Six Degrees of Separation: The Bell Jar

May 13, 2014 Six Degrees of Separation 10

G’day Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, but I am forgoing Top Ten Tuesday list making this week in order to make a completely different list! That’s right, I’m talking about the awesome monthly meme, Six Degrees of Separation put on by Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith. This month’s jumping off point is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I read this in college and found it to be crushingly depressing, but that’s fitting, as the main character struggles with depression and likely other mental illnesses. I’m not a psychiatrist, but the poor girl needs help. In any case, it will serve as a fantastic beginning to my Six Degrees of Separation chain!


Ah, The Bell JarAs I mentioned, it’s been a while since I read this book, but what sticks out to me is the heartbreaking struggle with mental illness the main character goes through. Along that line, the first book in my chain is…

1. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen: While reading Esther’s plight I couldn’t help but be reminded of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir Girl, InterruptedWinona Ryder and Angelina Jolie starred in the movie adaptation, and that was when Ms. Jolie won her Oscar. (She also rather creepily kissed her brother on that occasion, but that was before she started saving the world and all.) This leads me to…

2. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates: Why do I make this jump? Angelina Jolie also starred in the film version of Foxfire, which is one of the loosest novel adaptations ever. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie involves the girls giving each other tattoos. This scene doesn’t even occur in the book, but I mention it because it reminds me of a scene in the next book on the list…

3. The Pact by Jodi Picoult: I actually kind of hated this book. It’s about a teenage couple who engage in a supposed suicide pact, but the girl is the only one who dies. The boy is then thrown in jail on suspicion that he murdered his girlfriend. While in jail, he gets a prison tattoo from another inmate using an ink pen and a needle (or was it a safety pin? I can’t remember. Something sharp and not a professional tattoo gun.) Because that’s sanitary. But since we’re talking about jail time…


4. Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman: I just finished this book (I promise I’ll review it for you one day soon) but it’s the memoir of a privileged, white, Ivy League graduate’s time spent in prison thanks to some rotten choices and a drug smuggling conviction. Her crime involved sneaking drug money through an airport, which reminds me of another smuggler’s tale…

5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: (review) How’s about the smuggling of an irreplaceable painting? Theo hauls that poor painting hither and yon across the country. One of my favorite characters in The Goldfinch was the scrappy and seedy Ukranian mafioso of his own design. Boris’s plucky thievery reminded me of nobody so much as The Artful Dodger from…

6. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: The Artful Dodger and Boris both had been dealt rotten hands by fate, but they made the most of things and took on the underworld with aplomb. (review)

There you have it! Six Degrees of Separation: The Bell Jar to Oliver Twist. Crazier things have happened. Probably. I tried asking this question via social media, but I didn’t get a huge response, so here it is again. If Kevin Bacon were a book, what book would he be? (The current leader is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but I’m open to suggestions.)

#6Degrees Rules


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10 Responses to “Six Degrees of Separation: The Bell Jar”

  1. bybee

    Oh, I thought they did do the tattoos in Foxfire. I think I got the movie (the new one that was made in Canada, not Angelina’s version) and the book mixed up. That was a great six degrees!

    • Words For Worms

      Admittedly it’s been a while since I read the book, but I remember thinking “oh when are they gonna do the tattoos?!” And they never did.

  2. Annabel Smith

    Loving your work here. Foxfire sounds interesting – I like JCO – I recently read and was very moved by We Were the Mulvaneys. I’m very keen to read the Goldfinch too.

  3. AMB (Koiviolet)

    What fun! I’m very impressed that you got from The Bell Jar to Oliver Twist. I’ve only read The Goldfinch on this list, probably because I tend to shy away from books that are too depressing (I’ve never been able to finish a Jodi Picoult book).

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