More book reviews coming your way today! Honestly these are my favourite posts to make because I love talking about books so much. I’ve read a lot of new books lately but these are the 3 I wanted to talk about for December. Enjoy!
(note – be prepared, long reviews incoming)
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
I absolutely loved this book. I know it sounds strange but I really feel a connection to the likes of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, their writing has always resonated with me and I get this strange sense of surrealism when reading their work as it always sounds like something I would write myself, and I don’t mean in any old sense of ‘Oh yeah, that’s something I would say’, I mean as though they’ve delved into my diary and picked out paragraphs, words, phrases that I would use but never actually share with anyone else through fear of being seen as weird. After reading their work and realising this, it encouraged me to continue writing in the style that I was and to embrace it because clearly it wasn’t weird if these amazing writers had also done the same. In a note to my friend a few months back, I wrote this – “I really love Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and they both wrote in a similar style – in the sense that their words were so dramatic and deep, which makes me feel less silly about expressing my feelings and writing everything that I actually want to, rather than toning it down through fear of how others may react or interpret it. It makes me feel like I’m part of something, like maybe I could understand them in ways others couldn’t.”
I really feel like that’s true, and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way at all, I just mean that I get it. I really understand them, I understand where they were coming from with their writing and also who they were as people I guess, I understand why they did what they did…I don’t know, I just feel a weird connection, like I’m listening to an old friend. When reading The Bell Jar I wasn’t reading the book as Esther, I was reading it as Sylvia writing Esther…if that makes sense. Every time I had to put the book down I missed it, which I’ve never experienced in that sense before. I just wanted to stay in that book because I felt like I was having a conversation with someone I knew deeply, and when I had to stop reading it for whatever reason, I’d long to pick it back up again. I read it all in my car at work – in the morning when I parked up and then at lunchtime where I would just go to sit quietly and read. I think it’s something that will be timeless for me in the sense that I’ll probably end up reading it over and over again because even though it’s a story, it did really feel like I was just talking to a friend. I wanted to stay inside that world because I felt comfortable and like I had something to offer just by sitting there and reading it. I don’t know, I was also very aware of the fact this was her only novel and that she wrote it only a few months before her death, that was in the back of my mind throughout the duration of reading it, which made the experience all that more different for me.
I completely fell in love with this book, it is one that I will forever hold close to my heart and I wish more than anything that I had read it in the midst of my depression, when it was at its worst. This book could be quite triggering for people with mental illness and therefore some advise not to read it, but I think the opposite – I would encourage you to read it, because it’s wonderful to find someone who can string sentences together that you were unable to form yourself.
I would’ve loved to have sat down with Sylvia and spoken to her about life, and feelings. There are so many things I would’ve asked and there are so many answers she could’ve given me. I definitely left my heart with this book and with Sylvia, both as a person and a writer.
The Princess Saves Herself In This One – Amanda Lovelace
I love poetry and read it online a lot, but have never really owned any physical poetry books and I wanted to start a collection because I love being able to just have a flick through and read whatever suits me at that moment. I bought milk and honey a while ago (you can read my review on that here) and so I thought I’d buy another book that a lot of people were also talking about in the hopes that it would save my perception on ‘modern day poetry’, – The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace. This book was okay, it was an improvement on milk and honey however, I don’t really think that’s saying much. It was pretty much the same setup as milk and honey apart from this time I could actually relate to some of the poems that I was reading. However, as for actual content – a lot of cliché Tumblr poems that again anyone could’ve written in their sleep, I still don’t understand how people are actually managing to publish and sell this kind of stuff to make a living out of it – I might start myself because apparently you don’t need a whole lot of literary skill to do it (I’m sorry that was mean but I’m frustrated). A four word poem on each page in order to be known as a bestselling author? I’ll start jotting words down now.
Can someone please recommend me some good poetry books that are both relatable, longer than four words each and look like they’ve had actually had an ounce of thought put into them, the poetry lover within me is slowly dying. If this is modern day poetry then I need to go back in time. The poetry I actually read on Tumblr is better than the physical things that are being published these days and it makes me feel so disheartened to say the least, a lot of the poetry that you guys post on here is better than the things I’ve read in these books – maybe we should all put our own collection together and become bestselling authors. The only good thing to come out of reading these collections is the fact that it’s inspired me to actually take myself seriously and put together my own – because if this is the type of stuff publishers are actually sending to print these days, it seems like they’ll take anything. Does anyone else feel the same, or am I just being overly cranky??
