The Bell Jar is pretty iconic, so when it kept coming up on 'best books, like ever' lists, I finally decided to not give up on it solely because I hadn't read it in high school. I'm actually really glad I waited 10 years to read it and am even more appalled that this is required reading in early teen education- it's pretty raw and dark. While I am sure I would have loved reading it at many stages in my life, at 24 and a new transplant to NYC, it seemed like coming home; Sylvia Plath's experience with depression and social pressures are alarmingly relevant even 60 years after its first round of publishing.
Most of The Bell Jar can be highlighted and passed along, with weaving passages that stand alone as poetic statements about having an identity crises. I am not positive if recurring existential crisis are a result of being in your 20's with too many options, or being a reader and too self-aware/articulate on how your life is unfolding, but reading this made me feel like Plath made beautiful connections generations prior to any of my own discoveries:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
If you haven't read The Bell Jar yet, you totally should. If you haven't read it in a while/life has dramatically changed since you read it last, you totally should. It's one of those classics that tells a different story at each stage in your life (or so it seems, considering this was my first time) and seems similar to To Kill A Mockingbird and the Harry Potter series in that aspect. I loved this specific edition because it had a really epic forward by an editor explaining more details of the life of Sylvia Plath and how the book was ultimately published. It haunts me to think of what Plath may have become.