I have the unfortunate task of following a wonderful post from Kay yesterday, an ode to Pride & Prejudice Christmas style. I also have a confession to make: I have never read P&P (or anything by Jane Austen), Virginia Woolf, Margaret Mitchell, or the Bronte sisters for that matter.
It’s not that I didn’t read growing up. On the contrary. I read so much that my third grade teachers were forever confiscating the books I would cleverly try to hide (and read) in class. These consisted primarily of a series of childhood historical biographies of famous Americans like Jane Adams and Sacagawea and Helen Keller (the third grade librarian turned me on to this series and I devoured it).
As I grew older, my love of reading grew, too. In addition to biographies, which I continued to read, my tastes expanded to include adventures stories, mysteries (Nancy Drew!), and anything that featured horses (National Velvet, Black Beauty!). I’d heard about the “classics” but had no interest in reading books I saw as an instrument of torture for English teachers around the globe.
At some point that changed, of course. I’ve read Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers, SE Hinton’s Outsiders (thought she was a he), and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. And since McD, I’ve blown through the modern romance masters: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Loretta Chase, among others. But I’ve continued to shy away from “THE CLASSICS” thinking them slow, dull, boring. I wanted to read for fun, not to enrich my mind (Heaven forbid).
Then yesterday, Kay posted “Twas Daybreak on Christmas” and I realized what I’d been missing. The classics were the fun stuff.
My mother (wise women that she was) voiced one regret as her life winded down, and it was this: “So many books, so little time.” She came to reading late, too busy being a wife and mother to five children to have time to read. Once the kids were raised she discovered the pleasures of reading, but by then her time was limited in a different way. Still, she’d managed to read voraciously and well. I treasure her copy of Jane Austen’s “Emma”.
I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions but this year I’m making an exception. I resolve to read one classic (female) author a month. Making a resolution is easy, keeping it ( and compiling the list is much harder). A varied number of “best” lists abound on the internet, but everyone seems to agree on these authors:
- Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen
- Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
- Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
- Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
- Life & Loves of a She-Devil, Fay Weldon
- Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
- The Color Purple, Alice Walker
- Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier
- Cotillion, Georgette Heyer
- Bleak House, Charles Dickens
(Additional recommendations in pink).
Help me round out this list by recommending your favorite women author (and their must-read book).
Have a safe and joyous New Year!