Today would have been Jane Austen’s 240th birthday. More than two hundred years since her novels first reached readers, her stories have remained powerful and popular. Full of timeless wisdom, Austen’s classics have made her one of the most celebrated authors of English literature.
But what are some of the books that would inspire Austen if she was reading today? Below find six favorites that would surely be on Jane’s “to read” list.
Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior
“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” – Elizabeth Bennett, Pride & Prejudice
The characteristics of Hannah More can easily be found in Austen’s most famous heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, or even Austen herself. A woman of exceptional intellectual gifts and literary talent, Hannah More, just ten years older than Austen, was above all a person whose faith compelled her both to engage her culture and to transform it. Fierce Convictions is the enthralling biography of a woman writer who helped end the slave trade, changed Britain’s upper classes, and taught a nation how to read.
Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequest
“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.” – Persuasion
Shauna Niequist’s Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. A celebration of food shared, Niequist reminds readers of the value the community and connection of family and friends around the table, whether at their home or at the estates of Mansfield Park or Kellynch Hall. Meals are the way God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.
With wonderful recipes that could easy land on the Dashwood family table from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals from a simpler time that come to life in Bread & Wine.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.” – Emma
In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted…a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved–by God. Let Ann’s beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!
Devotions from the Garden: Finding Peace and Rest in Your Busy Life by Miriam Drennan
“To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” — Mansfield Park
Many of Austen’s most romantic scenes take place amongst the beauty of the outdoors. There’s nothing on earth like the peace and loveliness of a magnificent garden. Devotions from the Garden takes you to that place where senses are restored as dewdrops settle and butterflies gather to witness the miracles of God’s creation bloom and grow. Ninety devotions explore the parallels of life with the elements of the garden to help you see God, to sense His presence, to soothe your soul, and to rest in knowing He is with you throughout each day.
Lizzy & Jane and Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” – Northanger Abbey
“Let other pens dwell on pain and misery.” – Jane Austen
Many of Austen’s beloved characters continue to inspire authors today. Katherine Reay’s Lizzy & Jane and Dear Mr. Knightley share a new voice for some of the best-known names in all of Austen lore. Reay’s lead characters struggle through the trials of modern day – cancer, abandonment, conflicting families, and secret love – but all paths encourage them to be the people they were meant to become. Not a continuation of the original stories or retelling in modern form, Reay’s writing is inspired by Austen’s themes and characters that have endured the test of time.
Jane Austen’s novels are eternally popular because of their universal themes of love, money and class and their happy endings. What do you think Jane would read today? If you’re a Jane Austen fan, or just a lover of great reads, we invite you to check out our special offers today on the books mentioned above, in addition to two great books for every Jane-ite: the biography Jane Austen: Christian Encounters Series and the elegant cloth-bound A Jane Austen Devotional, offering more than 100 devotions and scripture selections based on excerpts from Austen’s novels and applied lessons about faith.
Happy Birthday Jane! Share your thoughts and comments on today’s post on our blog.
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