Somehow (though I couldn’t really tell you how) I made it through the month of June. Here on the blog, I’ve talked about all the reading I’ve done (Jane Austen and John Green all June!). But I’ve also a) found and moved into a new rental b) been to Philadelphia and back and c) juggled my day job and work as a student. It’s been one of the longest and most stressful months of the year while simultaneously being one of the most interesting and successful. Hooray for contrasts!
When I started planning out Jane and John in June, I had nothing in mind except how awesome I thought the title was. I mentioned I’m a fan of consonance, right? I thought so. Anyways! I just had a general idea to read these two authors together, one famous in classics-land, the other a popular contemporary author. I didn’t have any pre-planned connections or any themes I wanted to find. I just wanted to read, and to create a fun, alliterative reading plan for the month.
You can see from the many posts on the two authors that I did find a lot of connections, at least between their literary works. Some characters followed similar plot lines between the two authors. Some emotional themes occurred in each of their stories, over and over again. Some events occurred simultaneously in others. All in all, it was easy to find contrasts between a Jane book and a John book, if I only thought about it for a moment.
So what did I learn, beyond the generic “here’s what I think about these books” spiel? Well, I learned that sometimes it’s important to be polite, while at other times you have to stand up for yourself. I learned that heroes can be introverts. I learned that the language you speak is the language you’ll find easier to read (though a few weeks in a different style of writing will adjust you quickly to similar works). I learned that time is the great equalizer, and that sometimes there is no villain.
I learned that I like to sit in Starbucks with a booklet of paper tabs so that I can mark pages with awesome quotes. I learned that I will carry around giant books in the hopes that I can read just two pages between meetings. I learned that I like to read on paper and on my Kindle pretty equally.
I learned that Jane Austen was an even sassier author than I has believed. I learned that John Green knows exactly how to hone in on the insecurities so many of us share. I learned that there is a book out there for everyone, with a hero just like you, if you just read enough of them. I learned that deadlines make me a faster reader and maybe even a little bit of a faster writer (though probably not a better writer, but at least I keep writing).
I learned that no matter when you exist in time, or in space, or if you’re a prodigy or a penniless waif or the loneliest person in the world, there is a book for you. And if there’s a book for you, that means that there’s at least one other person that Gets It. There’s a character that feels the same things you feel, which means there was likely an author that felt those things (or knew someone that felt those things), too.
Most importantly, I learned that we, as humans, are indomitable. If I ever forget it, I have a month’s work of reading and research to remind me again!