Among the Janeites by Deborah Yaffe
Among the Janeites’ title is a bit misleading. It suggests a non-Janeite journeying forth to explore the alien world of the Janeites, recalling both the microgenre of year-long experiments and mainstream media rubbernecking at the strange habits of fans. Neither are particularly my cup of tea. Much to my relief, when author Deborah Yaffe says she is among the Janeites, she’s simply counting herself as one of them. She’s a literally card-carrying Janeite, having a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (or JASNA) since 1974. In her almost forty years in the fandom, she’s seen Austen go from obscure but beloved writer to a commercialized pop cultural touchpoint.
The Best American Essays edited by David Brooks
Have you guys heard of Longreads? If you haven’t, it’s a website that aggregates the “best” (I use quotation marks to denote the subjectivity of this claim, not to be sarcastic) long-form stories on the Internet. While they do highlight fiction, I’m much more interested in the nonfiction essays. Between Longreads and Autostraddle’s fantastic feature “Things I Read That I Love”, I’ve come to love and adore the essay over the past year, so it was really a no-brainer to pick up The Best American Essays 2012 when I saw it on the new shelf at my home library. I usually don’t pick up collections like this, but I thought it would be a nice thing to peruse over the holidays.
The Street by Ann Petry
The Street is a text that’s been dogging my steps this semester; obviously, it’s reading for this class, but a classmate of mine in my senior thesis class is doing an utterly amazing project comparing, essentially, The Street with The Help. The Help, as a phenomenon, utterly passed me by; I had little interest in reading it, and the discussion surrounding the film adaptation and its treatment of black women turned me off completely. I can’t speak to the quality of the book, but yet another text with a white savior doesn’t exactly appeal to me. So The Street started representing the truth behind The Help to me.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Towards the end of the summer, I discovered a new thrift store in my hometown, one that was part of a block of stores managed by a local church. It was enormous, although it didn’t yield up any new corner pieces for my bursting at the seams Tolkien collection. But it did have books, and I found a copy of Fun Home there for fifty cents. Finding a memoir that deals frankly with queer sexuality in a church thrift store was a funny juxtaposition to me, although, for all I know, that particular denomination is a-okay with queer folk. (Being Georgia, I sincerely doubt it.) So I essentially picked it up for a lark, but got so much more.
The Far Traveler by Nancy Marie Brown
Weirdly, one of the places that I get book recommendations from is Richard’s Variety Store, a truly eclectic little place that can be found in Atlanta. The Far Traveler came to me that way, because I would ordinarily never run across it, which is one of the reasons I like Richard’s so much.