Culture + Community

March Bibliotherapy with Sivan Bogan

by | Mar 6, 2018

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I remember the very first time I read this book. It was the first time I felt truly understood and validated in regards to my mental health. In this story, we follow Esther Greenwood, a girl who from the outside, has all the makings of a successful young woman in 1953. Esther is intellectual and beautiful, and after winning a prestigious internship after college, she has been given an incredible opportunity to make a name for herself. Esther’s lingering fear of inadequacy, failure, and sense of sadness ultimately catches up with her. After a suicide attempt, Esther is sent to a psychiatric ward where electroshock therapy awaits her. The reader is not left out of a single one of Esther’s thoughts. It is uncomfortable, scary, and so necessary. This book reveals truths about the world and society that still exist 65 years later. This book is relevant and honest, and it is a story that deserves to be told again and again and again.

“We’ll take up where we left off, Esther,” she said with her sweet, martyr’s smile. “We’ll act as if this were all a bad dream.”

A bad dream.

To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.

A bad dream.

I remembered everything.

Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them. But they were part of me. They were my landscape.”

When Watched by Leopoldine Core

This debut short story collection is a revelation from start to finish. It is 19 stories about gender and sexuality ranging from two women struggling through their age gap, to a pair of girls who work as prostitutes for extra money while avoiding feelings for each other. The stories take place primarily in New York City, and the city is a character itself, chewing these different lives and spitting them out. Each story is a master in its simplicity. Core’s writing is sensitive, frank, and poetic. When life is too much to take and reading an entire book seems like the most daunting thing to do, pick this book up. Read a story or two. Each one will expand your heart.

“He rests his hand on her stomach and a foreverish feeling flashes between them. She tries to imagine loving him less and she can’t. Then she tries to picture herself as an old woman in a rocking chair. She can’t. And she can’t imagine dying because that would mean the love was gone too.”