The Summer To-Do List For Every Jane Austen Fan

by Julia Seales

Summer is the perfect time to indulge in Jane Austen novels. To be fair, I would also say that they’re perfect to read in autumn, spring, and winter, because I’m a huge Austen nerd. What can I say? There’s never a wrong time of year to read her hilarious, sparkling prose.

But something about blooming flowers, hot weather, and long stretches of time where you can sit outside flipping through the pages of Pride and Prejudice just seems to suggest that summer weather means Jane Austen time. Jane herself didn’t like the heat; in fact, she once wrote in a letter, “What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance." But perhaps you can recapture some of your elegance by dedicating time to one of the sassiest authors ever.

If you think only cold weather (or as we Austen fans call it, hot tea weather) means that it’s time to pull out your favorite six novels, I’m here to convince you otherwise. There may be a Christmas scene in Emma, but the truth is that there are certain things that every Austen fan should do every summer. This is the best kind of to-do list: it’s the Janeite’s summer to-do list.

1. Re-read All Of Jane Austen's Books

Of course, the best way to start an Austen-approved summer is to reread all of her books. There are only six, so it won't take too long. But if you're super dedicated, try checking out some of her other work (such as Lady Susan, the basis for the most recent Austen movie, Love and Friendship.)

2. Watch The 1995 Mini-Series Adaptation Of Pride And Prejudice

Summer is the perfect time for an Austen movie marathon. The scenery is beautiful in many of the film adaptations, and all the characters' walks through their gardens will definitely inspire you to embark upon a nature walk of your own. But probably the best adaptation to watch during the summer is the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice because of its sheer length. It's comprised of six 55-minute episodes, which means you'll basically be glued to your couch for six hours. Trust me, it's worth it. If you're looking for a shorter movie for an Austen-themed night in, though, why not see one of the newest releases such as Love and Friendship, Austenland, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? There's time to watch them all.

3. Travel Somewhere With A Regency Feel

There are so many places you can visit that are connected to Jane Austen, from locations in her books (you can actually go to Box Hill from Emma!) to places like the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Of course, if you're not in England for the summer, you can still capture the magic of the Regency era by visiting a local garden or tea shop. You can discover other events and opportunities by joining the Jane Austen Society of North America.

4. Learn To Play Whist

They play this card game in Emma, but do you have any idea how to actually play?? I don't. But maybe this summer is the time to figure it out. And if cards aren't your thing, there are plenty of other Regency-era activities to channel, without actually traveling to Austenland (since sadly it doesn't exist). For example: picnicking, playing music, painting your friend's portrait and giving it to the guy you're trying to set her up with... well, maybe not the last one. (We all saw how well it worked out in Clueless...)

5. Make White Soup

For some reason, I became obsessed with the idea of making white soup after reading about it in Austen's novels. It sounded extremely glamorous to go to a ball and eat white soup, and I had the opportunity to taste it once. I would definitely recommend testing out a Regency recipe yourself... and if it goes horribly wrong, just say you're channeling Bridget Jones's cooking skills.

Images: Focus (2), BBC1 (1), Amazon Studios (1), Sony Pictures Classics (1)