fiction, believe it or not. Old friends like Laura Ingalls Wilder, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ramona Quimby, a ton of Madeleine L’Engle, Anne of Green Gables (all 8), Narnia. . .. Nestled cosily into these are my books on origami, math, grammar, neuroscience, art, physics, and fashion. And my Jane Austen books! You can find them at the left, third shelf up, under the math and origami.
What do I recommend for you here? Wow. . . Let’s go list form!
- Mathy Austen fans (yes, this is a thing, you guys): Pearls in Graph Theory by Gerhard Ringel has Austen’s beautiful simplicity. And I’m excited about tackling Geometric Folding Algorithms by Erik Demaine.
- Anglophilia maniacs: I think you will love E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series. These are about middle-class English daily life in the 1930s and they are wickedly funny.
- Mystery fans: If you have not read Dorothy L. Sayers, why have you not read Dorothy L. Sayers? Lord Peter Wimsey! Harriet Vane! These books are . . . also about middle-class English daily life in the 1930s. But not so funny and with murder and romance. So I run to type a little. Sue me.
- Grammar geeks: You really can’t go wrong with Karen Elizabeth Gordon. The Bad Girl of Grammar! Vampires and corsets! But, you know, before that was cliché.
- And of course, all y’all should read MOAR Austen! The minor works! Sanditon! Lady Susan! The History of England! Good times.
- I’ve also heard there’s this book called Pride and Prejudice. You should check it out.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this tour through one Jane Austen fan’s bookshelves. What do you ladies and gentlemen read? Show us your diversity!
Next stop: Miss Osborne! Thank you for traveling with Austenacious.
*The main difference is that Dudley’s first word is “shan’t” rather than “won’t.” And this was before they’d twigged that Americans can handle kids calling their mothers “mum.”
Photo credit: All photos ©2014 Heather Dever. If you really want to share them, um, be my guest.