January 31, 2013

"I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

In honor of my week celebrating Pride and Prejudice, I think you should know exactly how much I love this book. So, I'm now confessing to the fact that I actually collect copies of Pride and Prejudice. From places I've visited, stores I've wandered through, cities I've lived... I just can't resist picking up a pretty copy whenever I see new one. Here's my collection in all of its glory:


My collection started off innocently enough. I had one or two copies of Pride and Prejudice, but I fell in love one day with a copy that just had been released. It had a new cover that was so much prettier than the one I owned, and so of course I needed to get it. And then there was another new copy, and that one was pretty, too. And it slowly evolved into a thing. I looked around one day and realized I had essentially started collecting copies of Pride and Prejudice. So I just went with it. (Pssst - doesn't that make my title practically perfect?)

Here's the thing - you know how you can love a book for reasons beyond the story inside? There's this connection with a book that ties you to the time in your life when you were reading it. Or maybe the place you were when you fell into its pagse. It's one of the reasons that I often find it hard to give books away. Not because I want to own ALL THE BOOKS (although that would be nice) but because there is an emotional attachment to the book.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the very first books I felt that connection with, and it's had a special place in my heart ever since. I won't go through my whole collection (because that would clearly be boring), but I am going to take a minute to get sentimental about some of my favorite copies.

Books have a history. A reader can travel far in the pages of a book, but a book also takes a journey and travels with its reader. When the right book comes along, the story becomes a part of its reader and comes alive in the heart. Pride and Prejudice has been one of those books for me.

My Oldest Copies
The Great Illustrated Classics Pride and Prejudice was my first experience with the book. If you aren't familiar with these versions, they are illustrated, abridged and basically re-written for children. It gave me an appetite for more - my first taste of Austen and the start of a lifelong love with her work.

I then picked out this book one day while I was at Barnes and Noble with a friend. Her mom told us that she would get us a both a book, and I believe she tried to dissuade me from picking this book because she thought it might be too difficult for me. I persisted and the rest, as they say, is history.

My Favorite Inside
The summer after my sophomore year of college, I studied abroad in Oxford, England. The classes were more difficult than I had expected, so I didn't travel nearly as much as I expected. However, I did make time to visit Bath so that I could explore the Jane Austen Museum. I find it ironic that the Austen museum is in a city she so disliked living in, but I had to visit all the same.

I picked up this copy in the gift shop, which is the version illustrated by Hugh Thomson. He was a popular and successful book illustrator in the Victorian era, and his 160 drawings were printed in a copy of Pride and Prejudice that was published in 1894. The illustrations, at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the novel, are charming and delightful. Obviously mine is a reissue of the the 1894 version - not an original to that time. This is a copy that I love because of the place where I got it - and because the illustrations are amazing!

Most Sentimental Value
These may have the most unfortunate covers, but they also have the most sentimental value. My husband sometimes has to travel for his job, and he spent a few weeks in Japan at one point last year. He asked the translator with them to write down Pride and Prejudice in Japanese on a little slip of paper. He then took that slip of paper with him all over the city - visiting bookstores and trying to find me another copy for my collection. He gave me the two-volume copy when he got home, and I've never been so happy to have married a man who understands the way to my heart.

All Around Favorite
Finally, I have to end with my all-around favorite. It has the most gorgeous cover, and I could spend hours lost inside its page. It's an annotated edition, and I never realized how much fun it can be to see all the depth you never knew existed in a beloved novel. I thought it might annoy me to have annotations inside, but I actually find it fascinating. There is such a richness to learning more about things like certain phrases and customs mentioned in the book. 

So, there's a little mini-trip through my collection. While others probably don't collect Pride and Prejudice, I'd love to know if you've ever collected copies of a certain book or if there are there certain books you could never get rid of because of your attachment to them. Please tell I'm the only crazy collector out there!

27 comments:

  1. I have very specific memories of where/when I've read certain books. Oftentimes these stick with me better than the book itself! I don't have any particular book I specifically collect, but I like having physical copies of the books I've read (I just don't think I can ever go e-book!)

    I'm sad to say I haven't actually read Pride & Prejudice yet, but I'm determined that this will be the year! I have that gorgeous illustrated copy and your posts this week have made me really excited to finally read this classic novel :)

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    1. Yeah, I think the memory of reading a book can often endure longer than your memory of what actually happened in a book! I love physical copies, too. I do have an e-reader and love it for a lot of reasons, but I do buy hard copies of the books I read on there and end up loving!

      YAY! Hope you really do read it this year! And then you can come tell me your thoughts :)

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  2. I absolutely LOVE this post! (And your collection is amazing. So many pretty books!) I absolutely agree with this part of your post:

    "Books have a history. A reader can travel far in the pages of a book, but a book also takes a journey and travels with its reader. When the right book comes along, the story becomes a part of its reader and comes alive in the heart."

    That is all.

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    1. Thanks Alexa! Glad you don't think I'm crazy for my collection :)

      And glad you liked that part of my post! You're so kind!

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  3. I love this post so much, Hannah. I know exactly what you mean about collecting a certain book because of attachment to it and it just kind of happens. I collect editions of To Kill A Mockingbird, I only have four so far, but it's a collection that keeps expanding.

    ALSO, the bit about your husband is so utterly sweet. Clearly you are with the exact right person for you. <3333

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    1. Glad you understand how the collection has grown! And oh, I love To Kill a Mockingbird - such an incredible book to collect!

