Jane and John in June

What do Jane Austen and John Green have in common?  Well, for starters, their names form a lovely consonant rhythm when added to the month of June.  That rhythm may have been the driving force behind my reading project for the next few weeks.  As a former English major, I should probably make up a more intelligent reason, such as my plan to focus on the generational differences in their portrayals of youth, love, and personhood.  Or maybe I should mention that I think both authors have a phenomenal grasp on characterization.  But if I’m honest, it’s all about the consonance for me.

These guys clearly look like best buds to me.

These guys clearly look like best buds to me.

After I had this burst of poetic title-making, I sat down to really consider how I could incorporate both authors into my reading plans.  Jane Austen has six or so novels in her opus (depending on if you count pieces such as Lady Susan), and John Green has a solid five.  Prior to this June, I’ve read two of John’s (we’re on a first name basis, for the sake of alliteration) novels, and a whopping one of Jane’s books.  However, I still know more about Jane’s work than John’s, thanks to an endless supply of PBS and BBC in my childhood.  But awareness of plot aside, I had no causal links for reading either author in any order besides chronological.

That’s when I said screw detailed planning, let’s just start reading!

So I downloaded Paper Towns to my Kindle and cracked up Austen’s collected works to page one, which happened to be Sense and Sensibility.  I’m currently knee-deep in both books.  My soul is struggling between a deep affinity with Elinor Dashwood and a desire to follow Margo Roth Spiegelman’s trail from Orlando to beyond.  Some sort of strange battle of wills occurs every time I switch from one book to the other; it reminds me of when you have two delicious foods on your plate (let’s go with Gouda cheese and dark chocolate) and you can’t decide what flavor you want lingering in your mouth at the end.  Randomly pairing two wildly popular authors and searching for arbitrary comparisons is a refreshing experience.  I feel like my literary-thinking muscles are getting an excellent work out.

Because I am an incorrigible scheduler, I did have to make myself some sort of plan for the month!  Every Monday, I’ll post about my reading experience for the previous week.  Every Friday, I’ll figure out some fun way to entertain you, whether it be with factoids from their lives, coincidental parallels I draw between Jane and John, or maybe even a parody dialogue between universes – who knows!  We’ll just call Fridays a wildcard and leave it at that.

Week One: Paper Towns and Sense and Sensibility
Week Two: An Abundance of Katherines and Northanger Abbey (insert sly wink here)
Week Three: Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Mansfield Park
Week Four: Looking for Alaska and Emma

Care to join me in my month-long excursion? Do you have any favorites among the books by Jane or John?

  • First of all, congratulations on the big move to self-hosted! You made it look so much easier than I remember it being. 🙂

    I think it’s absolutely crazy that we both were reading Paper Towns at the same time and didn’t even realize it. Sense and Sensibility isn’t my favorite of Austen’s novels, but it was the first one she ever published, so I guess I should cut her some slack. Part of me thinks I”m crazy for saying this, but I will definitely be joining you on your journey (even if I only make it through half the books).

    And you’re right; it’s all about the consonance!

    • Sarah Elise

      Thank you! Secretly, there’s still much work to be done, but I figured I would let future Sarah worry about those things!

      I agree – we’ve probably just developed some sort of reading telepathy. Bibliotelepathy, perhaps?

      Sense and Sensibility has thus far been interesting, though the word “approbation” has appeared far too many times. I don’t think it’s going to rank in my top three, but you’re right, as her first published book, it’s probably not her best work.

      I’m so glad you’re joining! Since you’ve already read all of Austen’s works, you can definitely cheat and just skim them if you’d like 🙂