Please join me on May 21 at 2 PM at the Sierra Madre Public Library for a fun-filled afternoon. I'll be talking about Austen's timeless appeal and the genesis of my two Austen-inspired novels. Which could be considered semi-autobiographical, if they did not involve time travel and body-switching.
Hope to see you there! That's 2 PM, May 21. In whichever century you like.
Jane Austen wrote the HISTORY OF ENGLAND when she was only 15 years old. It is "a lively parody that makes fun of the popular schoolroom books of the time."
There are many other manuscripts in the British Library's collection that have this feature, including ALICE'S ADVENTURES UNDER GROUND and Mozart's diary; scroll down the page for the Austen manuscript.
Many thanks to my friend Glenn Lambert for alerting me to this! What a perfect gift for National Library Week!
I've said before on this blog (and to anyone who'll listen),
librarians are my heroes. That's because libraries were the sanctuary of my
childhood. Growing up in a home with few books, libraries were magical places that
opened doors to unimaginable worlds. I always left the library and bookmobile
with armloads of books that I devoured. And there were always more. For a kid
like me, it was absolute heaven.
Today, I have the honor of meeting librarians all the time—through
the research I do for my books, through readings and talks that I give at
libraries, and through the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), of
which I am a Life Member. Not surprisingly, JASNA attracts people who love books—go
to any JASNA meeting, and you're sure to meet librarians, educators, writers, and
avid readers of all professions.
One of my favorite JASNA friends is Paula Dacker, a high school
librarian whose enthusiasm for Austen is only exceeded by her passion for
turning her students into avid readers. "Ask me if there's anything you
don't understand," she tells her kids when they check out PRIDE AND
PREJUDICE, or any of Austen's novels. "I'll explain it to you."
But Paula's no Austen purist. From my Austen Addict books (she made my day by sending me the pictures below) to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, if kids are reading, that's a good thing. At our JASNA reading group's annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea
last week, Paula was telling our group about a boy who checked out PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES from her high school library. How did he hear about it? she
asked, to which he said that some of his friends were talking about the book,
and it made him want to read it.
"Boys talking about books," said Paula, glowing
with pride. "It doesn't get any better than that."
Librarians. They don't get any better than Paula Dacker.
[Students of Charter Oak High School, where Paula is a librarian.]
Many people are surprised when I tell them that I grew up in a house with only a handful of books. Neither of my parents were readers—my mother has, in recent years become a voracious reader—but luckily back then there were three ways by which I was able to indulge my incessant need for books: the bookmobile that visited my neighborhood, the library bus that took me to my local public library, and my school library.
[Two kinds of bookmobiles: One from the Meridian Library in Meridian, Idaho; and the other from the Camel Book Drive in Kenya. For more information about the wonderful Camel Book Drive,* and to see how you can help, click here.
For me, the library was a magical place where smiling ladies handed me the keys to endless doors that opened onto exciting new worlds and infinite possibilities. Libraries were the place where I discovered the sanctuary of story. The wonder of imagination. The power of the word.
Were it not for libraries and librarians, I would not be who I am today. Which is why I will always be grateful to librarians, library support staff, and all the generous folks who support these sanctuaries and champions of reading.
And so I am particularly excited to be doing a reading and signing of RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT at Glendale Public Library. This is a particularly vibrant, exciting place with lots of community events and a dynamic staff whose mission is "to enrich life, foster literacy, inspire intellectual curiosity and stimulate the imagination."
And they're also a lot of fun.
So take a break from the heat and have a glass of iced tea with me at Glendale Public Library. I look forward to seeing you there!