My Bookshelf: Radcliffe, Blume, Birdman of Alcatraz, Plath, and Olsen

22 Aug

This is my college reader copy of The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe. This was her third novel, and it was first published in 1791.

Those who love a mystery with elements of the supernatural and impending threats of horror and terror should reach for a Gothic novel.  Radcliffe is a wonderful place to start, as she was the best-selling author of the genre. While she may not be very well known today, she was enormously popular in her day.

Many readers seek out this book because it is referenced in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Interestingly enough, those same readers don’t often enjoy Radcliffe.

Read it online or download it for free. The book is in the public domain.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume should be required reading for every adolescent. Ms. Blume is one of my idols, and I appreciate her ability to write books for children and young adults that are honest and humorous. I bow to Ms. Blume.

Watch Ms. Blume perform the breast-enhancing exercise from the book. Adorable, thy name is Blume.

The Birdman of Alcatraz is a haunting read. Once you’ve been told the story of this man’s life, it will never leave you. Robert Stroud served 54 years in prison, and 43 of them were in solitary confinement.

After  you read the book, watch the 1962 movie of the same name; it is also very good.

The Bell Jar by American poet Sylvia Plath celebrates its 51st year in print. The semi-autobiographical book was published in 1963 in the United Kingdom a month prior to her suicide. She was thirty years old. The first edition was published under Plath’s pseudonym, “Victoria Lucas.” It wouldn’t be published in the United States until 1971. My edition is from 1971.

Her only novel, The Bell Jar is “the heartbreaking story of a talented young woman who descends into madness.”

I think you’ll enjoy reading this interview conducted with Ms. Plath in 1962. I particularly enjoy her answer regarding the types of people she preferred to be around. Writers were not at the top of her list.

This exhibit of photographs features images of Ms. Plath, her family, and her works.

Listen to Ms. Plath read “Tulips” during her  1961 appearance on the BBC radio series, The Poet’s Voice.

 

The Little Locomotive by Ib Spang Olsen, 1976 edition. This little book was/is so dear to me. I loved the personification of the train. I don’t know how I came by this book, but I’m thankful it was always a staple in my room. I’m surprised I was allowed this book, as I’m certain my mother would have viewed it as something more appropriate for a boy. I’d love to know the story behind my coming to own this book.

Watch Ib Spang Olsen, Danish writer and illustrator, draw and paint in this video.

Did you miss the previous peek at my bookshelf?

3 Responses to “My Bookshelf: Radcliffe, Blume, Birdman of Alcatraz, Plath, and Olsen”

  1. D.G. Kaye August 23, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    What a fascinating post JM! I particularly liked the part about Sylvia Plath. I just finished reading that book not long ago and began to understand her darkness through reading. I felt the same way about her “Daddy” poem. Thanks for sharing that interesting interview. Her comment about writers being narcissistic really makes us think. As a nonfiction/memoir writer, I have to wonder if writing about one’s self alludes to narcissism?

    • JMB August 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks, DG! I love finding audio or video of the featured author. I find there is nothing better than hearing their words in their own voice. I do hope classrooms are taking advantage of these opportunities. I know these media files would have made a difference for many of my classmates who felt they just couldn’t connect with the material.

      I think Ms. Plath felt that other writers are always talking about their own works, their journey, etc… and that can lead to very stale conversation and limit the exploration of other topics. Diversity expands the mind of the writer, and that is a very good thing.

      • D.G. Kaye August 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

        Agreed! And, I am enjoying this series of book exploration. 🙂

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