50 books to read before you die discussion

The Bell Jar
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message 1: by Buck (last edited Mar 31, 2018 06:08PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is the 14th book from our list of 50 Books to Read Before You Die, and our group read for April 2018. We previously discussed it in July of 2014, here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Buck (spectru) I read The Bell Jar a while back. it's the disturbing first-person story, autobiographical I believe, of a college girl’s descent into mental illness. She seems so normal, so everyday. We can identify with her. And then, before we know it, she just fell out of control. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t have put it on a list of books everyone should read.


Lucie | 6 comments I read this for a book club theme in Feb ('Woman's Month' or some such...) reviewed here. I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts. In response to @Buck, personally I think everyone should read something *like* this for a better understanding of depression. I can't remember having come across anything better so I think TBJ merits its place in the 50.


Buck (spectru) Lucie wrote: "I read this for a book club theme in Feb ('Woman's Month' or some such...) reviewed here. I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts. In response to @Buck, personally I think everyone should re..."

Point well made, Lucie. You're right - off-hand, I can't think of another book like this.


message 5: by Paula (last edited Apr 13, 2018 08:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paula I am not reading it currently, having read it when I was in my late twenties. Unfortunately, I identified with the (author) character. Because I have struggled with clinical depression for years, I've read other books on the subject of mental illness, always thinking, "I hope they treat this subject with integrity."

I have my favorites on the subject. Some are fiction; others non-fiction. Looking forward to seeing other comments on this thread to see how people respond to it.


Jeffrey (wordsmith2294) | 26 comments I read The Bell Jar earlier this year, and it was really powerful (and, for several obvious reasons, not exactly enjoyable). But I totally agree with Lucie, it's one of those books that needs to be read. I think it made the 50 books list because it did what no other book did at its time. I really liked Plath's metaphor for depression and mental illness, that it's a kind of bell jar keeping us trapped in our own toxic air, and there's nothing anyone can say or do to purge the air away without treatment.

I have a blog post about it as well, which is only about a month old: http://jeffreycscott.com/the-bell-jar/.

I'd like to add that I don't have any kind of mental illness or depression, and from that perspective, this is one of those books that can help people understand. It's clearly a privilege to be unhindered by an unseen illness. It's tragic that Plath's life was so hard, and it's good that she was able to change the world by turning her suffering into art. I think fewer people suffer because of her work.


Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 25 comments I have several friends who suffer from depression, and a couple of them have spent time in the hospital because of it. I really liked the insight this book gave into a depressed mind. I always felt bad because I never knew what to say to my friends when they were down-- now I see that when someone is depressed, words don't do much and can't change anything-- the important thing is to be there for them, and accept and love them for themselves.


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