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125 Things Meme: Day 4

Yard sales suck. But I'd perfectly well intended on posting some more of what my mom calls overly depressing books today anyway, before the yard sale, so.... [And my internet crashed the first time I tried to post this, so here goes the second try]

Please note that, yes, today's theme actually does turn out to be suicide in literature. Or, at least, thoughts thereof.


16. The Bell Jar  by Sylvia Plath:

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic

Why you should read it: First off, this has one of the best first lines of a book ever. Second of all, if you've ever felt the slightest bit like you were going crazy, this is the book for you. Because Plath gets it. It's real, it's raw, it's intense, and... well, this is another one of those books I discovered senior year, when one of my classmates was giving a presentation on it. It sounded so interesting and real and alive that I had to read it. So I did. And so should you.

"Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.”

17. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides:

In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.

Why you should read it: Many of the reasons to read this are the same as for The Bell Jar, but it's more than that too. It is about growing up, and that first crush, and the feeling that the world is just coming down around you and you've no idea what to do. Jeffery Eugenides is definately an author to watch.

“It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together. ” 

“We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.” 


18. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley:

Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a "utopian" future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.

Why you should read it: Because everyone should read a dystopian novel once in his/her life? Because it's about freedom and social control and religion and the dark side of science and sex and what goes wrong when you trade everything you have for secruity? Because it's about the beauty of sin? (This is another one of those I discovered senior year; it was a really influential year for me book wise, if you haven't been able to tell.)

“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” 

“I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly.” 


19. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:
Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Why you should read it: Because people lie when they say Atlas Shrugged is the best tale ever written about the individual's struggle against society, and vice versa. This is the ultimate telling of that tale, and is done with such a beautiful simplicity that it's a hearbreaking treasure to read.

“There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.” 

20. Notes from the Underground by Frodor Dotoevsky:

"I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man," the irascible voice of a nameless narrator cries out. And so, from underground, emerge the passionate confessions of a suffering man; the brutal self-examination of a tormented soul; the bristling scorn and iconoclasm of alienated individual who has become one of the greatest antiheroes in all literature. Notes From Underground, published in 1864, marks a turning point in Dostoevsky's writing: it announces the moral political, and social ideas he will treat on a monumental scale in Crime And Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov

Why you should read it: Because it's a far shorter novel than any of Dotoevesky's other major works, but it's also a beautiful prelude to them. It is, in essense, an existentialist prologue - a preface to a movement that wouldn't truely exist for another hundred years, which had yet to be given a name - to everything else he would write. The Meaningfulness in Meaninglessness, at a glance. Powerful, moving, and wholly Russian - and easier for the average (read: not crazy) reader to digest than The Brothers Karamazov or The Idiot. Because everyone must read something by Dotoevesky at least once in his/her life.

“To love is to suffer and there can be no love otherwise.”

“I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.” 


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Hmmm...I am unsure about these. They seem pretty depressing, and I'm pretty easily influenced by what I read.
Er.... The Virgin Suicides isn't actually that depressing? Comparatively?

But I know what you mean. Every time I try to read Shakespeare my writing goes all flowery. It's sad.
LOL Comparatively, huh? Alright, I'll give that one a try. If I walk around in a depressed funk, I'm blaming you :P

But I know what you mean. Every time I try to read Shakespeare my writing goes all flowery. It's sad.

I can't see you writing flowery stuff :P You could argue that they're doing something right, if their work is influencing the reader. I just know after reading sad books and fic, I end to feel sad for at least a day after.

well, I tend to use words like "Thusly" more often than I would normally do while reading Shakespeare. though I use it more than most people would anyway, so it's probably hard to tell.

And just to warn you now, most the books I like aren't very happy at all. or movies. or tv shows. or music. not in a dark, goth sort of way, but mostly in the I don't believe in happy endings sort of way.
but mostly in the I don't believe in happy endings sort of way.

I remember you telling me that *nod* You told me about a super long fic you wrote, and it had happy ending. I remember because it makes me super nervous about the Ancient John verse.
By happy I mean "all the good guys live, the bad guys die, and everyone goes on to have a lot of children in a now utopian society."

I'm more a fan of the realistic endings. Where they win, but it comes at an impossible cost. Or where winning doesn't really change anything at all. Or something along those lines.

Though I should point out that I *also* had a big fight scene start because of misconstrued grammar, so...
Ahh, I see. I might be able to handle that, depending on the cost. When you say "unhappy ending", I get images of character death EVERYWHERE and just this unrelenting angst.
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