Have you heard about #TolstoyTogether? Let’s do #AustenTogether!

Recently, I was listening to an NPR story about a Princeton professor who began a virtual book club with the goal of reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. She expected to have a handful of readers, and was surprised that within a short period of time, it grew to over 3,000 members.

I’ve read War and Peace, over 30 years ago, and I liked it, but I have no interest in reading it again. I then wondered, what author do I love, and what author do I love that might be considered a touchstone for others? The beauty of #TolstoyTogether is that for many people it is a love affair with Tolstoy, and there is pleasure in reading a well-loved novel, but for many others, it is seen as an important and difficult read.  Some people might feel they need a group to help them with what they consider to be a difficult book.

My favorite author is Jane Austen, and I think she fits the bill nicely. Many adore her. We find her funny and incisive and brilliant. Others are afraid of her. They sometimes feel she is beyond them.

My friend Kirsten Komara and I would like to invite you to read Jane Austen’s six completed novels with us. We’ll begin with Northanger Abbey. We are in the constantly delighted by Austen group, and we would love to share our knowledge and joy in her works.

Austen’s chapters are quite short. Our plan is to read 3 chapters a day, and that works out to about 15 pages at a time. At this rate, with Northanger Abbey, we will finish within 2 weeks. Kirsten and I plan on asking each other questions or pointing out interesting passages. We are hoping that other readers will share their take and observations.

How it will work:

Beginning May 11, we will have read the first three chapters of Northanger Abbey.

For people in Cleveland, if you don’t have a copy of the book, it is available as an ebook from Cleveland Public Library. You could also order it from Mac’s Backs or Loganberry Books. And it’s on Project Gutenberg! Totally free!

If you are outside of Cleveland, like say, in Texas, how about supporting your independent bookstore by ordering from Bookshop?

Northanger Abbey is also available free through the Gutenberg Project online.

Questions and thoughts will be posted on Katherine’s Twitter Feed @MysteryPhD; look for hashtag #AustenTogether.

We have no idea if anyone will be interested in joining us—but if you do, and if you have read Northanger Abbey before, please don’t give any spoilers. We will work hard to stay within the parameters of the text we’ve read up to for that day.

We hope that you will join us. We are quite excited to dive back into Austen. She will lift us up and out of our Stay at Home world.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Katherine at kclark904@gmail.com.