Birthday Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“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.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

Every year since 8th grade, I have reread Pride and Prejudice for my birthday “week.” A total of 15 times. Each time I read it, I leave with something new and yet the same comforting feeling of something old and familiar. Pride and Prejudice has guided me through friendships, romances and learning to be an independent person. It has taught me that it is okay to say no, even when your family expects something of you. To say no when someone pushes it on, not believing you the first time due to your gender.

“Really, Mr. Collins,’ cried Elizabeth with some warmth, ‘you puzzle me exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as to convince you of its being one”. – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

I have collected copies of Pride and Prejudice since my first read.  Each copy having different covers, footnotes, and even languages.  I have around 40 copies now; each of which I love something about.  Yet the copy I come back to each time is the the one I read the first time.  Covered in highlighter, chicken scratch and held together with neon pink duct tape, this book is my birthday week companion, and I cannot wait to start it again this today for what I hope is a most excellent year.

 

I will leave you with my favorite quote – one that I need to remind myself of this upcoming year

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” -Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
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James Joyce – an Irish author

James Joyce is not an author everyone wishes to tackle.  Specifically, his work, Ulysses41tv-iswx-l-_sx318_bo1204203200_.  I distinctly remember going to the campus bookstore to pick up my copy of the Ulysses and the assigned book of notes, Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses Revised by Don Gifford and Robert J. Seidman for an English Literature class I was taking for the second year of college. The book of Notes was larger than the book itself. Each sentence Joyce wrote had ten possible meanings. I didn’t know literature could be this complicated. Have this many puzzles. Be this utterly mind-boggling. I had read plenty of the literary canon by then, but this was a first. It took us a month to read the book. A month in which I learned how much more literature could be than mere words on a page.

The book itself has a tumultuous history of getting banned in the United States for obscenity in 1921 until 1933.  The post office burned copies it found. It is considered by many to be one of the most important works in modern history.  Trying to summarize this book is in a chore in itself. The book divided into parts I, II, and III within those three parts are 18 episodes, much like 51xhe7w-pclHomer’s Odyssey is divided into 24 episodes, takes place over a single day, June 16th, 1904, and follows Leopold Bloom as he goes about his day. That is the summary. That is it.

A single day.
One man.
One Irish city.

“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” ― James JoyceUlysses

Ulysses is a book everyone should try to tackle in their lifetime. It will make no sense until it finally does. Though each time you read it, you might just come away thinking the book is about something completely different than the previous read.  Or come away a person with a new perspective on life.  Guaranteed.