Mark Lee over at This Guy Falls Down has been hosting a Summer Reading Club every Friday for the last few weeks. I think I've gotten myself together enough to post about what I've been reading. :-) I have several books going at once... that way I can read whatever I feel in the mood for!
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I grabbed this book a while back without knowing anything about it. It's a classic and I like to feel smart by reading as many of those as I can (or I'm just trying to make up for not reading anything in high school). After reading the description, I was a bit hesitant... it follows the main character's psychological breakdown. Hmm... sounds thrilling. Surprisingly, I really loved this book.
Esther Greenwood is a very successful college student/writer taking her first steps into the world. Something happens to her and she cracks. It's hard to put your finger on just what happened. She was plunged into fabulous NYC life after winning a contest to act as a guest editor of a magazine. On returning to the Massachusetts country life, she receives the disappointing news that she was not accepted for a summer class at her college. Throughout all of this she feels increasingly trapped. Maybe it was the total of all the changes and pressure. She ends up trying suicide. Her mother has her committed and she slowly returns to herself. The book follows her breakdown and recovery.
This book was powerful to me... I could see little pieces of myself in Esther. Right now I'm pretty far away from a nervous breakdown, but this book shows how it can happen in an instant to the most talented of people. This book also points out some of the specific pressures a young women feels. Career or family? Virginity? Children? Can you do it all? Do you want to? These thoughts aren't new or particularly inflammatory now, but in it's time I'm sure this was a rather radical book.
I wish Sylvia Plath had survived her own bell jar. I would have loved to read more from her, especially the proposed part 2 to this book which would have shown Esther's breakdown from the outside. I do suggest you read this book. Try to find a version with notes... I read the edition from Harper Perennial Modern Classics. It had a "P.S." with in depth info on the book and Sylvia Plath. I hope you enjoy it!
Stay tuned for these coming attractions!
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams