In association with publishers Faber and Faber we have selected five lucky reading groups to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Sylvia Plath's modern classic, The Bell Jar.
Bath-based 'Reading in the Bath' reading group; 'Rampant Readers' from Leicester; the all-male 'Hertfordshire Book Group'; young Reading Activists from Portsmouth's Beddow Library and young readers from Rugby School in Warwickshire will now review and blog about the book throughout 2013. They will be given sets of Faber's special 50th anniversary edition of Plath's acclaimed novel, which follows New York fashion magazine intern Esther Greenwood's dreams of becoming a writer and her struggles with work; difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously, setting her life sliding out of control.
The five chosen reading groups will also have special access to online resources and content from Faber and Faber during the course of the project, including archive photographs and cover galleries and an online timeline and biography of Sylvia Plath's life.
We brokered this special project with Faber and Faber, one of our 40 publisher partners. Reading groups across the UK were invited to apply via our Reading Groups For Everyone website: the five participating groups were chosen to span both generations and gender following a strong response, with 31 groups applying.
"We're really excited about being involved in this project as it gives us a chance to re engage with The Bell Jar, a classic book which many of us read as teenagers. It will be interesting to see how different our understanding of it will be now we are all older," says Sarah Ormes on behalf of 'Reading in the Bath' reading group.
Sandeep Mahal, who leads our partnership work to link publishers and libraries, says: "The socialisation of reading is being fuelled by fascinating new blends of online and offline reading experiences, and this is reflected in the terrific response from reading groups wanting to take part in this project. We'll be working closely with the five chosen groups to gather opinion and generate discussion about The Bell Jar's relevance in today's world, and how it feels to rediscover a novel that has been so important to so many young readers. The groups will be looking at the writer, the text and the potency of its subject matter, and talking about them online, alongside a real time, physical reading experience in their local library. What a great opportunity to revisit and celebrate the enduring appeal of Sylvia Plath's work!"
Sarah Savitt, paperbacks manager for publishers Faber, says: "Sylvia Plath is one of Faber's key writers and it's fantastic to be partnering with The Reading Agency during the 50th anniversary year for The Bell Jar. That the novel remains relevant and loved and passionately discussed by readers of all ages is wonderful and we can't wait to hear from the readers involved in this project. Faber is committed to working with libraries and reading groups and this is one of our most exciting collaborations so far."
Have you ever read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath? What did you think of it? Do you have any advice for the reading groups who are about to start exploring the book? Let us know on twitter and facebook or by emailing email@example.com.
Head to our Reading Groups for Everyone website to find out more about the groups involved.