Miscellanea, Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar
defined my high school years. I’ve shared this before, but I used to make any guy who was interested in dating me read this book first. It was surprisingly effective in weeding out guys who had no genuine (as in appreciate my intellect) interest. Looking back, I’m impressed that any guy ever read it at all.

If The Bell Jar defined the literary portion of my teenage years, than the modern The Taming of the Shrew adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You defined the film portion of my teenage years (and Clueless and The Boondock Saints and Cube…). I loved it and I desperately wanted Julia Stiles’ hair. This was the first film I watched starring Heath Ledger. He was an actor I came to generally enjoy watching (save A Knight’s Tale). I now probably most closely associate him with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (even though he played The Joker).

And while I am neither a Batman fan, nor a Superman fan, I recently read and enjoyed Red Son by Mark Millar, a comic set in an alternate world that asks the question “What if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?” and features possibly my favorite character so far this year – Soviet Batman.

Six Degrees The Bell Jar

Keeping with the Soviet theme, one of my favorite Bond novels – and certainly my favorite Bond novel featuring the Soviet Union and a Cold War plot (involving Nazism and rocket science, of course) – is Moonraker by Ian Fleming. It’s a good book, but for the love of all that’s holy don’t judge it by its adaptation. Not quite the worst Bond film ever made (not that that’s much of a distinction), but close…

On the other hand, one of my favorite Soviet-related films – based on a book I disliked – is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, directed by Stanley Kubrick. I was thrilled to discover that the film was based on the Cold War thriller Red Alert by Peter George. Let’s just say it takes the term “loosely based” to the extreme. I was disappointed in the book, but regardless, I was impressed with the film.

Another Kubrick film I was impressed with, though it was also a truly terrible adaptation, was The Shining. The Shining was based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Recently, Joss Whedon wrote a film that is being described as “the rom-com version of The Shining”. More importantly, in this case, is Whedon’s charming and delightful work on his recent adaptation of my favorite Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.

So there you have it, from The Bell Jar to Much Ado About Nothing in six easy steps. I should subtitle mine “the movie edition”. Please keep in mind that anyone can join in – and this means you should, whether you’ve read it or not – just follow the rules below. And thanks to Annabel and Emma for hosting.

Where would you go from The Bell Jar?

#6Degrees Rules


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  • http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    So obviously if I don’t re-read The Bell Jar quick smart, you might not let me be your friend any more… But does it come before Stephen King and Empire Falls?

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      Well, I wouldn’t have dated you…

      As an adult, no, no it does not. I now also rank Jane Eyre higher than The Bell Jar and I always thought it would be required reading for any potential partners. I’ve never adhered to that, despite my best intentions.

      • http://annabelsmith.tumblr.com/ Annabel Smith

        I remember the ‘share your favourite book with your crush’ vibe. I remember buying a copy of On The Road for a guy I was keen on, with my favourite parts underlined!

      • http://annabelsmith.tumblr.com/ Annabel Smith

        I can’t think of many guys who would be into Jane Eyre OR The Bell Jar – both books are so intensely focused on womens’ experiences.

        • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

          Jane Eyre has been a tough sell, but I got a surprising number of men to read The Bell Jar. I felt both smug and like a superhero. Anyway, I pretty sure it has entirely to do with length – 240 vs. 500+ pages.

  • http://Pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk Tracy Terry

    A great meme, that I’m also having lots of fun doing. A great selection, its amazing the different leaps our minds make.

  • http://cheapthrillsbookblog.wordpress.com Charleen

    I was thinking before I opened this, “If I were doing that Six Degrees thing, my first connection would have to be to The Taming of the Shrew,” and then you went and did it. Of course mine is solely because Julia Stiles is reading the book in the movie… but since I’ve never read it, my choices for association are somewhat limited.

    Also, I’m curious about this “rom-com Shining” by Joss Whedon.

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      I completely forgot that’s the book she’s reading! I can’t believe that, I love that movie. Now I feel like my connection is doubly secure.

      I remember Patrick’s looking for his copy of The Feminine Mystique, which always makes me laugh.

      The movie is “In Your Eyes”, it’s supposed to be decent.

      • http://annabelsmith.tumblr.com/ Annabel Smith

        There should be a name for when one degree of separation is actually a two-in-one.

  • http://www.bookishlyboisterous.blogspot.com Christine @ BookishlyB

    I ended at The Road! These are so great.

    • http://annabelsmith.tumblr.com/ Annabel Smith

      Awesome! I have to see yours. I can’t remember the name of your blog.

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      This means you’ll actually have to post it – I want to know how you got to post-apocalyptic literature from women’s depression.

  • http://booksnobbery.wordpress.com sj

    Maaaaan, I read The Bell Jar my senior year of high school cos the boy I had the HUGEST CRUSH on would only agree to read my then-favourite book (1984) if I read his.

    • http://annabelsmith.tumblr.com/ Annabel Smith

      I remember the ‘share your favourite book with your crush’ vibe. I remember buying a copy of On The Road for a guy I was keen on, with my favourite parts underlined!

      • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

        Annabel, I once read Clive Cussler for a guy. It was the most chauvinistic piece of literature I’d ever read. Surprisingly I liked it, though I’m scared to wonder what that says about me.

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      I knew I wasn’t the only one pushing the literature-for-a-date exchange. I’ve never met a boy whose favorite book was The Bell Jar, but I suspect I’d like him.

  • http://www.marelden.com maria helena

    I love your chain. I ended up with Under the Dome.

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      I hope you posted it, I’m always up for anything that includes Stephen King.

  • http://www.bookdout.wordpress.com shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

    An interesting chain, I linked all my choices by an overall theme too. Oh and The Knights Tale is my favourite movie starring Heath Ledger!

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      I loved that movie when I was a teenager, not so much anymore, but nostalgia counts for a lot.

  • http://52booksorbust.wordpress.com tanya (52 books or bust)

    I love this meme so much. It totally makes sense. Thanks.

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      I like how different it is too.

  • http://theallureofbooks.com Allison (Allure of Books)

    I love how you connected these! Especially both of your Shakespeare plays.

    You know – I don’t think I’ve ever actually read The Taming of the Shrew. I should do that one of these days!

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      I was happy to get two Shakespeare plays in and not right beside each other. I felt quite brilliant.

      Not really, but it would’ve been nice. Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite WS, but The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear are a close second.

  • http://wordsforworms.com Katie @ Words For Worms

    I love this so hard, particularly that you connected The Bell Jar to Taming of the Shrew through 10 Things I Hate About you… And Julia Stiles’ hair. Those were some glorious locks.

    • http://fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory

      Weren’t they? I was so jealous.

      I loved (and still love) 10 Things I Hate About You, right down to the soundtrack.

  • http://wensend.com Wendy @ Wensend

    What a great meme this is. I’ve never heard of it before. I still want to read The Bell Jar ánd The Shining!

  • http://www.readingonarainyday.com/ Athira

    Wow! Love this post! I like how you linked these six books.

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