Otterly Amazing Reads: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path
Starting something new today on the blog which I hope you enjoy dear reader. Hopefully you have found my little corner of the internet because you are a bibliophile or at least you’re interested in hearing what I have to say about books.
Of course I didn’t start reading when I started my Instagram and blog (although it has reignited my passion for books) and I realised that I really haven’t shared too much about my favourite books on either of those platforms.
So each week I’ll be sharing my favourite reads or those books which I recommend to everyone and anyone who will listen. These will be my “Otterly Amazing Reads”
In fairly typical Otterly Bookish style I have found myself with a backlog of books to post about so for this post I’m sharing my first two spotlighted reads. The first of these is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, an iconic novel which showcases Plath’s mastery of language. Somehow she managed to fill each page with the same haunting beauty, honesty and melancholy of her poetry.
A candid look at mental health, depression and the effects of societal pressures on women, it still feels relevant to modern readers. It is shocking though that 57 years later attitudes to mental health are only now beginning to change. Save a few moments and turns of phrase which have not aged particularly well this could very well be a modern novel.
For me this is a must read book and one which I return to regularly, each time finding new meaning or a detail that I had previously missed.
For those who enjoyed The Bell Jar I highly recommend Plath’s short stories, or Ariel, her seminal poetry collection.
The second book I have picked is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, an iconically modern, and equally controversial, collection of poems about survival, trauma and femininity. Many of Kaur’s pithy and powerful poems are accompanied by her simple line drawings which adds another level to a reading.
Divided into four sections which move through the stages of hurting, loving, breaking and healing. The collection is designed to be at once deeply personal and yet also to tell a collective story. The language is, in its simplicity, at times in opposition with the intimate nature of her poems.
There are odes to sexuality, to desire and love and motherhood. Poems about rape and abuse precede compoistions about insecurity and relationship breakdowns. The collection is moving, all consuming but also hopeful.
Kaur offers up her own insecurities, especially in the Breaking section; those feelings of not having been enough, of still having more to give, while also seeking to show her reader their own value. It is this, and the honesty and transparency of her writing, which has placed Kaur at the very top of the many instapoets and made her a New York Times best seller. This success has not come without its detractors who accuse her of plagiarism and using collective trauma to her advantage.
None of this distracts from the brutal and beautiful prose.
Have you read either of these? What did you think of them? Drop me a comment below or on my instagram page.