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September Book

School’s back in session, and it has us craving new school supplies, pumpkin spice and a literary classic. September’s our favorite time to read something straight off the required reading lists. And this go around we’ve selected The Bell Jar. First published in 1963, it’s the only novel ever published by writer and poet Sylvia Plath.

Born in Boston in 1932 and the daughter of academics, Plath’s story is one of great success and tragedy. She suffered the loss of her father when she was only eight years old. A strict authority figure, his life and death held a strong influence on Plath’s work. But Plath was an early writing talent. She kept journals starting at age eleven and was often published in regional publications. She achieved her first national publication when she was only eighteen. A graduate of Smith College, Fulbright scholar, and acclaimed poet, Plath reached high levels of success in her professional life, yet her personal life was conflicted.

{trigger warning: depression and suicide}

Plath suffered from clinical depression for most of her life. In her early twenties she made her first of many suicide attempts. At age twenty-four she married poet Ted Hughes. Sadly Plath suffered from depression, abuse, and beatings in her marriage to Hughes. After having two children they separated in 1962. Shortly thereafter, and less than one month after The Bell Jar was published, Plath took her own life.

Originally published under the pen-name “Victoria Lucas,” The Bell Jar is semi-autobiographical. Although the names and places have been changed, the narrative about nineteen year old Esther Greenwood parallels Plath’s experiences and her descent into mental illness.

“The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.”

Since its debut, this novel has reached classics status. Finding its way into school curriculums and required reading lists, this is one you’d have a hard time missing in your academic career. But whether you missed out or just feel like revisiting a classic after some time away, we’ll hope you’ll read along with us!

Here’s how…
  1. pick up a copy and read along with us anytime before the end of September
  2. keep us posted on social using #booklymark and tagging @thebooklyclub
  3. stay tuned for our discussion post on Instagram and our reviews here on the blog so we can chat all about it!

Happy reading!


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