This year our Big Read Lakeshore selection is Circe by Madeline Miller. We have a number of middle read and little read books that incorporate the theme of the Hero’s Journey. We believe that it is important to read literature in order to learn about and from the experiences of others – our 2022 chosen books provide ample opportunity for conversation about this! 

About the Author: 

Madeline Miller was born in New York City and then moved to Philadelphia. Throughout her childhood, she recalls loving museums in the city and was drawn to exhibits about the Egyptians, Romans, and Ancient Greeks. 

Later, she attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. She has taught and tutored Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students for over fifteen years. Furthermore, Miller has studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama. 

Her first novel, The Song of Achilles, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. Her second novel, Circe, was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller and won several awards including the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award. 

Background on Circe: 

Madeline Miller’s Website gives some background information on Circe in the introduction to a Photo Essay that explains: 

“Circe, the witch who turns Odysseus’ men to pigs, has proved one of Homer’s most memorable creations. We first meet the goddess in book 10 of the Odyssey, living on her lush, deserted island of Aiaia, surrounded by tame wolves and lions. When Odysseus’ ship lands on her shore, she gives the crew wine mixed with spell-drugs, then transforms them to pigs. When Odysseus comes to rescue them, she attempts to give him the same potion, but he is protected by magical herbs, courtesy of Hermes. Circe and Odysseus become lovers, and Odysseus and his men (returned to their regular shape) dally in luxury on her island for a year.”

“It is no surprise, given such a vivid story, that Circe has proved irresistible to generations of artists. Below is a sample of the many faces our favorite witch has worn over the millennia.” 

Madeline Miller’s Photo Essay at www.madelinemiller.com/circe/circe-photo-essay/

Circe is an infamous Greek figure and this book includes many other Greek figures like Odysseus, Greek gods and goddesses, Prometheus, and Scylla and Charybdis. 

This map shows where Circe’s Island likely would have been in context to the ancient Greek world. 

Where to Find More Information About Circe: 

Are you interested in learning more about Circe? This video features Madeline Miller as she answers questions about her book. You could also check out her website for more information. 

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