Emz’s Library: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

Horror writing month – reference books.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool
From fox hunting to whist- the facts of daily life in 19th century England

whatjaneaustenatecoverartThis is by far the most helpful book I’ve ever bought in regards to 19th century England. I borrowed this book from a friend before I even had access to the internet. I borrowed it for so long, I was ashamed, returned it, and bought my own. There are just some books that are too valuable to borrow or loan from the library and this is one of them. Not only has it helped me understand the time period and write truer accounts, it’s become a valuable source of understanding the everyday life of the age. Even if you aren’t a writer, this book is interesting.

There is a glossary in back which gives you more than what a dictionary can give. Not only what the word means, but what the word meant (what significance it held) in that time period.

The book also has extensive explanations about occupations and classes, games and leisure activity, and the subject I’ve used it most for, currency and titles. Nowadays you can surely get a lot of this stuff online, but how many hours searching would you have to do before you found it all and how can you be sure it’s as accurate as a fact checked book such as this?

As a reader, I especially liked all the game descriptions and glossary. When first reading Jane Austen’s and Dickens’ works, there are many things I wanted to know more about. I wish I’d had such a book to help me understand the culture before I was fully versed as we are now with all the movies in the genre.

This is definitely my number one book in my authors reference shelf.

How did you start reading?

Did you all get books, eBooks, or audiobooks for holiday gifts? I did and can’t wait to rip into them, which got me thinking about how I started reading.

I always loved to read, I was good at it and it was one school subject I could always excel in. I don’t think I would have got into the habit of reading so many books if my parents didn’t start a contest where I would get a penny for every book I read in a year. I remember always striving for a 100 so I would get a dollar. I usually surpassed it, but they quickly put a cap of $1.00 on it. I also remember in Alaska, I had access to a thrift store and was allowed to get any five books I wanted and then switch  them back out when I finished them. Being a poor kid, this was a definite perk! I would stay up late reading because it was light all night during a lot of the year. We had these thick shades over the windows to keep out the light, but I kept mine cracked open a little so I could read all night. I remember being so sad when winter started and it started getting dark all day cause then I would have to try and sneak a flashlight!

The_Outsiders_book

That Was Then This is Now

I don’t remember the name of my first book love, but it was a gothic romance with a picture of a stormy sea, lighthouse, and haunting woman on a cliff. Even though I wasn’t a horror addict then, that sort of dark romance was always a draw to me. I do, however, remember my favorite adolescent series was by S. E. Hinton. The Outsiders; That was Then, This is Now; and Rumblefish were my favorite books in junior high. I wanted to know kids like Ponyboy and Sodapop. I think Ponyboy was my first crush – even though he was just a book character. I didn’t see the movie until I was an adult and even though I enjoyed it, it didn’t come close to the feeling I had reading the book for the first time. The fact that the books had character cross-over was a plus.

728541n11862This love affair with books continued and I have been so wrapped up in a book storyline that I think of it while I’m not reading. Some of my favorite characters feel more like family members or friends rather than fictitious people. In college, I connected with many of Anne Rice’s characters, but when Marcel’s heart gets ripped out by his father’s betrayal in Feast of all Saints, I felt like it was my heart breaking.  Her Cry to Heaven actually had me crying on a city bus as I read. Andrew Neiderman’s Bloodchild entertained me to no end and Poppy Z. Brite’s Drawing Blood made me have the most glorious nightmares. These are just pinpoints in my life that have been changed by authors.

I asked how our Horror Addicts started reading, and here are some of the answers:

David Watson: I remember my mom taking me to library story time as a kid and always having a stack of books for me when it was done. The books I was drawn to the most were always horror, baseball, and superheroes. I’m pretty sure the first adult horror novel I read was Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.

A.d. Vick: Hmm…I’m not sure what inspired me to start reading, but I do know that I could read a few words before I started school. I don’t remember all the authors I read, but I was into a lot of sci-fi as well as nonfiction.

Kristin Battestella: My dad was building this giant custom entertainment unit, so all the books meant for the future bookshelves were piled in the corner while he worked. There was a set of those big old-fashioned leather bound volumes of classics, and I used to just make forts out of them and build myself in and pick a book off the top and start reading. Some I remember being so disgruntled with at the time. Like what, Jane Eyre isn’t a scary story after all! Paradise Lost ugh, but The Twain, Shakespeare, Poe, Dickens, wow. But primarily, I had a lot of books to play with. I think that inspired me to a life of readership. I don’t really believe in this new tablets for toddlers stuff. I think children should be surrounded by tangibly intangibly things, if that makes sense, not pressing some buttons.

Murdo Morrison: Family lore has it that I was reading before I went to school. I don’t know if that is true but I have been reading since I was a small child. My father, who was not particularly bookish, did bring me books and comics so he was also an influence. For a working class kid though the public library was a great resource. I think you had to be ten to graduate from the children’s section and I couldn’t wait. I have always been an ecletic (and voracious) reader. I was one of those kids who read under the covers with a flashlight. In the summers, when school was out, if I got interested in a book I might read it until dawn came or I finished it, whichever came first. A lot of what I read back then, old classics, are probably not much read by young people today. Today my interests lie more at the non-fiction end of the spectrum, particularly history and science, but I also like biographies.

Steven Rose Jr.:  When I would check out ghost story anthologies at my grammar school’s library or the public library when I was about 8 or 9.

So how did you start reading? What interested you? What is your favorite memory of reading as a child? What author inspired you to read their whole series? What story did you read years ago that has become a part of your belief system, your way of looking at the world? Please share in the comments below, we want to know.