8 Best Books Like The Bell Jar Update 05/2022

Books Like The Bell Jar

After Plath’s suicide in 1963, The Bell Jar became a semi-autobiographical account of Plath’s personal struggles with depression and bipolar disorder while she was a young woman. One of the best depictions of mental illness in literature currently published is the novel, which compares the crippling feeling of depression to suffocating under a bell jar. Despite the fact that Plath’s novel and writing have certainly inspired many writers, it can be difficult to find books like The Bell Jar that so expertly portray what it is like to live with a mental illness.

Plath’s tragic death came just a few months after the original publication of her novel, but she has had a lasting impact on the literary community. These eight titles are excellent starting points if you’re looking for books that are similar to The Bell Jar.

Books like The Bell Jar

Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kayse

Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kayse

For those looking for books similar to The Bell Jar, Susanna Kaysen’s 1993 novel Girl, Interrupted, which is perhaps best known for its 1999 feature-film adaptation, is a great place to begin.

A young Susanna Kaysen chronicles her struggle with depression and borderline personality disorder in this poignant memoir set in the 1960s. Sylvia Plath herself was a patient at McLean Psychiatric Hospital in the book, which details her experiences there.

The book expertly describes the isolating effect that a young woman’s mental illness can have, as well as how those with mental illnesses were treated in the 1960s. A critique of how attitudes toward mental health have (or haven’t) changed, like The Bell Jar, is still relevant today.

Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Like The Bell Jar and Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel’s 1994 memoir follows a young writer who is struggling with mental illness. Although the 2001 film version starring Christina Ricci made this book famous, the ink and paper original is still well worth reading, especially if you’re looking for something similar to The Bell Jar but set in the present day instead of the 19th century.

Like Esther in The Bell Jar, the book follows a young Elizabeth Wurtzel as she battles depression as a Harvard University student and later as a New York City-based writer.

For the second time, the book focuses on attitudes toward mental illness and the stigma that is attached to those who are depressed. Despite the fact that society has made significant progress in normalizing chemical imbalances and gaining a better understanding of mental illness, it is clear that much work remains.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 short story The Yellow Wallpaper is an excellent choice if you’re looking for books like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

With her well-intentioned but misguided husband, a young woman slowly descends into madness in this story. She and her husband have decided to spend the summer in a country home in order to recover from a “temporary nervous depression” and a “slight hysterical tendency.” The protagonist is distressed by the yellow wallpaper on the walls of the room they have chosen, which he believes will aid her recovery.

As the story progresses, she gradually devolves into madness due to her increasing paranoia over why the wallpaper is torn. Women’s mental illness in the late 19th century was brought to light by this story, which has been subjected to numerous feminist interpretations since.

In the wake of its influence, The Yellow Wallpaper is still widely studied today, and if you want to learn more about Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar, you should read The Yellow Wallpaper first.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chobosky’s seminal work, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is a modern take on the classic The Bell Jar. Teenage Charlie is an introverted high school freshman dealing with the death of his best friend in the aftermath of this 1999 novel’s publication.

Since its publication, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has helped its readers better understand the isolating effects that depression and mental illness have on young people.

If you’re looking for books that are similar to Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar, but with a happier ending, then The Perks of Becoming a Wallflower is a great place to start.

Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

If you’re looking for books like The Bell Jar by Virginia Woolf, consider her 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway, one of her most well-known works. The day of socialite Clarissa Dalloway is chronicled in this novel’s first-person point of view as she contends with the social expectations of her time and class.

Septimus, a shell-shocked WWI veteran, and the novel’s critique of how mental illness was handled in the early 20th century are both reminiscent of The Bell Jar. Septimus’ PTSD may have been inspired by Woolf’s own battles with bipolar disorder, as was the case with The Bell Jar’s Septimus.

Similarly, Mrs. Dalloway, like The Bell Jar, did a great deal in its day to raise awareness of the inner struggles that many people face with mental illness and the work that can be done to help those in need.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini

You might enjoy Ned Vizzini’s 2006 novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story if you’re looking for a book like The Bell Jar that explores the difficulties of dealing with depression and other mental health issues.

When Craig, a 15-year-old high school student, begins experiencing suicidal thoughts, he is taken to a psychiatric hospital where he is treated for his mental health issues. The story revolves around Craig, a patient in a psych ward, and the relationships he forms while there, as well as the lessons he learns about self-care.

On a par with The Bell Jar, Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story tells the story of his own childhood experiences in an institution for the insane. Although he never fully recovered from his depression, like Plath herself, he ended his life tragically in 2013.

Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

When it comes to depictions of mental illness, John Green’s 2017 novel Turtles All the Way Down is one of the best in print today, even though it isn’t a direct sequel to The Bell Jar.

Aza Holmes, a high school student with OCD and crippling anxiety, is the focus of Turtles All the Way Down. With OCD, John Green uses his own personal experience to accurately portray what it’s like to suffer from this debilitating mental illness, which is frequently misunderstood by the general public and frequently depicted incorrectly in the media.

It’s not just about the struggle with mental illness that makes Turtles All the Way Down such an engaging and moving story. Many of the themes in this book revolve around how to cope with grief and the importance of having a strong support system of friends and family.

See our list of books like Looking for Alaska if you’re a John Green fan.

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher

For those who are looking for books like The Bell Jar, Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher may not be the first choice. However, the late Fisher’s memoir provides a candid, self-deprecating, and humorous depiction of what it’s like to live with a mental illness while in the public eye.

Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, being the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and her exceptional wit and talent as a performer, writer, and comedian made Carrie Fisher a household name.

With refreshing candor, Fisher reveals how she overcame her bipolar disorder and how she was able to lead a normal life, despite the disorder. Bipolar disorder and mental illness in general were de-stigmatized as a result of Fisher’s candor about her own struggles with mental illness. The Prozac capsule-shaped urn was just one example of how open she was about her treatment for her mental health issues.

The Wishful Drinking book by Carrie Fisher provides an infinitely more humorous depiction of mental illness without trivializing the difficulties.

Although it can be difficult to locate books like The Bell Jar that accurately portray mental illness and do so in an empathetic manner, there are a number of them available that can both comfort those who suffer from mental illness and educate those who do not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.