(Down in the) Dumpster Books

I’m coming at you with some book reviews. Thought that it might be a good segue from the last post, before plunging into frivolous beauty talk.

I’ve always put off reading because I claimed that I had no time before. Hence, when I am presented with all the time in world, I don’t really have that excuse anymore. I kicked my ass into reading mode, because it is the one thing I do for fun that doesn’t feel like a waste of time and is enriching.

When I was younger, reading was a form of escapism. The lesser the association to real life, the better. Now, as an adult, I tend to appreciate books that are more “slice of life”. I tend to choose books that are borderline depressing because it’s a great way to commiserate, without dumping your negativity on someone else. Most people would turn to self-help books, or something light-hearted and motivational when they are dealing with any crises. Those books tend to have the opposite effect on me.

So, if you are going through a tough time and are looking to commiserate, wallow in self-pity for a bit, let me suggest three books to help you on your journey.

 

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Start things off with…

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

 

Cannonball straight into the deep end of the pool with this one. Although it claims to be fictional, I can’t help but think that the author’s first novel is very much autobiographical. The narrative follows Esther Greenwood, a prize winning college student being invited for an amazing opportunity in New York. The future seems so bright, doors are opening left and right. Throughout the book, you are in her mind as she spirals from the top and descends into mental illness.

The pace is slow and laborious, so it’s for those days where you feel like wallowing all day. What strikes me most is the imagery she uses. It describes Esther’s feelings so aptly. Feeling as if she is trapped in a glass bell jar, watching the world go by. Sounds and sights are muted but outwardly, she seems so normal. The slow detachment and how each experience is dulled down. Plath makes powerful images that are unnervingly accurate.

The ending wasn’t satisfying to me. Although I have been told that I am very hard to please when it comes to endings. But this one is melancholic and open-ended, as these sort of books are.

We move on to a more thought-provoking title.

 

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Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coehlo

 

Don’t be fooled by the depressing title. It isn’t a tearjerker as one would expect. This book is made for people who want to commiserate and slowly reel themselves out of that rut. It’s a pretty short and digestible novel. The story follows a depressed woman named Veronika, who at the start of the story decides to commit suicide. However, she fails and finds herself in a mental institution. Turns out she didn’t REALLY fail because the doctor tells her that she has one week to live as the doctors couldn’t get to her in time.

You think, “So what?” right? Just a few more days won’t make a difference. But then Veronica starts making connections with the people in the institution. They were people who truly understood her. All of a sudden, that shift in perspective is very powerful. The idea that life is mere banality that stretches on to uncertainty makes death seem like something you just want to get over. However, knowing exactly when the end will come fills each day with a sense of purpose. Knowing how short her time left was and the fact that people thought of her as mad anyways, Veronica felt liberation as she lived each day like she has nothing to lose.

And she really didn’t.

The book became a lot more uplifting than I expected it to be. Which is both good and bad. As much as there were poignant moments in the book. I kinda felt as if I was tricked into reading a very well-disguised self-help book of some sort. Hence, why I would recommend it for people looking for ways out of negativity.

 

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Finally there’s…

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak.

 

God, this book is amazing. It’s an incredibly deep and thoughtful book for a young adult novel. You kind of have to suspend reality for a moment when reading this one because the fact that Ed Kennedy was somehow “chosen” to be a messenger and how he somehow accepts his tasks willingly seems unlikely in real life. Basically, Ed is an underage taxi driver, completely average guy, trying to make ends meet. Until one day, he was instantly turned into a hero when he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That was when the first Ace was delivered to him and he became a “messenger”.

This book is simple but incredibly well written. Ed meets a diverse variety of characters while he executes his tasks as a messenger and you see each and every character’s struggle. This book puts your own misery into perspective. There is a need to realise that everyone is struggling in some way or another. Though it is unhealthy to compare, it is good to be aware and realise that you are not alone.

Ed is a lovable protagonist, just in the fact that he is SO ordinary. Which is precisely his charm. You relate with him and realize that small acts make a hero too.

 

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There you go, 3 books for when you are feeling depressed. I always felt that its good to acknowledge your feelings and really simmer in them. Sometimes, you don’t feel like talking to people about your problems.

Books are the best in those situations because not only do they provide escapism, they also provide commiseration without actual social interaction. The ones I mentioned are profound and wise, like an old friend that has been through a lot. They give you new perspectives and even a little push to get out of that rut.

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