      Yeah, he's a sweetheart! Definitely the perfect man for me :)

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  4. Oh my gosh, that it awesome! I have only 5 copies of P&P, but my mother keeps telling me it's too many. And I always have to force myself to NOT buy more copies. I am glad I'm not the only one :)

    Seriously, there is nothing better than Pride and Prejudice.

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    1. Haha well now you can show her my post and tell that five copies is nothing comparatively! You're definitely not the only one :)

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  5. Some of those copies look absolutely stunning. I don't really collect editions of books, but I would if I had the funds to do so! I just can't justify to myself buying pretty editions when that money can go to a book I down own or haven't read yet. There are books I could never get rid of though because of attachments. I mean, most of them are really great books anyway and I wouldn't want to get rid of them, but there's a few that mean much more to me than just the words on the pages. I measure my memories mostly by the books I was reading at the time and the songs I was listening to.

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    1. I hear you! I try not to spend too much on books, but it doesn't bother me buying multiple copies because I own a lot of books I still haven't read so it's not like I need to be buying more "haven't read" books either haha :) Yeah, I definitely have books (besides P&P) that I'll never get rid of because of the attachment to them! Love that your memories are often associated with what book you were reading at the time :) So cool!

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  6. like everyone else, LOVE this post! omg I totally remember the Great Illustrated Classics editions and thinking I read the actual book when I was younger, haha. I think it's so sweet your husband went around to look for a copy in Japan and that is certainly an interesting cover. your collection is amazing and I love the stories you told about them. thank you so much for sharing. :D

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    1. Haha yeah I was shocked to discover I hadn't actually read the real classic! I definitely thought it was the real thing. Glad you love the post! And yes, the Japan covers are... interesting. That's a nice word for it :)

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  7. This is one of the reasons I adore you so much.

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  8. Oh my goodness, you have such an INCREDIBLE collection! You made me want to buy many, many copies as well. I have one in Dutch, but reading it is not the same as reading it in English. But I WILL buy it eventually :) And what your husband did was so incredibly sweet! You're lucky ;) I don't have an actual collection of one particular book, but I have the Harry Potter series in Dutch and English, including all the novellas, and I also have two copies of all John Green's books (all in English haha) because I LOVE them so much! Lovely post :)

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    1. Thanks Judith! And yes, my husband is a sweetheart. Definitely picked a good one :)

      Oh girl, I only read Harry Potter at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 and I somehow now own paperback copies, hardcover copies and a number of them as ebooks. Oops! Haha :)

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  9. Hannah, I love love love this post. I love that you fell into this without even realizing what was happening, and I totally know what you mean about the connection you can have to a book. They're all so gorgeous! Teehee, I had a HUGE collection of illustrated classics as a kid, though I never had this one.

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    1. Thanks Heidi! Glad you like how I was completely caught off guard by my growing collection :) And yay illustrated classics! What a great way to introduce kiddies to fabulous reading!

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  10. Oh gosh. Some of those copies make me want to go out and hunt them down! LOVE! I only have one hard copy and one e version but I LOVE the cover for my book! I want to go out and buy some other copies too!

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    1. Haha oh no! Sorry I'm making you want to spend some money :) But I'm not sorry that it make you want more of P&P! WIN!

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  11. I LOVE this post, oh my gosh, your collection is amazing!! They are all so pretty! I kind of do this with The Book Thief but it's always the same cover. I own only two copies but I always have to tell myself not to buy it because when I see it sitting on the Half Price Book shelf all alone I just feel so bad because the book is SO GOOD I don't want to leave it alone! Weird? lol

    And this is one of the most amazing things ever!!-->"Books have a history. A reader can travel far in the pages of a book, but a book also takes a journey and travels with its reader. When the right book comes along, the story becomes a part of its reader and comes alive in the heart."

    So true...so true :)

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    1. Haha thanks girl! Glad you think my collection is amazing and not ridiculous :) Aww, I love that you do this with The Book Thief! And that you just keep buying copies because you don't want to leave them alone. That's hilarious! Do you keep them all or do you gift them to people sometimes?!

      And thanks so much :) Glad you loved what I wrote - that means a lot!

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  12. Oh. My. Gosh. I almost died when I found this post of yours. I collect Pride and Prejudice myself and have for a while now (I have over twenty copies...I think), and I was SO excited to see someone else with such a love for this book! Seeing what books some people collect is one of my favorite things, and this book definitely has a special place in my heart because it is the first adult classic that I ever read front to back. I have many of the copies you have but I'm most jealous of the one you have by Dover. I WANT IT!!! *cry face* where can I find it??? Haha :) Nerd problems.

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    1. Ahhh I love that you're so excited about this post AND that you also collect Pride and Prejudice. Seriously, it makes me so happy. So excited you found my blog and this post :)

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  13. Possibly the most silly question ever, but how is there such a difference in the thickness of these books????

    Fabulous collection though!!! R x

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  14. do you have another post or other pictures of the books that you didn't show fully in this post? i am a collector as well, and i want to know more about the one underneath the purple barnes and noble one, and the very bottom one underneath the white fine edition - which by the way, if you ever wanted to sell that, hit me up as i cry myself to sleep at night about how much i want that one!

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  15. I love Jane Austen too. I have two copies of Jane Eyre

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