Emily Gardner – Guest Post

I am so excited to introduce you to Emily Gardner. I first found Emily through her Instagram account and fell in love with her clean, peaceful images and great taste in books. I soon discovered she’s also incredibly sweet and fantastic to talk to. Emily is a youth pastor’s wife and mother to two children and, despite her California roots, now calls the East Coast home. She is my kind of people, as shown by the fact that, regarding the post, she said, and I quote, “This has been so much fun for me – it’s like being back in school!”.  Please be sure to follow her, check out her beautiful blog, and scroll to see her answers to the questions below her book stack selections to get to know her a little more. Thank you so much for being a part of Imaginary Book Stack, Emily!

“When pushed, Emma is my go-to favorite Jane Austen novel. There may be more drama and romance in her other stories, but something about Emma Woodhouse has always captured my attention. I’m loathe to admit my affinity for Emma may have been first sparked by a desire to embody the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Austen’s sharp and lovely heroine. Who doesn’t want to look good in empire frocks, be admired by the likes of Ewan McGregor and Jeremy Northam and be adept at archery? But after consuming all things Austen over and over again, Emma kept rising to the top.”


Emily Gardner

Emma’s Book Stack

At nearly twenty-one, Emma has all the world can afford and admire – beauty, smarts, money, charm, position. Emma is the type of girl you love to hate but have a hard time blaming for what nature and circumstance have bestowed so generously. Privilege and youth create a pride in Emma that is both innocent and indulged. By persisting in and seeing the consequences of her misguided attempts to meddle in others people’s lives, Emma gains perspective only experience can give.

What happens to Emma in the span of months occurs repeatedly in our lives, or so we hope. Some convictions I clung to as a college student look different than they do as a thirty-year-old mom. How I view myself and others has been shaped by experience and the gentle guidance of people I trust. I love how Emma personifies that process.

A young lady of her status would be well-versed in classics and conversant in literary trends. But Emma has a lot of leisure time that could be spent exploring other interests in the pages of books. Her stack reflects some innate qualities that grow with her as she gains life experience and a need to occasionally escape the mental confines of her high maintenance, but beloved, father.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre as a work of classic literature is required reading for any accomplished woman of Emma’s status. Jane Eyre as a person is just the type of woman Emma would admire. Both Emma and Jane have strong views on marriage that inform the trajectory of their romantic relationships.

Just Mercy

Bryan Stevenson
Although a sense of duty is sure to motivate Emma’s charity work, I think she has some genuine altruistic feelings that would make her intrigued by Bryan Stevenson’s work with the Equal Justice Initiative.

Bread and Wine

Shauna Niequist
Emma has been mistress of Harfield since her sister got married, bearing the responsibility of being a welcoming and gracious hostess. Though food often helps define class differences, food shared brings the people in Emma’s life together and promotes benevolence toward others. Shauna’s collection of essays speaks directly to the relationship between food and community.

A Quiet Life in the Country

T E Kinsey
If the puzzle of Jane Fairfax’s piano is any indication, Emma is fond of a good mystery. Lady Hardcastle is witty, charming and of a certain class, much like Emma herself. Though she may initially balk at the camaraderie between Lady Hardcastle and her maid servant, Florence Armstrong, Emma would recognize the joys of having a close confidant like her own Mrs. Weston.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

Jeanne Birdsall
Emma has genuine affection for her nieces and nephews. I could see her taking it upon herself to vet some reading material for their future literary pursuits. She does have outstanding taste in the finer things which she’d be more than happy to share with others. The Penderwick series as a whole affords both quality and charm. This second installment is especially perfect because the four sisters do a bit of match-making for their widowed father.

A Little More About Emily

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your reading life.

Hi! I’m Emily, a lifelong reader married to a growing reader raising two little readers. My husband and I grew up in California but find ourselves making a home in Eastern Pennsylvania. I am the online communications director for a non-profit but get to work from home. As an INFJ who isn’t always super great at small talk, my favorite way to connect with people is over books. Reading is my primary mode of self care. I have a particular fondness for bunny books and anything with a nod to the classics. When I’m not reading, I enjoy being outside (when it’s warm), finding a good latte and exploring the North East.

What are you reading right now?

I just picked up Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr and am eagerly waiting on An Italian Journey by James Ernest Shaw to arrive in the mail. This Winter has given me major cabin fever and I keep reaching for books that will at least let me escape from the cold in mind if not body.

What’s a book you wish everyone would read?

Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen was a life-changing book for me. Even if you don’t agree with Nouwen’s beliefs, I’m not sure how anyone could read it and not be impacted by his beautiful writing, gentle wisdom and compassion for others. I also think at least one Jane Austen novel is a must for every reader.

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

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