I got behind on writing about the books I’ve read and a few recent ones were too good not to share…
1. “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See” by Juliann Garey
“People with mental illness enrich our lives.” I’d like to take credit for that quote but it’s attributable to NAMI, who acknowledge accomplished persons with depression or bi-polar disorder including: Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Vivien Leigh, Winston Churchill, and Sylvia Plath.
A new name can be added to the list: Juliann Garey. As she discusses in her blog, Garey is bipolar. She’s also one amazing writer. In her debut novel, “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See,” she has created the mentally unstable character, Greyson Todd, and she tells his story as intimately as a memoir. The reader gets a realistic look at life with bipolar disorder. I hope Garey’s novel brings understanding and removes the stigma of this mental illness that affects millions of Americans.
2. “Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love” by Barbara J. Winter
If you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body – heck, even any inclination at all to becoming self-employed – READ THIS BOOK. Originally published in 1993, Winter released a revised and updated version in 2009. Admittedly, in the beginning I wanted to give up on this book because it wasn’t full of the basic information on implementing your ideas. Then I realized, that is exactly what makes this book indispensable. Winter shows you how to find your passions and what you can do to make a living with them. Ultimately, I did have a hard time finishing this book – but only because to read it I had to stop writing down all of the creative ideas her writing was inspiring.
I highly recommend at least checking out this book on Amazon. (Some reviewers say it changed their lives but that’s expecting a bit much of a book, isn’t it?) Also, find Barbara Winter online at joyfullyjobless.com.
3. “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” by Elizabeth L. Silver
This book is full of the strangest similes you’ll ever read, such as: “Marlene twisted her neck like the top of a soda bottle opening.” Or: “Thirteen individuals, marinating in the enclosed jury box like a carton of dried-out fruit.” And: “A smirk seeped out between my lips like an unsuspecting belch.”
Aside from those jarring and distracting attempts at making this book a literary novel, I found the conclusion infuriating and the reveal of the crime ridiculous. Without spoilers, I can say that the characters’ actions made no sense and I wish my book club would read it – only so I could enumerate them specifically. Still, the book does have some merits. With better editing, it could have been outstanding.
I’ve read “The Bell Jar” and Plath’s poetry, even a biography or two before, but 2013 saw the release of a few books based on new research (namely, “Pain Parties Work” and “American Isis”). Now I’m devouring any book I can get my hands on about Sylvia Plath.
4. “Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953” by Elizabeth Winder
A must read for all fans of “The Bell Jar.” Everyone knows TBJ was a mostly autobiographical account of the summer Plath spent as a guest editor at Mademoiselle and her subsequent nervous breakdown. Winder’s book is a detailed account of Sylvia as she was in 1953 – very detailed: she wore Cherries in the Snow lipstick by Revlon – and the glitz and glamour of her days in New York. What makes this book exceptional is that much of its material comes from interviews personally conducted by Winder of the people who were actually there, sharing in the experience with Plath.
5. “Giving Up: The Last Days of Sylvia Plath” by Jillian Becker
This is a brief memoir written by the woman who hosted Plath and her children as guests in her home the days preceding her suicide.
6. “Her Husband: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath – A Marriage” by Diane Middlebrook
An account of the marriage of two of the most important poets in the twentieth century. This book gives their poetry an emotional and creative framework with which to analyze them. Hughes and Plath had a complicated and compelling story, and Middlebrook tells it beautifully.
I’m currently reading “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath” edited by Karen V. Kukil and “American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath” by Carl Rollyson, an exciting book based on materials from the newly-opened Ted Hughes archive. I’m anxiously awaiting the November release of “Sylvia Plath: Drawings,” a collection of her pen-and-ink artwork. Plath’s daughter, Frieda Hughes, wrote the introduction and provided Plath’s journal entries to give the illustrations context.