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Stories from BOA Readers: #BOATurns40

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Elizabeth Crummins | Rochester, NY

To me, the books that I care for most of all, whose titles rise to the top of my mind when I am asked for a list of my favorites, share a feeling rather than a writing style or similarly-minded characters. I read them wanting to soak in their words until there are none left, willing my eyes to skim the pages as fast as they possibly can, but at the same time I want to slow to a snail's pace, taking in words that by themselves seem mundane but when strung together become something beautiful. I find myself searching for this feeling in every book I pick up, but while I enjoy the vast majority of what I read, a select few have made this permanent impact.

While I don't remember when or how I first came to read it, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar is one of the works that I hold in such high esteem. Her story, semi-autobiographical, hovers between the comfort of fiction and the pain of reality. Knowing the nature of Plath's death, my heart is both broken by her protagonist's struggle and stitched back together by the comforting flow of the writing itself. Given the amount of poetry Plath is known for, it is no surprise that even in prose her tone has an almost-musical rhythm. Rather than take away from the serious nature of the story, the words create a haunting work of art that leaves me every time I read it with one line making slow circles around my head:

"I am, I am, I am."
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