I thought a pandemic would increase my reading, but it has done the opposite. I’ve found myself too distracted, too tired or too pre-occupied with life at home to do much other than collapse onto the couch in the evening. What is slowly drawing me back into the rhythm of regular reading again are audiobooks and rereads.
There’s something comforting and pleasantly familiar about rereading a beloved classic. So I was especially grateful for the free review copy of the Sense and Sensibility edition of a new series by Karen Swallow Prior. In this series of lovely, cloth-bound books, bestselling author and literature professor, guides readers through classics with insightful introductions and vast footnotes. What a good study Bible will do for you as you read Scripture – cultural context, definitions, and thematic clues – Prior’s guide does for reading and reflecting classics.
Even though I’ve read all of Austen’s work multiple times, I appreciated Prior’s educated insights and I especially loved the reflection questions after each volume. What a wonderful addition to my Austen shelf. It would also make a stellar gift for any Austen fan.
Another thing that has helped me stay sane during these surreal times is to surround myself with as much beauty as possible. I especially love each of these editions of Sense and Sensibility.
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I have now read and thoroughly enjoyed another in Karen’s series of classics – Heart of Darkness by Jospeh Conrad. I’m the type of person who enjoyed much of their high school required reading. But Heart of Darkness was among the titles I didn’t appreciate when I read it as a teen. I found it a bit confusing and just too, well, dark. Prior’s insights were so helpful when coming back to this title as an adult. It’s been 16 years since I last read it and I appreciated the background on Conrad’s life, both personal and professional. Prior’s notes and reflection questions were a good guide as I navigated this novel for a second time. It’s still not my favorite classic, but I feel like I at least redeemed my first reading with Prior’s help. It also didn’t hurt that the book was lovely.