Tag Archives: the hunger games

Twenty two becomes nineteen and I muse on The Bell Jar

Well, three more books have bitten the dust and my tally for the year has risen to a hefty six. Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, was insightful and fun but, ultimately, not very substantial. The Hunger Games was a nice page-turner but it left many loose ends waiting to be resolved. I guess I’ll have to get around to reading the sequels someday but they’re certainly not at the top of my to-read list.

By far the best of the three books I’ve recently read was the late poet, Sylvia Plath’s only work of prose, The Bell Jar which is in the form of a novel. It is said to be semi-autobiographical which makes it an unsettling read as Plath committed suicide no more than a month after the book’s publication. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating look at clinical depression.

Nineteen year old, Esther Greenwood is an aspiring poet who recieves an internship working for a women’s magazine in New York. Her time at the magazine introduces her to many women of her age. These women are unlike Esther in that they seem to have a pre-determined path laid out before them that they are content with. By the end of her tenure working for the magazine, Esther gains a new, disheartening perspective on everyday life and once she returns to her home in Massachusetts, her lack of a future career path brings on feelings of inadequacy and a deep depression begins to consume her.

Sylvia Plath at work

I was expecting The Bell Jar to be well written as Sylvia Plath was a very highly acclaimed poet but some of the figurative language in this book really exceeded my expectations. The metaphor at the heart of the book slowly reveals itself over the course of the story and it is so simple yet so profound. I suppose that when I began reading this book, I thought that the dark subject matter would make it a slow and drawn out experience. On the contrary, The Bell Jar proved to me that a book about depression can still immerse you in it’s world no matter how far removed from the subject matter you are. Esther’s life at various asylums is one of deceptive banality; with dull routine threatening to give way to a bout of shock treatment any day. I think that it’s this mysterious quality that compelled me to read this book so voraciously.

Sylvia Plath commited suicide by way of carbon-monoxide poisoning in February, 1963. She left two children motherless and a husband a widower. The Bell Jar was a final cry from her soul. It is harrowing and somewhat prophetic but even if Plath had lived to this day and conquered her depression, this book would be no less important. If you have ever known anyone who has suffered from depression at any point in time, then The Bell Jar will give you an idea of how it felt to be in the skin of that person in their darkest hour.

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Filed under Books, The twenty five book challenge of twenty eleven

The twenty five book challenge of twenty eleven

Reading has always been an ‘on and off’ thing over the course of my life. I’ve never stopped loving it, but sometimes it just seems that the thought of it likes to escape to the back of my mind. During the latter half of last year I started reading pretty solidly again after about a six month period devoid of booky wonder. I haven’t let up since. In an effort to keep this momentum going strong, I’ve set myself a goal: I’m going to read twenty five books this year. Or, at least try really hard to.

There’s only one rule: I’m not going to include graphic novels in my list despite the fact that I’m currently working my way through The Walking Dead. I tend to breeze through them so it would feel like cheating to me.

So far I’ve only made my way through a measly three books. They were:

  • A Game of Thrones – by George R. R. Martin
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire – by Stieg Larsson
  • The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – by Stephen King

I’d like to write quick reviews for some books every now and then, if I feel like sounding off about anything in particular. Right now I’m reading Keith Richards’ auto-biography, the imaginatively titled, Life. It’s proving to be a good read so far. Keith’s writing is a bit haphazard at times but he makes up for it with some truly humourous tidbits. My favourite one of these is his insight into the almost subconcious aspect of songwriting.

‘You might be having a swim or screwing the old lady, but somewhere in the back of the mind, you’re thinking about this chord sequence or something related to a song. No matter what the hell’s going on. You might be getting shot at, and you’ll still be “Oh! That’s the bridge!”‘

Reading two books at a time has never really worked for me, but if I’m going to have any chance of finishing twenty five books in the space of a year with a third of that year nearly gone and only three books down the hatch, I may have to. I just hope it doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of certain books. This dangerous experiment is going to come sooner rather than later, as I’m planning on starting the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Yep, hoppin’ on that bandwagon. Nevertheless, I’ve heard some very good things about the series so I’m going to give it a shot.

…and so the journey continues. Wish me luck.

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Filed under Books, The twenty five book challenge of twenty eleven