The Bell Jar (1963)
By Sylvia Plath

"A semi-autobiographical novel about a young college woman, Esther, who, following a prestigious summer internship at a woman's magazine in New York City, returns home and becomes increasingly depressed, then suicidal, eventually ending up in a mental hospital."

"I can picture myself in my peach-walled childhood bedroom, reading Plath's novel the summer after my junior year in college, and coming across one passage in particular in which Esther describes the choices before her as plump figs on a tree. And as she is standing there, trying to make up her mind about which one to choose, she watches them shrivel and fall off the branch one by one. Being around the same age as Esther, and feeling a similar anxiety about the future, I could totally relate. I think I carried that book around with me all summer."
From the book Reading Women by Stephanie Staal. Reprinted by arrangement with PublicAffairs (, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011.


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