52 Titles: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Can you believe I’ve never read this until now?

I think a lot of things about this book will only make sense to female readers, much in the way that Joan Didion does. All the details — living with a gaggle of other young women; the oppressive archetypes of the women that surround you; being the third wheel; the constant man-splaining about everything from your emotional state to whatever said man has learned in their latest liberal arts elective; the endless self-doubt about professional, social and romantic trajectories; the, err, strange bleeding. And most vividly, when Esther Greenwood throws all her clothes off the roof — I once had a similar impulse. Bill Cunningham says clothing is the armour with which we protect ourselves from the world, but sometimes clothing is just baggage — you get tired of lugging it with you, moving it from one apartment to another; having to wash and preen and iron and keep them neat; maybe it ties you down to an identity you no longer embrace. So yeah, I get why women love this book.

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