Ranking Austen

Since Star Wars Episode 8 came out about a month ago, I’ve seen TONS of lists ranking the Star Wars movies from worst to best, favorite to least favorite, whatever. Oh my gosh, it’s so much fun, and I just had to do it too! Which led to a LONG list ranking my favorite Marvel movies (lots of unpopular opinions there!), and then led to me talking about all the bookish rankings I could do.

Oh my gosh. Ranking books and movies is my new addiction.

So, for absolutely no reason at all other than this is what I WANTED to do on a Sunday morning while I’m stuck in bed having braxton-hicks contractions, my list of Jane Austen novels from most favorite to least favorite. Enjoy!

1. Pride and Prejudice

84979I know it’s totally cliche and I don’t care, because Pride and Prejudice is tied for my favorite book of all time. I love it so much that it’s hard to not fangirl and actually ARTICULATE what it is I love about it. Just, EVERYTHING. But I think my favorite thing is the absurdity of all of the characters. From Mr. Collins to Lady Catherine to Mrs. Bennett, there is so much silliness and it is so well-done. And, of course, the completely heart-fluttering romance. *sigh* I read this book almost every year. I can’t get enough.

2. Sense and Sensibility

37560Choosing #2 was actually pretty tough. Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey are both favorites of mine, but for completely different reasons. In the end Sense and Sensibility won out for essentially the same reason Pride and Prejudice does: the silly tone. Also, the silly characters.

But I think Sense and Sensibility has something to offer that is completely unique. We are always told “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” But Sense and Sensibility is really about how you CAN’T always choose who your friends are going to be. Sometimes you end up being stuck with friends that are obnoxious. But if they care about you and treat you well, you might find that they become someone you care for anyway. And I think that was important for me to learn.

Also, Edmund! So adorable! I love the middle-school-ish-ness of Eleanor and Edmund’s romance.

3. Northanger Abbey

50398Northanger Abbey is easily Jane Austen’s least appreciated novel. I wrote a mini-Instagram review once that said “…Northanger Abbey has the most culturally relevant themes to the 21st century American,” and a friend of mine who is a high school English teacher responded “Seriously? snickers.” I then went on a long rant defending my position, but it was clear that she hadn’t ever really given it much thought. Because, you know, it’s Northanger Abbey. 

But even though the tone isn’t as light and funny as some of her other novels, I find this to be one of the funniest. We see Catherine go through some of the same things that we all experienced as teen or pre-teen girls. A girl who pretends to be her friend in order to pursue a romance with her brother, then stabs them both in the back. Feeling like she is missing something when it comes to romance. A parent of someone we like not approving of the relationship. My favorite is how she gets a little too invested in her gothic novels and can no longer tell the difference between fiction and reality. That rang a REALLY huge bell, especially since I read this book for the first time in the height of the Twilight craze.

4. Emma

586497I feel like I have to defend Emma being so low on this list since it’s often called “the perfect novel.” I LOVE Emma. Seriously, five-star book. I just personally love the other three more.

The Lizzy Bennett Diaries team made an Emma re-telling called Emma Approved, and it didn’t do nearly as well, despite having the dreamiest Mr. Knightly OF ALL TIME. Why? People didn’t like Emma. Which is also typically the main criticism of this book, aside from the length. But here’s the thing: YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO LIKE EMMA. At least, not at first. But she grows, and that is the amazing thing to see in this novel.

5. Persuasion

2156Okay, unpopular opinion time. I don’t actually like Persuasion. *cringes* *awaits hate mail*

Seriously, I’ve read this book twice now, and I’m not really sure what the big deal is. I’ve read a lot of people talk about how this is the best Jane Austen novel, but nobody really ever seems to say why, and I don’t get it. I feel like it lacks the wit of Austen’s early novels. It has a much more serious tone on purpose I think. But I find the story sad, and I find Anne’s depression going unnoticed by ANYONE even sadder. Plus, Captain Wentworth is a total jerk to her. I can never buy their reconciliation at the end.

6. Mansfield Park

mansfield-parkAs I mentioned last week in the #notall Books Tag, this is the only Austen novel I actively dislike. This doesn’t seem to be a particularly unpopular opinion. It’s long, nothing really seems to happen, and the characters are unlikeable. Which, like in Emma, I THINK is supposed to be on purpose, but they aren’t developed quite as skillfully, so I don’t end up liking them by the end of the book. Also, it’s not just ONE unkileable character, it’s most of them. So, yeah.

50 thoughts on “Ranking Austen

  1. YAY! I’m one of those people who always likes to read people’s rankings of Austen cos they’re always so different 😀 I love Pride and Prejudice and Eleanor and Edmund’s relationship is wonderful 😀 Oh my goodness you’re so right about Northanger Abbey (and in my humble opinion your teacher was wrong) I *love* how you connected it with the Twihards!! That’s so clever!! I think it’s a very funny book and actually one of her most satirical! YES YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LIKE EMMA- it’s ridiculous that people don’t get that tbh- I frickin love that book so much because of the character growth and it’s actually my favourite cos it’s the one that got me into Austen (also it’s got Mr Knightley, has the aforementioned character development and like you said it really is perfect) *But* I do understand why it’s lower on the list, cos for 5/6 of Austens books I just love them in varying degrees- so I think that by putting Pride and Prejudice lower on the list for instance, people might think I like it less (although to be honest, my rankings are always subject to change depending on my mood or the time in my life) That said, I do like Persuasion, even though it’s different to the others for a number of reasons: 1) it has a very Romantic (with a capital R 😉 ) aspect, personally made me very emotional and feels more like a precursor to Bronte novels (which I adore) 2) it’s kind of considered like an answer to the question of “would the relationships survive?”- it’s a beautiful story about the endurance of love and for that reason… 3) it’s more mature than some of her earlier work. Obviously, you don’t have to like it, that’s just my two cents and why I do (it’s probably my 2nd favourite and has been my favourite before 😉 ). As for Mansfield Park… yeah I don’t like that one either. At all. 😉 Amazing post! (and gosh sorry for the long comment)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yay! Long comment!

      Persuasion is definitely more Romantic with a capitol R, which is maybe why I don’t like it as much? Don’t get me wrong, I love Jane Eyre, but I’m not a Wuthering Heights fan. I think Romantic literature is really hit or miss with me. I think it depends so much on the lower case r romance and whether I connect with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ohhhh i love this. it remembered me to make a post about my austen project last year. it’s crazy how books work differently with each person. my list would look like this:
    1. persuasion
    2. northanger abbey
    3. mansfield park
    4. emma
    5. sense & sensibility
    6. pride & prejudice
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how high up Northanger is on your list! Ours are almost reversed, haha. It really shows, I think, how different our tastes are. Although, full disclosure, you are the first person I have EVER seen who has Mansfield Park anywhere other than dead last, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Argh, I love this list, but not in that order!!! 😉 Pride and prejudice Must come top for me too but I was named after Emma so it holds a very special place in my heart (I’m nothing like her though, honest!). I am an Austinite so the order doesn’t make a great deal of difference as I devour them all, but probably sense and sensibility comes last for me, possibly tied with northanger Abbey (probably just because it’s a parody on Ann radcliffe, and I think that she’s a complete hoot!).

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    1. It was surprisingly difficult to choose an order, because they are all so wonderful! If I wasn’t already planning on reading several massive books this year it would totally be time for an Emma re-read. I think it’s been three or four years. 😮

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        1. Next up is the Percy Jackson series. I have baby #2 due in just a few weeks, so I don’t want to start something too major. I’m really looking forward to the fun, light read.

          I can’t relate to toddler sleeping problems, but my son did not sleep at ALL as an infant. We read up, did the research, got some help, and we’re basically child sleeping experts now. Just in case you want to talk or want some help.

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          1. Very good idea! I hope you enjoy it and all the very best of luck for the next few weeks. I wish you an uncomplicated labour and a perfectly healthy baby. Thank you for the offer, that’s very kind and I may well take you up on it at some point in the future. He has always hated sleeping and doesn’t seem to need it!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. It’s amazing how different kids can be. My niece hasn’t taken a nap other than in the car since before she was 2, and she always seems just fine, but mine naps for 2+ hours a day still at 3!

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          3. Well, we DID spend $250 on a sleep specialist after the first one wasn’t, lol. As I said, it was so bad that we had to get TONS of help and became sort-of-experts on getting babies to sleep.

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  4. None of the characters in Mansfield Park are likeable but for some reason it’s my favourite. I liked Fanny at the beginning but can’t seem to understand why she’d want to be with what’s-his-face.
    Northanger Abbey is by far the most under-appreciated Jane Austen novel. It was just a fun book! And you’re right about Persuasion. I think those who like it like Anne, they consider her strong and steady. But it was such a doze of a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 1. braxton hicks are so annoying! 2.i love a good list!!! 3. you should do a list of all jane austen related movies! i.e. the jane austen book club, pride and prejudice, becoming jane, austenland!

    -dux

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a good idea! But I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen very many of the adaptations. Also … *whispers* … I don’t really like the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice very much, and I would be afraid to say that on the internet. *giggles*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am the SAME with the bbc version- i’ve actually never made it through it all the way! i’m not sure your movie taste but i think austenland is hilarious!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I would love to see you do the same thing with the movie adaptations! I haven’t read any of Jane Austen’s books (which I plan to change this year) but my mom totally loves her so we have every adaptation of every book. Persuasion (the 2007 BBC version with Sally Hawkins is actually one of my favorite movies of all time so I would love to see your thoughts on them! You could even do a movie vs. book post which would also be cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be a really cool post! IIIIIIFFFFF I had watched the movie adaptations. Which, I haven’t. lol. I love the Kiera Knightly P&P (unpopular opinion!), the 90s all-star cast version of Sense and Sensibility is great fun, and I somehow snored through the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma once in high school, but that’s all I’ve watched.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a great idea for a post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this books and I am tempted to rank them myself, although I haven’t read Emma or Mansfield Park in a while.
    I haven’t read any of your other posts as yet, but I hope everything went well with your delivery? I am 25 weeks at the moment and really feeling the back and leg pain. It doesn’t help that I have a toddler who keeps me very busy.
    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found pregnancy 2 with a toddler to be SO MUCH more difficult than the first one! Yes, delivery went well (if a little on the bizarre side…), and everyone is happy and healthy. Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy! I hope your back pain gets better. Wearing the belly band REALLY helped me, if you haven’t given that a try yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the list I needed in my life! You have no idea how much it makes me happy that you put Sense and Sensibility second! And you’ll see why… in December! (holy shit, I sound like a click-bait article) 💖xx

    Liked by 1 person

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