“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!” — Jane Austen
I feel you, Jane, and I completely agree. Yet here we are, at the start of the second month of 2021, and I’ve not made much of a dent in my TBR piles (I have two: JAFF/Austenesque and non-JAFF/Austenesque). In fact, both of my TBR piles have mostly been gathering dust since 2019; I’ve done very little reading. And yet, I keep adding to them. Did you know that the Japanese actually have a term for this? It’s called tsundoku, which roughly translates to “collecting books you’ll never read.” And while it may sound like a bad habit, it’s not used in a negative or mocking manner, because the understanding is that there’s an intention, at least, to read the books.
“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.” — A. Edward Newton
If I counted all the books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, I’m fairly certain the number of unread novels would outnumber the novels read. On the one hand, that’s a little bit pathetic… But on the other hand, it gives me something to look forward to! My Kindle and shelves are full of potential and the promise of excessive diversion, ready to be tapped into at any given moment.
The fact that my piles are growing and remain largely untouched is completely my fault, and don’t let my piles fool you…they know it, and they’re not happy about it. They’re stalking me. They’re feeling neglected and unloved. But in my defense, I went from editing/releasing Sanctuary – which consumed most of my 2020 – straight into editing An Unexpected Harvest, which will easily eat up the first half of 2021.
I’m not sure about other authors, but I find it difficult to read new (to me) JAFF stories when I’m writing or editing my own; I find it too distracting. And I also have the bad habit of comparing my writing to that of other authors, and I’m frequently on the losing end when the happens… So when I’m writing or editing but in need of a little “JAFF jolt,” I tend to return to old, familiar favorites, a few of which are listed below.
First is Imperative, by Linda Wells. This is not just a book, it’s a saga. I especially love Linda’s incarnation of Darcy and the way she starts off the story with a pretty decisive action from him. The reader is immediately sucked in…right alongside Elizabeth. Son of a Preacher Man, by Karen M. Cox, has been a longtime favorite of mine. There’s just something about Billy Ray Davenport’s narration of the story that pulls me in—I can clearly hear his voice, that drawl, as I read along. His love story with Lizzie Quinlan is so pure and sweet; it’s a coming of age tale that should not be missed. A Marriage of True Affection, by Jodi L. Covey, gives detailed glimpses/vignettes into the Darcys’ marriage, from their first morning as husband and wife and first few days of wedded bliss through the births of their children and other momentous—but not always happy—events. It’s wonderfully written and illustrates the intense love and passion (scorching hot) that exists between Darcy and Elizabeth. I love the way the author works in some details from Pride and Prejudice (along with some that Austen never would have imagined), but from her Darcy & Elizabeth’s points of view.
Even though I avoid reading new JAFFs while I write/edit, it doesn’t mean I avoid reading altogether! Here are some of my non-JAFF reads from 2020:
Floating Twigs, by Charles Tabb. Another coming of age tale that I came across in a bizarre way; someone had written a less than glowing review of Sanctuary and had mentioned this novel as one they loved, and so I thought, why not check it out? I enjoyed the story and the author’s writing style very much. Seven Years to Sin, by Sylvia Day, is a *steamy* historical romance that a friend recommended. I enjoyed it and will definitely read other HRs from her. Persuasion, by our girl Jane Austen, is one I re-read because one of the contemporary variations I’m “writing” (using the term very loosely) feels a bit more Persuasion-ish than P&P-ish… It remains to be seen if Darcy and Elizabeth will morph into Wentworth and Anne! Finally, I’m currently reading a wonderful novel called The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. I first learned of this book through Goodreads, and the premise sounded different and interesting. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I love it already.
So what’s next in my JAFF TBR pile (which I hope to dig into over the summer)? These new-ish Pride & Prejudice variations are perched at the top of my long list: Nine Ladies, by Heather Moll; Married in Haste, by A.K. Madison; The Price of Pride, by Abigail Reynolds; and Sons of Pemberley, by Elizabeth Adams. I’m also looking forward to The Year In Between, a recently released Sense & Sensibility variation by Christina Moreland. And there are new releases coming soon from Jan Ashton and Mary Smythe!
Oddly, with the exception of Nine Ladies, which involves time travel and is a mix of Regency and contemporary eras, all of the stories listed above are Regency-era stories. What does this signify, you ask? Well, I think it shows that the JAFF community is in dire need of a new contemporary Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel to add to their bookshelves. *rubs hands together gleefully*
So now that I’ve rambled on about my TBR piles… What about you? What are you reading? Is there anything I absolutely must add, JAFF or non-JAFF, to my TBR piles? What do you recommend? Please drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Have a wonderful February, and happy reading!