Jane Austen seemed the perfect place to start, especially considering that I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time about a month ago. I know, I know, Gasp, How could you? etc, etc. And I haven't read Emma (though I did try when I was younger).
My justification for waiting so long? I wanted to read a version with a cover that would enhance and reflect the beautiful story inside. I just didn't know that at the time.