Books as Souvenirs

I went to Victoria, British Columbia last summer and spent a few days exploring the city.

While wandering around downtown near the inner harbour, my husband and I stumbled upon a beautiful multi-level bookstore called Russell Books. As I wandered and soaked in the beauty of ceiling-high shelves lined with impeccably organized books, I knew I had to make a purchase.

I like to buy a souvenir from each trip I take. My Victoria souvenir is my Russell Books purchase. I found a lovely copy of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice edited and annotated by David M. Shapard.

The Unique Power of Annotation

Yes, I already own five other copies of P&P. But this one is different.

Annotated works allow you dig into a story so much more. As I read through this version of my favourite novel, I’m learning so much about the Regency period. I’ve always enjoyed classic novels and historical fiction and how these books transport me to a different time and place, to a different world that grew into the world I live in.

Each spread in this book has one page of the novel text and one page of annotations. It’s a unique reading experience. It is full of analyses and explanations of language, culture, traditions, and plot points. Shapard has done a meticulous job of analyzing and researching facets of Jane Austen’s world. He has also annotated her other novels (I may need to pick these up…).

If you’ve never read an annotated work, I encourage you to do so. An annotated edition of a novel allows you to more fully understand where the writer was coming from–and someone else has done all of the research for you!

If you’re a writer, reading annotated versions of books placed in the time period you are writing about can be a great form of research and can help you make the setting, dialogue, and culture of your work authentic.

Have you read any annotated works?
What are your favourite annotated novels?

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