Whenever I get into a book funk and lose my reading mojo, I like to go back to an old favourite. Sometimes it happens as I’ve struggled to get through a new book and I read more slowly (I really loathe not finishing a book. Making the conscious decision to not finish a book has happened twice that I can remember in the history of my adult reading – Casual Vacancy JK Rowling and Fifty Shades EL James (Cue gasp!). And yes, I am aware the first is on the list for this year, and the second was on the list last year I believe!).
Sometimes it happens if I just don’t have enough time to get through any reasonable chunks of a book so struggle to immerse myself in it.
Sometimes, let’s face it, I’m so tired and there is just another episode of House of Cards that I simply must watch (Yes, I am partial to a little TV when time permits!)
Most recently it happened because I went on a Dymocks spree and purchased quite a few self-improvement books. Having finished one, I just didn’t feel like bettering myself in quick succession, so I returned to an old favourite.
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) (No. 23 on the list)
This is the book I can safely start anywhere I like and be immersed instantly. I’ve lost count of the number of re-reads as a result of the ease of escaping into the world of the Bennetts.
It is much more than a story about girls marrying well to secure their future, support their sisters and live a happy life (as their father’s fortune is entailed away from them). It has so many big themes of feminism, independence, changes in social propriety, the implications of quick judgements and ignorance.
However it is not the serious themes that draw me back. It is the fact that, every time I read this, I find myself either giggling out loud, or swooning in my seat. Either at the ridiculousness of the circumstances the girls often find themselves in and the individual quirky characteristics of the sisters (and Mrs Bennett, who provide comic relief in her lack of self-awareness and crudeness in all conversations in particular).
Or the incredibly romantic phrases from Mr Darcy (even though he is at great pains to appear disinterested at all times!) His entire demeanour is to convince that he is indifferent to those who court his affections however he falls in the most monumental of ways, for Lizzie (despite earlier in the book affirming her to be rather ‘plain’) (Sorry for the spoiler alert here, but if you haven’t read this and don’t know the story, then stop reading this and go get a copy!!).
Despite being set in such a different time, some of the most memorable lines (like the below), still ring true:
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice
The entire language that she uses in the book, in fact, is romantic. She uses words you would almost never hear in every day conversation today. In fact (since I’m going to be honest), most of them I didn’t even know what they meant. So in reading this, I learn, feel smarter and expand my vocab in the process! Words like felicitous, caprice, and affectation just to name a few. Modern English seems so rushed compared with the amount of time Austen spends on conversation. It’s romantic, relaxing and provides a suitable haven to escape into to remind myself why I love reading.