By Jane Austen
This is my favorite book of all time. I pinched the plot for my novel Bridget Jones's Diary. I also came as near as I could to stealing its hero, Mr. Darcy, by turning him into Bridget's Mark Darcy. (I thought both plot and leading man had been well market-researched over a number of centuries, and that Jane Austen wouldn't mind. Anyway, she's dead.) Austen wrote about the minutiae of women's lives in a way that is funny and dazzlingly accurate, giving you insights into what was going on in the social world without your even realizing you're getting an incredible history lesson.