Books of the Month | Month of the Books #22

“Books are our umbilical cord to life. They connect us deeply, and with more meaning, to the world. They aren’t about escaping from ourselves but expanding ourselves and finding within us the tools we need to survive.”— Matt Haig



The novel chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.



Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Her books include the poetry collections The Colossus, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, Ariel, and The Collected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Plath is credited with being a pioneer of the 20th-century style of writing called confessional poetry. Her poem Daddy is one of the best-known examples of this genre.

In 1963, Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar was published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas; it was reissued in 1966 under her own name. She was married to the poet Ted Hughes, with whom she had a daughter, Frieda, and a son, Nicholas. Plath committed suicide in London in 1963.





A love story of astonishing power, the acclaimed modern literary classic by the beloved Nobel Prize-win­ning author.

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Floren­tino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her hus­band dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.



Gabriel García Márquez (1927 - 2014) was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwri­ter, and journalist. Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century, particu­larly in the Spanish language, he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.

García Márquez is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Love in the Time of Cholera.

His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style known as magic realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situa­tions. Some of his works are set in the fictional village of Macondo (mainly inspired by his birth­place, Aracataca), and most of them explore the theme of solitude.

Upon García Márquez’s death in April 2014, Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, called him “the greatest Colombian who ever lived.”




A story from one of Japan’s rising literary stars about memory, loss, and love, Touring the Land of the Dead is a mesmerizing combination of two tales, both told with stylistic inventiveness and breathtaking sensitivity.

Taichi was forced to stop working almost a decade ago and since then he and his wife Nat­suko have been getting by on her part-time wages. But Natsuko is a woman accustomed to hardship. When her own family’s fortune dried up years during her childhood, she, her brother, and her mother lived a surreal hand-to-mouth existence shaped by her mother’s refusal to accept their new station in life.

One day, Natsuko sees an ad for a spa and recognizes the place as the former luxury hotel that Natsuko’s grandfather had taken her mother to when she was little. She decides to take her damaged husband to the spa, despite the cost, but their time there triggers hard but ultimately redemptive memories relating to the complicated history of her family and a reconciliation with her husband. Modeled on Junichiro Tanizaki’s classic story, The Makioka Sisters, Ninety-Nine Kisses is the second story in this book and it portrays in touching and lyrical fashion the lives of the four unmarried sisters in a historical, close-knit neigh­borhood of contemporary Tokyo.



Maki Kashimada (1976) is a Japanese writer. Her first novel Two won the 1998 Bungei Prize. Since then, she has established herself as a writer of literary fiction and become known for her avant-garde style. In 2005 she received the Mishima Yukio Prize for Love at 6,000 Degrees Celsius, a novel set in Nagasaki and based on Hiroshima mon amour by Marguerite Duras, and in 2007 she took the Noma Prize for New Writers for Picardy Third. She was nominated three times for the Akutagawa Prize before ultimately garnering the award in 2012 with Touring the Land of the Dead. One of her best-known works is The Kingdom of Zero (2009), which reworks Dostoevsky’s The Idiot into the tale of a saintly idiot in Japan. She has been a follower of the Japanese Orthodox Church since high school and was married to a member of its clergy.




It is almost half a century since his passing, but his love poems still resonate with modern readers and grace bestseller lists. This Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to revisit his gifted verses. Dis­cover the poems that capture the romantic mood of falling in love. These poems will inspire you to remember the beauty and pleasure of romance and share that feeling with your beloved.



Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) was a Chilean poet who was considered by critics and acclaimed writers to be “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” His most well-known work, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924), made him a literary celebrity at the mere age of 20. During his long life, Neruda worked as a journalist, diplomat, political activist, and humanitarian. In 1971, after a lifetime of being internationally renowned for his poetry, Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.