Ten Books Inspired By Jane Austen

Posted by Danielle Mohlman

I know, I know. You’ve blown through all of Austen’s novels. You lament the death of handwritten letters. No proposal will ever measure up to Mr. Darcy’s. I’m right there with you. Here are ten books to nurse that Jane Austen hangover.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding: Loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, Fielding’s 1996 novel follows thirty-something Bridget Jones and the two men in her life: Daniel Cleaver (a Mr. Wickham stand in) and Mark – you guessed it – Darcy. Hooked on Fielding’s Austen parallels? The book’s sequel – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – is loosely based on Persuasion.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James: Elizabeth and Darcy have been married for six years and things seem to be going well at Pemberley. Jane and Mr. Bingley live nearby, Georgiana Darcy’s marriage prospects are looking great, and everything is on schedule in the planning of the annual autumn ball. But chaos descends on the estate when Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth’s shamed sister – arrives at Pemberley in hysterics. Wickham has been murdered.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler: This witty novel about unlikely friendships and tested relationships follows six Janeites who form a book club to discuss Austen’s collected works. There’s a great scene at the beginning of the novel where, at the club’s first meeting, Fowler comments on one member’s decision to bring the Gramercy edition of the collected novels. Serious shade is thrown. This 2005 novel is a must-read for any Austen fan looking to relive the pre-bookish Internet days.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz: Deresiewicz credits Emma for transforming him from a “defensive, reactive, self-enclosed jerk” into the person he is today. Weaving Austen scholarship with personal memoir, this isn’t your average tome of literary criticism. It’s one man’s tale of self-discovery – with a little help from Jane.

Austenland by Shannon Hale: When a wealthy relative sends Jane to an English resort catered to the Austen obsessed, her dream of meeting her own Mr. Darcy goes from far fetched to feasible. Is a total immersion in Austenland enough to eradicate the obsession for good? Or will this regency lifestyle bring her a Darcy of her own?

Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, here’s a Choose Your Own Adventure style book that assigns the reader the point of view of Elizabeth Bennet. But while the book starts in Pride and Prejudice’s world, it’s up to the reader to determine whether Lizzie will end up with the predictable choice or fall in love with Sense and Sensibility’s Mr. Willoughby, Northanger Abbey’s Henry Tilney, or Emma’s Mr. Knightly. It’s all up to you!

Jane Austen, Game Theorist by Michael Suk-Young Chwe: In a book that’s part literary criticism, part social science, Michael Chwe unpacks how Austen explored game theory’s core ideas in all six of her novels. This book illustrates how Austen theorized choice and preferences and valued strategic thinking. In the book, Chwe explores how Austen analyzed the noticeable absence of strategic thinking and how her keen observations apply to a myriad of situations, including US military errors.

Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom by Deborah Yaffe: In this book, Yaffe – Janeite herself – explores the Austen fandom by flocking to where the Janeites gather, both online and IRL. She joins a pilgrimage to historic sites in Britain, joins in on the online Austen community, and attends a ball for the Jane Austen Society of North America. In period costume. Part journalistic chronicle of the Austen fandom, part love letter to the great author, Among the Janeites is a touching tribute to how we express our Austen love.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. WintersA tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem. Say what? Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is our beloved Jane Austen novel with a nautical – and sea beast-filled – twist. It’s survival of the fittest and only the fastest and bravest swimmers will find true love. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: The original text of Pride and Prejudice featuring all new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. Wait a minute. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes the romance we know and love and turns it on its head – undead style. It’s a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of flesh-eating foe.