Jane Austen Book Sleuth: Little Gems to Treasure and Gift

Illustration of a Morning & Evening Dress from Ladies Magazine (1811)It was the choicest gift of Heaven; and Anne viewed her friend as one of those instances in which, by a merciful appointment, it seems designed to counterbalance almost every other want. The Narrator on Anne Elliot, Persuasion, Chapter 17 

Looking for a gift book for a special Janeite, or as an introduction of Jane Austen to an un-indoctrinated friend? Recently, I was faced with both challenges, and researched a good many gift titles to find the prefect match to personality and purpose. 

It can be a challenge to buy for others, but I find books are the finest gift, and heck, if by some chance you mess up and they hate it, they can always exchange it!

In my mind, to qualify as a gift book, the edition must be

  1. A book that I would buy for myself
  2. A positive subject, that is informative and uplifting
  3. Beautifully designed, illustrated, or colorful images
  4. Hardcover
  5. Nonfiction
  6. Under $20.00 

Here are a few of the finalists in the Jane Austen gift book roundup.  

Image of the cover of Tea with Jane AustenTea with Jane Austen, by Kim Wilson, Jones Books, (1995) 

Author Kim Wilson proclaims that Jane Austen loved tea. This book is a charmer with antecedents of Jane Austen and her family’s passions for tea, and her use of tea-time in her novels as a social ritual in Regency England. Peppered with quotes from her novels and letters, readers will delight in the period illustrations and images, recipes for syllabub and cakes, and how to make the perfect cup of earl grey tea. ISBN 978-0972121798 

Image of the cover of Jane Austen in BathJane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City, by Katharine Reeve, Little Book Room (2006) 

Illustrated with beautiful period images and maps, this is a fabulous tour guide for the lucky visitor to Bath, or a fun armchair escape from any vantage. Follow in the footsteps of Bath’s most famous resident with four walking tours through the streets of Bath which are much the same as when Jane Austen visited and then resided there circa 1800. This is more than a guidebook, author and Bath resident Katharine Reeve treats us to a fair share of history and Austen quotes from the novels of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. “They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight – her eyes were here, there, everywhere” Northanger Abbey, Chapter 2. My eyes were too! ISBN 978-1892145321 

Image of the cober of The Jane Austen MiscellanyThe Jane Austen Miscellany, by Lesley Bolton, Sourcebooks, Inc., (2006) 

“The ultimate guide of everything Jane Austen for those who just can’t get enough!”  Packed with facts, trivia and quotes about Jane Austen, her novels and characters, this volume is a must have for the Austen addict to stealthily carry with them at all times for a quick and clandestine reference. Slip it in your purse, desk drawer or coat pocket, and prime yourself to impress with quotes and facts so apt and to the moment that your friends, co-workers and family will have no doubt of your obsession with Jane Austen. ISBN 978-1402206856 

Image of the cover of The Jane Austen HandbookThe Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, by Margaret C. Sullivan, Quirk Books, (2007) 

I love this sweet volume because it is just so darn perfect! Fact packed, funny, and fresh, what else could a Janeite wish for in a how to book about Jane Austen’s Regency world? Author Margaret Sullivan explains the challenges and travails of navigating the era so matter-of-factly that we never doubt her advice on how to transform ourselves into an accomplished Regency Miss, ride side-saddle, or turn down an unwelcome marriage proposal! The beautiful period accurate illustrations exemplify every detail adding insight and humor. ISBN 978-1594741715 

Image of the cover of The Watson\'s & Emma WatsonCONTEST: I am curious to know what other Janeites like to give as Austen gifts, so please let us know by leaving a comment between May 21 and May 28, and you will be eligible for a drawing of a new copy of the Jane Austen continuation, The Watson’s & Emma Watson: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Novel Completed  by Joan Aiken, (reprint 2008). The winner will be announced on May 29. Good luck to one and all, and happy reading.

7 thoughts on “Jane Austen Book Sleuth: Little Gems to Treasure and Gift

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  1. Hi Laurel Ann, this is a great post and full of terrific suggestions!….I too am always looking for the perfect gift to give to my Austen-loving friends and have given all you mention at one time or another… For new books that make perfect gifts I would also suggest: Josephine Ross, Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners; Patrice Hannon, 101 Things you Didn’t Know about Jane Austen; John Sutherland, So You Think you Know Jane Austen?; Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen, The World of her Novels; Carol Shield’s excellent short biography…..so that is my very short list, though some of these fall outside your requirements (hardcover, under $20.)…and do not forget the endless supply of used and out-of-print books and the “merchandise” available from JASNA regional chapters… one’s list could go on and on!


  2. Sad to say I don’t have any real “Janeite” friends to buy for….however I do splurge every now and then on myself. A few months ago I gave myself some Jane Austen greeting cards from Jane Odiwe’s website Austen Effusions. I bought nine cards and put then in frames. I purchased 6 cards one scene from each of the novels and put them in two different frames. I also bought 3 of Jane Austen cards and put those three in frame as well. They look so beautiful displayed and I enjoy them daily!


  3. Just like Felicia, I too do not have any Janeite friends. But I do occasionally buy books about Jane Austen when I can’t help myself. Like today, I just bought two books which are Patrice Hannon’s “101 Things you Didn’t Know about Jane Austen” and Deirdre Le Faye’s “Jane Austen Letters”. And if I can search for Deirdre Le Faye’s “Jane Austen: The World of her Novels” in my local bookstore, I would definately consider buying it.


  4. I too am without a true Janeite friend but I have had friends who recognized my love of Jane Austen. My favorite gift is Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. I was very touched when I a friend bought this lovely book for me.


  5. Although I don’t have many Janeite friends, I do have my best friend who recently discovered Jane Austen and is now reading Persuasion – Yay! So once she becomes a full-fledged janeite I intend on buying her complete Jane Austen sets – movies, books, action figures, etc…In the meantime, though, I was very, very happy when for my birthday I received the Jane Austen Collection from BBC video. Yay, all the 80’s movies!!!
    ps: I haven’t read the books you recommended but they’re been on my wish list for a loooooooooong time. :)


  6. Sadly, I also do not have any TRUE Janeite friends that would really appreciate any extra Jane Austen paraphenilia. But I do know what I would buy for these mythical Janeites: Pride and Prejudice “continuations” such as Darcy’s Story and Mrs. Darcy’s dilemma. Of course, a very cool Jane Austen Action figure, the books, A Walk With Jane Austen, and Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. And of course the books, movies, tv movies, everything! I will have to check out the books you mentioned as well, thank you for the suggestions! :)


  7. Hello all, I see a trend here. No Janeite friends locally. Hmm? I was in the same boat for many years. Eventually, I converted a few friends and have made some wonderful new Janeite friends online, so do not get discouraged. You may still have friends to buy for, or just buy it for yourself!

    Join your local chapter of the Jane Austen Society, and you will have a room full of Janeite friends instantly!

    Cheers, Laurel Ann


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