I finally got around to finishing The Bell Jar. Holy fraking crap.
There is really no earthly reason it should have taken me so long to finish this book. Well, ok, there is a reason and it's a good one: the Song of Ice and Fire series -- Game of Thrones, for those of you not in the know. I just started book five, so I'm obviously hooked. Every other book has fallen way way down on my to do list. I want to say I'm sorry for being a shit FBC leader, but I just can't do it, these GoT books are just too damn good.
Anyway, I originally read "The Bell Jar" when I was in high school.... or was it during my first year in college? Honestly, I can't really recall. Whatever, it was about a decade ago, which is what I was getting at. But you know what? It was like I was reading it for the very first time. I only remembered the first little chunk (when Esther is in NYC) and everything else was incredibly hazy.
I love how the book was written to illustrate her descent toward breakdown. The narrative starts out concise and slowly deteriorates right along with her. At first it's a bit like confusing, like "wait... are we in the present? Is this her remembering an event?", but things begin to smooth out again toward the end of her time in the institution(s).
The first time I read it, I related in a very adolescent way -- life is so hard, life isn't fair, wah wah wah, etc etc. I saw myself in Esther.
I was a bit emo a decade ago.
Reading it as an adult, a wife and mother, I saw myself in Esther in a different, more complicated, way. It felt almost out of body... like I could look down on the events of Esther's life and nod along thinking about how it happens to the best of us. So many of us are so close to that abyss, that bell jar, but we struggle on.Really though, I felt more connected to the work as a whole this time around.
But what do I know? Maybe I'll read it again in ten years and think I was totally full of it at 27.
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To recap, The Feminist Book Club has read the following books so far:
March - The Awakening by Kate Chopin
April - The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer
May - Half the Sky by by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn
June - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
And we had plans to read these gems as well:
July - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
August - Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti
Buuut as you can see, I'm almost two months behind! Anyone else? Or is everyone else caught up and just waiting on Jennifer and I too choose a book for September and beyond?
1. FBC is hosted by the Jennifers: Grimmricksen & Grits and Moxie.
2. We will (try to) read one book a month & will announce the chosen book on the first of each month (fingers crossed)
3. The final book selection will be made by us, but we LOVE suggestions!
4. Our choices will cover a lot of ground: fiction/non-fiction, classic/modern, etc. We want to read a wide variety of work focusing on issues particularly important to women. Sexuality, body issues, motherhood... all of it is fair game. We want to expose folks to work that they might not have thought to read on their own or books that have been gathering dust at the bottom of a massive 'to read' list.
*You don't need to dedicate a whole post to the club or a book review or whatnot. Linking up here simply means that you plan on reading the book this month -- and we want to come by and say hello to fellow feminists!. At the end of the month, if you do decide to post a review or something, please feel free to come back and link up to that specific post so that we can all go and read it!*