✿Ring Around the Prose✿


Jane Austen

Review: The Making of Jane Austen by Devoney Looser

The book in two sentences: Devoney Looser explores Jane Austen’s long and lasting legacy as one of the most brilliant novelists to ever exist. In this book, we see Austen illustrated, dramatized, politicized, and schooled in ways that give voice to Austen’s lesser-known authorities.

Rating:  Travel companion

Long story long: I made it through a whopping four pages of Pride and Prejudice the first time I picked it up. I was in sixth grade and figured it was about time I started reading “the Classics” (whatever that meant). I wouldn’t end up finishing the book until two or three years later.

Since then, Pride and Prejudice has become my favorite novel. I have read it nearly 20 times, listened to the audiobook version almost twice as much, collected fan-fiction and spin-off books, and been to a number of stage adaptations.

There are many reasons I love Pride and Prejudice—Austen’s biting social commentary on class, marriage, and wealth, to say the least—but the most meaningful to me is that it has helped me track my growth as a reader, and as a person, over the past 18 years. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I’ve either learned something new about myself, or something new about the book and the author; it never ceases to surprise me!

Devoney Looser’s novel The Making of Jane Austen is a wonderful continuation of this tradition. Her book explores the legacy of Austen in four parts through lesser-known historical figures. In the first part, she wonders how “illustrations seen by Austen’s first generation of readers shaped then-developing understandings of the author and her fiction” (15). A number of artistic choices made in the 19th century carry weight even today, and have influenced early stage and screen adaptations of Austen’s novels.

Continue reading “Review: The Making of Jane Austen by Devoney Looser”

Recent readings

Have you read either? What did you think??

Life updates, or something like that

A month ago I was bored out of my mind waiting for school to start. When friends said I should take advantage of the lull between work and school to explore my new home I would answer with a laugh, roll my eyes, and say, “I know, it’s great, but I just want to start school already!”

Well, grad school is finally on a roll and is taking its toll on me. Not in a “why-did-I-ever-think-I-could-do-this-??” kind of a way, more like a “wow-there’s-a-lot-of-stuff-they-want-to-cram-in-ten-short-weeks-!!” kind of way. Seriously dude, quarter systems are no joke.

So you can say it. I know you want to. No really, go ahead, you earned it. You told me so.

But before you feel the need to stage an intervention, I’m happy to report that I’ve been keeping up with my fun reading. As one of my favorite heroines says, “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.” So despite the studying, assignment deadlines, and looming midterms (I have two next week—wish me luck!), I try to carve out at least 15-20 minutes a day to read something I don’t have to write a policy memo on.

My Econ professor sure gets it:


With nine weeks left in this year’s challenge, I have nine more books to cross off on my list. Not bad I think, not bad at all.

What have you guys been reading?

Currently reading

For my “Managing Politics and the Policy Process” course we’re required to read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s very interesting, but unfortunately falls outside the scope of my reading challenge 😦


My current reading challenge book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ve read this many, many times, and in my next book review you’ll find out why I love it so much.

What have you been reading?

June and July Book Haul!

It’s been a while, but in honor of National Book Lovers Day, I thought I’d share my June and July book haul!

June was especially fun because I got a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley (one of the perks of living in such a fun city!). There were so many tables hosted by small businesses and local publishers, and I was happy for an opportunity to support Asian and Asian-American authors.

They had a printing press so I made a small notebook!

July was a little slower because I was traveling. However, to prep for my trip I bought a couple of things for my Kindle. I finally finished A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings on plane and train rides, so that was exciting!

Let me know if you’ve read or are planning to read any of these!

Continue reading “June and July Book Haul!”

Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi


Brief synopsis (back cover): Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.

Rating: ✈  Travel companion

Long story short: As a professor and a writer Nafisi expounds on what she knows best: trying to make sense of her reality through works of fiction. She juxtaposes literary analysis and narrative to help reshape her life under the Islamic Regime in Iran, to reassemble parts of her identity that had been broken or stripped away because of the religious fanaticism that engulfed the country.

Continue reading “Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi”

The (fictional) home is where my heart is

Excerpt from my book journal. I realize I have zero sense of perspective, but I enjoyed doodling this anyway 🙂

Places can be just as worthy of love as your favorite characters. The following is a short list of fictional settings that I like to call “home”, inspired by an article on fictional homes by Helen Maslin:

  • Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Pemberley from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • San Francisco* in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin and in the Fremont Jones series by Dianne Day
  • Buckshaw manor from the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley
  • Elinor’s home in Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

*Not fictional (thank goodness!), but the home-y places in the stories don’t all actually exist in the real S.F.

What are some of your favorite fictional places? Comment below!

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