Category Archives: classic

Mini Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

thebelljarHow have I gotten this far through life without anyone forcing me to read this book?? I started reading a friend’s copy and instantly felt compelled to highlight meaningful bits as I moved along. I had to acquire my own copy as I knew it would become a staple that lives on my bookshelf forever. My lovely friend (thanks Gabe!) bought me a copy while I visiting Brooklyn for the holidays. I love love loved this and felt like Plath describes a specific depression experience in young adulthood well. Since I also spent a bit of a time in New York in my early 20s and felt out of place while interning whilst all of my friends loved the glam of the city, I found those bits intriguing. I don’t particularly recommend reading this during the winter gloomy season as the holidays are approaching, as that time is already dark enough without needing something to plunge yourself deeper, but I’m not sure I would’ve liked it nearly as much if I had read it during a summery time.

Selected quotes:

“Either I got better, or I fell, down, down, like a burning, then burnt-out star.” (p. 209)

“I didn’t want my pictures taken because I was going to cry. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.”(p. 100-101)

“I felt now that all the uncomfortable suspicions I had about myself were coming true, and I couldn’t hide the truth much longer. After nineteen years of running after good marks and prizes and grants of one sort and another, I was letting up, slowing down, and dropping clean out of the race.” (p. 29)

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” (p. 59)

lord of the flies by william golding

Lord of the FliesAs I’ve done with some other audiobook reviews, I would like to state that the following review is strictly for the audiobook version of Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The version of the audiobook that I listened to was read by the author, William Golding, and featured an author preface and notes from the author at the conclusion of the story.

I decided to read Lord of the Flies because it’s mentioned within so many YA novels as being a classic novel that high school students are required to read in school and subsequently is weaved into the plot line of whatever contemporary YA book that mentions it. The most recent book that actually caused me to read the book was Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King, which references Lord of the Flies plot points frequently and forced me to realize that this was a significant part of popular culture that I knew nothing about.

After being on the wait list for the physical book at my library for months, I decided to download the audiobook. The version I downloaded from my library is narrated by the author and very much feels like a grandfather reading you a nighttime tale before you drift to sleep… except the concepts within this novel are much, much darker. The main narrative illustrates what could hypothetically happen if a bunch of young boys are left alone on an island to fend for themselves, surrender to their own human nature, and together enact a survival of the fittest mentality.

The novel has been criticized for solely featuring young boys within the work and lacking any female characters. In the foreword by Golding, he states that girls and women aren’t included in the book because Golding himself has only ever been a boy and thus felt like he couldn’t begin to represent the experience of a girl; this foreword automatically put a poor taste in my mouth before I even ventured into the actual story. Because the book only featured young boys and because the author is not a trained narrator, it was completely impossible to mentally separate any of the dialogue of the characters from each other and to form a mental map of the different qualities of these characters. Each of the characters was narrated with the same voice and the dialogue frequently jumped around without being followed by stating which character said certain things. Thus, I feel like I wasn’t able to really follow the flow of the story or become invested in any of the characters, other than the legendary Piggy. Even the darkest points of the novel weren’t associated with much feeling from me as a reader because of how the audiobook was narrated.

Of the classics that are frequently assigned to most Americans in high school, this is not one that I recommend to you if you’re able to choose whether or not you read this book and I definitely do not recommend it in the format with the narrator reading the audiobook.

What are your favorite classics that were assigned reads for you while you were in school? I recently acquired To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which I somehow haven’t read yet and am very much looking forward to starting it soon!

Original Publication Date: 17 September 1954 by Faber & Faber. Audiobook published by Listening Library.

Author/Narrator: Sir William Golding web

peter pan by j. m. barrie

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie audiobook cover

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie audiobook cover

After being completely obsessed with Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter audiobooks, I sought a new read that he also narrated. Luckily, I quickly found a match on my to-read list in the form of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.

I’ve had a small fascination with Peter Pan for a while, likely connected to the fact that some writers have deemed my generation the “Peter Pan generation” because of our desire to be children for a lengthier period of time than our predecessors. However, instead of attempting to stay a child forever, I dove-tailed a teensy bit and decided to immerse myself into the world of children’s culture and media as my occupation. Subsequently, I’ve been trying to read some of the children’s literature classics that I haven’t read yet and dive back into those I really want to re-read.

While I was in high school, I had tried to read Peter Pan in physical book form and couldn’t get into it at all because I felt like it was too childishly written and I wasn’t in a mental space to appreciate that. To me, it felt like a story that needed to be told to me, which makes sense since the story was originally written as a play and thus felt like it needed to be performed in some way for me to appreciate it. Later that year, I saw Peter Pan performed in San Francisco the summer before I left for college… and let’s just say, I felt quite a few emotions.

That said, there are parts of the text that are definitely dated which makes it hard for me to recommend this book as a read for children who aren’t aware enough to understand the historical and social climate that existed when this text was first published. When most American individuals read novels like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, they are likely reading it as part of a middle or high school curriculum with English teachers who explain the historical and social context that existed when the novel was written. When most people encounter the story of Peter Pan in whatever format they consume, they are too young to understand some of the dated language (every time the phrase “red skins” was used I cringed). Thus for those younger audiences (2-12 year olds), I think they should encounter a newer version rather than the original text that has adjusted some of the language and removed some of the racial undertones that seep into the story. Unfortunately, I haven’t read such a version so I’m not able to recommend a specific publication. Because of this, I think the best time to listen to this book is when you’re a young adult, perhaps reflecting on your own experience with childhood, but are also aware enough to recognize some of the faults that exist within the original text.

If you choose to read Peter Pan, I definitely recommend reading the story in audiobook format, specifically the Jim Dale version if possible, over a physical copy.

On that note: if you have any recommendations for other literary works performed by Jim Dale, please send them my way!

Original Publication Date: 11 October 1911 by Scribner. Format: Digital Audiobook from Listening Library.

Author: J. M. Barrie wiki

Narrator: Jim Dale web