So there’s this Jane-Austen-themed reading event floating around 👉👈
Predictably, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make a TBR. For this year’s annual Jane Austen July (Goodreads group here), there are seven strictly optional challenges (five reading, two watching), and I’m going to try to hit them all in one extremely nerdy and ambitious go!
If you’re also participating, be sure to let me know in the comments! And if you need any ideas for the challenges, read on 💕
1. Read one of Jane Austen’s main six novels!
Guess who loves Jane Austen but still hasn’t read Pride and Prejudice 🙄. I’ve watched multiple adaptations, started it twice, and even went to a book club with it unfinished (!!!) but I have yet to actually complete Austen’s most enduring and beloved work. So, this month, instead of me rereading my most adored favorite, Mansfield Park, I’m going to start what seems like the whole world’s favorite, and see if it becomes mine.
2. Read something by Jane Austen that is not one of her six novels!
For this challenge, I’ll be diving into Austen’s epistolary novella Lady Susan (which also happens to be the group read for the second half of July!). Like its positively sparkling film adaptation from 2016, Love and Friendship, it follows a widow who’s looking to pull every string she can to get her and her daughter advantageously married. I love a complicated female lead, and Austen’s trademark irony, obviously, so I think I’ll have fun with this one.
3. Read a non-fiction about Jane Austen or her time!
This is an area in which I’m totally new, so I decided to go with one of the hosts’ recommendations and read What Matters in Jane Austen, a look at Jane Austen’s works by an English professor. With chapters on everything from the use of weather in her novels to how and when she depicts the working class, this book promises to cover a lot of ground and I’m so looking forward to diving in!
4. Read a retelling of a Jane Austen book or a work of historical fiction set in Jane Austen’s time.
Being a historical fantasy, it’s an eccentric choice for this challenge, but Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is set in England during the Napoleonic Wars, so it technically counts! At just over a thousand pages, it’s maybe a bit foolish for a month of challenges, but I’ve wanted to pick it up for ages now, and a girl has to get her fantasy novel in somewhere during a classics readathon!
5. Read a book by a contemporary of Jane Austen!
For this, I’ll be reading Frances Burney’s Camilla, a coming-of-age story set in high society that comes to us from 1796. With Burney said to hold a lot of Austen’s charms, I’m eager to see if I agree––though I’m of course a tad intimidated by the page count 😅. (And by the fact that while I adore the clothes, I find books from the 18th century to be quite daunting.) I have high hopes, but if I truly can’t do it, I’ll just read a play instead: Lovers’ Vows, anyone?
6. Watch an adaptation of one of the books.
Whatever our consensus on that trailer is supposed to be, I WILL be watching the new version of Persuasion on Netflix this month. Besides that, I’m also planning to dip in to a few old favorites: Ang Lee’s marvelous adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, Love and Friendship, the 2020 version of Emma that I’m still totally obsessed with. Needless to say, July will be a very busy month for my Letterboxd.
7. Watch a modern screen adaptation/retelling of a Jane Austen book!
If you haven’t watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube, you should absolutely go do that, but in lieu of a rewatch, I’ve decided to go for Metropolitan, which is a very loose retelling of Mansfield Park set in the New York socialite scene. It’s a more off-the-beaten path choice, but that’s precisely why I’m excited about it: the class dynamics are what I love most about Mansfield Park, and this choice of setting is a great place to re-examine them.
Thank you so much for reading! What are your July reading plans? Austen or no, I’d love to hear anything and everything from you, in the comments 💕