The Bell Jar, Harper, 2006
This is a must read. When I started writing this book I just wanted to end up with something like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, because in Traveling Mercies it felt like she was free, free to be herself, to tell her story, to just vent, to rant, to speak as if she were talking to a friend. Traveling Mercies helped me write this book, and in a way, for a while, Anne will be "The Beatles" of spiritual writers, because she has influenced so many of us. I definitely feel as though I got permission from Anne Lamott, permission to be human and to interact with God without all of the mind-melt that comes with growing up in a religious family. I never believed it would be published, and so I was pretty open in this book. My career was dead when I started this thing, so I felt like I was just talking to myself, or to the little reading group that met at my house. Sting has this song where he says that he is alone on an island and puts a message in a bottle and throws it into the ocean, only to wake the next morning and have a hundred million bottles washed upon his shore. He sings "I guess I'm not alone at being alone," and I think that sums up how I feel about Blue Like Jazz. It feels like I thought I was alone but woke up one morning to discover nothing could be further from the truth. And people have been incredibly kind.