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Friday, April 12, 2013

A Good Year for Jane Austen

I am always intrigued when I see books that take a person (real or fictional) from the past and use that person’s success from their time and relate it to success today. Books like “The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan”, “Winnie-The-Pooh on Management and Problem Solving”, “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” are often fun and thought-provoking.

One of the latest such books focuses on author Jane Austen, a romantic fiction writer of the late 18th and early 19th century; author of “Pride & Prejudice”, “Sense & Sensibility” and other classics. This book, “Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift: An Independent Woman’s Advice on Living Within One’s Means” by English professors Kathleen Anderson and Susan Jones includes lessons such as:

Like Charlotte Lucas in “Pride and Prejudice”, stockpile your pantry with essentials. “Though you may not realize it,” Anderson and Jones write, “last-minute grocery runs for basics ultimately cause you to use more time, energy, and money than necessary.” page 37
Thrift stores are great resources, but be thorough. “Compare options until you know the field,” Anderson and Jones write. Patience is always rewarded in Austen’s world. Anne gets her Wentworth; Fanny gets her Edmund; and Aunt Norris gets her cream cheese.” page 82
When using travel websites such as Kayak or Orbitz, pay extra attention to the cancellation policy. “You don t want to buy a getaway on a tropical island with the Admiral and Mrs. Croft [from “Persuasion”], and then a hurricane hits, and you end up paying for a trip you never got to take!” page 184
Compliment people. “The best placed flattery can result in spontaneous acquisitions,” Anderson and Jones write, “whether an intriguing old recipe book, a pair of Manolo heels, or a set of charming limoges china.” page 206
Since 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of “Pride and Prejudice”, expect more Austen action including, according to the “Wall Street Journal” more than a dozen books about the author, including a new biography, a book that explores her cult status, two studies of Austen-era England and two books about Austen and economics.
If you’re a Jane Austen fan (like my wife; me...not so much) keep your eyes out for books like:
"What Matters in Jane Austen? Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan - exploring Austen's characters' attitudes toward money, sex and other touchy subjects.
"Jane Austen: Game Theorist" by Michael Chwe who suggests that Jane Austen is a strategic analyst and that her plots hinge on game theory (a strategic approach to human interactions that has been deployed by economists and military leaders).
“Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen's Masterpiece” by Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia
Here are links to these books on
source: "Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift" (Berkley Trade);
Bloomberg Businessweek 4/8/13

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