Or maybe it’s my own fault that I keep buying Tumblr-esqe poetry books that have been hyped up on Instagram – I suppose if that’s the criteria in which I discovered the book, I shouldn’t expect too much. Overall I wasn’t very impressed with the whole thing, if this is what people are publishing these days we better all get ourselves an agent – the things we all write on here are so much better than the things that get published in these books. I am however determined to find a poetry book that I actually like and share it with you guys, so stay tuned!
We Were Liars – E. Lockheart
This is a book that I’d seen around everywhere (I’m sure you guys have all heard of it) and I was interested to read it due to how popular it had become, and even though I’d heard the name a lot, I didn’t actually know what it was about. One thing I love about this book is the personification of emotion that Lockhart manages to include a lot throughout it, and that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but if you read (or have read it) then you’ll understand what I mean. When I received the book I was surprised at how lightweight it was actually, the story was definitely a lot shorter than I’d expected.
A (pretty big) issue I have with this book is the title – “We Were Liars”. I actually looked this up because I’m sure I’m not the only one that was confused by this, basically (no spoilers don’t worry) the protagonist Cady calls herself and 3 other people the ‘Liars’ – they’re a group basically. However, Cady is the only one throughout the entire novel that refers to the group by this name, and Lockhart never explains why they’re called this in the first place, nor do we get any inkling of why they go by this name (which is super confusing when the main character is constantly referring to herself as a liar and you’re like, girl what?). According to Lockhart, the section of the book that explains why the group are called ‘The Liars’ was removed by the publishers as they said it made the book feel slow and they wanted to keep it fast paced. Therefore we’re left with a title that makes no sense and throughout the story we’re left wondering why this name is relevant and how it even came about. But there you go!
Another problem you could encounter with this book is the fact there are a lot of different characters and names to follow, and what makes it harder is the fact they’re not separated by much since they’re all family members or family friends – there’s nothing to really distinguish them. Even though we’re given a family tree at the beginning of the novel, the other family members aren’t really explored throughout the book and therefore their children are hard to pick out from one another, because you can’t remember which aunty / uncle etc. they belong to. Does that make sense? If you really concentrate at the beginning of the novel when the characters are first introduced they do become a bit easier to follow, but in order to have a smooth flowing story I feel like you’d have to study everything in great detail, which nobody has time for when just simply wanting to read the book.
This book was very to the point for me – like I said it was a lot shorter than I expected. I don’t feel like there was much character development across any of the characters – even Cady. Even though there are 4 main characters in this book, I don’t feel like any of them were explored enough and therefore developed the way they should have been, meaning that the whole story could have elicited so many more feelings in me but due to lack of character development, I just wasn’t invested enough. The story is extremely random, and even though I understood it and understood why everything happened, I still found myself reading it and feeling like I needed more, the book could have been so much longer in my opinion – Lockhart had the opportunity to really create a story and I just feel like that was wasted. The whole thing was just very main point main point main point main point like nothing else existed outside of that, which I wasn’t such a fan of. We’re also presented with an unreliable narrator which made the book a little difficult for me when I was trying to get a feel for the other characters because like I said, there’s not really much background, it’s just main point main point unreliable narration main point unreliable narration main point main point.
I felt like I was in a fog when reading this, almost like I was 99% with the storyline but there was just that one part clouding my mind up – like I said, there are so many different characters, names and places that are thrown at us pretty much instantly and my brain found it difficult to pick them up and then know instantly who /what Lockhart was talking about when she referred back to them later on. The book is short and in terms of length would take only a couple of hours to read however, if you really want to come to grips with the storyline, I think it would take a lot longer.
Saying this however, I did enjoy the book and I do like it, I just feel like there was an opportunity missed here – especially with the map and family tree and legacy etc., I feel like so much more could have been done with the story and the people in it, but there we go!
And that’s all I’ve got for now loves! Hope you enjoyed, let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you think!
All my love,