Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Librarians' Line-Up: Jane Austen Style

Did you know that Mentor Public Library is currently celebrating "Austen in Autumn?" It is our celebration of all things Jane Austen--filled with fun things to do. We are reading Persuasion and giving away free copies of the book at all our branches. Join us for a book discussion to talk about it! We're also hosting many programs related to Ms. Austen and her time. Be sure to check it out!

In honor of our Austen celebration, our librarians and library staff are sharing their favorite Austen books in today's Librarians' Line-Up. You'll notice that of Austen's six books, our library staff's favorites only encompass two. Obviously it's not the most comprehensive list, but we have our reasons. Let us know what your favorite is in the comments below!

Pride and Prejudice, published 1813

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a novel in possession of interesting characters, must be an enjoyable read. 
Yes, you guess it: my favorite Austen novel is Pride & Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favorite female characters of all time—she’s witty and smart, yet a bit reckless—, but what I like best about the book is that it doesn’t get bogged down in symbolism or heavy-handed messages. It’s a light, fun read—and sometimes that’s exactly what you need!

I like all of Austen’s novels, but if I have to pick a favorite, it’s Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth is a fascinating and wonderful character. Darcy’s failure to pick up on this right away makes you think he really needs to have his head examined. It’s not a difficult or demanding book, just one that is very pleasant to read.

I love Pride and Prejudice. I love retellings of P&P too! I like the fact that the main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy, are both so flawed. Both of them are lovely, but certainly not perfect. Both are prone to snap judgments, and are quite stubborn. They feel true-to-life to me, complete with outbursts that they later regret. I love when Darcy professes his love to Lizzy (and is quickly turned down); it is both romantic and foolish. I've probably read this book at least 5 times, and I think it's time to read it again. 

Pride and Prejudice--I feel like I’m not the only one with this answer. I’ve seen Pride and Prejudice proposals for crying out loud! But it’s a classic. And it’s one that I should probably read again. And again. And again.

Persuasion, completed 1816, published posthumously 1818

My favorite Austen novel is Persuasion (which is why I pulled so hard for it to be our choice for "Austen in Autumn." You're welcome, Mentor). Persuasion is Austen's swan song, featuring her most mature heroine, Anne Elliot. Austen, who never married during her life, writes a love letter to second chances and to long lost romances rekindled. You can't help but acknowledge how personal this novel must have been for Austen - a story of a woman on the cusp of spinsterhood finding the love Austen never could.

I’m going to have to go with Persuasion.  It’s a story about lost love and regret, but written with Austen’s great human observations. 

My favorite Austen book is Persuasion. I don't think it's  objectively her best-written book. No, that would still be Pride & Prejudice. But Pride & Prejudice is very much a book for twentysomethings who still believe in some version of "happily ever after." Most Austen books end with everyone happily married to everyone else, even if they argue a little first. P&P is the best of those.
But "Persuasion" is something different. It begins with a warning that a "happily ever after" won't be immediately forthcoming. After all, Anne Elliot didn't get her happily ever after. She let her family talk her out of marrying Captain Wentworth. Now she's in her late 20s—practically middle-aged by Regency Era standards—and she must figure out what to do with her life since it has not played out how she may have hoped. In that way, Persuasion is Austen's most mature and, consequently, my favorite of her stories.

I have only read one book by Austen (What? I know! But, I was a Science major, people!) So, I am really looking forward to reading Persuasion and maybe finding a new favorite. Bring it on, Jane Austen

Please share your favorite Austen book in the comments! And for a little fun with Austen, check out our "Which Austen heroine are you?" quiz. See www.mentorpl.org/austen for more information on our Austen in Autumn events. 

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