In honor of Jane Austen’s 240th birthday this past Wednesday I went to my shelf full of Jane Austen inspired works. There are many to chose from, but I wanted something short and light and I ended up with this lovely book.
I picked it up a kindle copy back in September 2013, don’t tell past me because I raved about how I was REALLY good and didn’t buy any books. It must’ve been one of the daily deals.
It was a very quick read, I read it all yesterday in two sittings, and it was quite informative. It explained pretty much any question you could have about manners and etiquette during Jane Austen’s time. (Seriously, see the chapter titles below.) Ross takes the advice from the novels Austen wrote and letters she wrote to her sister, Cassandra Austen, and her niece Anna Austen (janeausten.co.uk links), observing manners and habits of the time.
I’m finally starting to make a “dent” in my to-be-read shelves! YAY! On the downside, due to work events and the seasonal time change affecting me more than usual this book took two weeks to read, which is sad because it was so beautifully written.
I’m going to start by saying take my review with a grain of salt because this is a book about books and writing and conservation so of course I loved it. It also coincided with our visit to the 39th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (a blog post about it on The New Antiquarian as the BIABF’s website appears to be down), which was great because we saw many religious texts which reminded me that I needed to finish reading this wonderful book! I’ll talk more about the fair later in a special Culture Corner post, hopefully, or at the very least in my November recap in early December.
[To hear the episode of Come Read With Me where my friend Jess and I discuss this, click here.]
I’m a little torn on this book. At the same time that it reminded me of some fascinating books I’ve read over the past few years (Geraldine Brook’s March and William MacAskill’s Doing Good Better) I couldn’t help but compare it to Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And unfortunately for Aptowicz, it wasn’t that great of a comparison. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very interesting read and I enjoyed the book. I’m sure this book had its own set of challenges in the research done, but I still can’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t as much a fan of this.
At first I thought it was because Aptowicz was super young and this was her first book. Her writing style felt a bit like student-work, which she admits is when she got the idea and started writing originally, but I found out pretty quick I was wrong on this one. And it’s not her first book, but it is her first work of nonfiction. (Thanks Wikipedia.) Either way, I’m grateful to Avery, a Penguin Books imprint, for providing a copy.* And the best part is, if you’re interested in the book it’s just been released in paperback at the beginning of September! (AKA Yay for more affordability!; Publisher’s website.)
I understand how important this work is, you know, history and stuff (hello sarcasm), but there is no need for the introduction to be roughly half the length of the entire work! Seriously, by time I actually got to the work which I would say is about 60 pages long, I’d read 30 pages and knew almost the entire story! Whoever wrote the introduction quoted almost all of it.
Mostly this book brings back the time in my first year of undergrad where I thought I wanted to study Ancient-Medieval history and then I scrapped by with my worst grade ever in my Greek history class and spent the next three-and-a-half years trying to make up for it and improve my GPA. On the plus side, this book counts towards my Classics Club reading list and I’m slowly chipping away. Finishing this, I’ve now passed the 40 books mark (41/100) and I’m nearing the halfway point. I’m behind schedule, but I threw the schedule out the window ages ago.
Many of you might not know this about me, but when I have a problem that I don’t know how to deal with my first response is to research it as in-depth as possible. That makes it a bit awkward when I blog about everything I read (this is my journal reading journal as much as it is your review site). At the same time it’s great because I get to share interesting books, like Her Best-Kept Secret (Amazon Affiliate link), that I never would have read. And I force myself to explore and synthesize in-depth a lot of topics.
If you see me on a day-to-day basis you’re aware that someone close to me has a lot of problems with alcohol, it’s kind of obvious they are a “she” based on the book title. In reality, I’m not sure it would’ve mattered if they were a she, because after reading The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous (link to the article) in The Atlantic I knew I wanted to find out more about non Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programs and I figured Glaser was a great place to start as she mentioned her book in the article.
The amazing and wonderful Sarah of Sarah Reads Too Much sent this book to me knowing how much I love Jane Austen and I’m so glad she did! You can check out her review of the book here.
Please, don’t misjudge my response, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the book. I just have strong opinions on Austen and I definitely went off on a tangent. I mean Sullivan clearly loves Austen AND she convinced me to give the graphic novel adaptations a go, that’s something right!?