Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Bell Jar

The Bell JarThe Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

Although I've read this book a few times, upon each reading I appreciate something different about it. My book group is tackling depression and mental illness by reading The Bell Jar and All the Things We Never Knew (in September). I reflected on my younger-days obsession with Plath when her son, who was just a baby when she committed suicide, also took his own life.

What struck me this time was the sheer beauty of the writing. It is so clear that this novelist was a poet. And evident to many in my book group was the fact that Plath makes depression and mental illness seem so normal, almost matter of fact. It was just something she was dealing with, nothing to make a big drama about. 

All the Things We Never Knew

All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental IllnessAll the Things We Never Knew, by Sheila Hamilton

I loved this heart-breaking and beautiful book, which is part memoir, part educational. Local Portland author, journalist, and radio DJ Sheila Hamilton tells the sad and difficult story of her former husband, who suffered from bipolar disease. She alternates telling this story with extremely helpful, well-researched information about bipolar disease.

I learned a great deal from this book--about bipolar disease, suicide, depression, and mental illness, and we had a great discussion at our book group. I highly recommend it!