As you probably know, the Big Read’s 2022 book selection is Circe by Madeline Miller. Our program also selected several middle-grade books and a little grade book. One of our big-grade and middle-grade reads is a version of Homer’s The Odyssey.
You may be wondering why our program selected this book. It is not exactly the kind of book that someone picks up from a library shelf and starts reading. If it had not been for my 11th grade English class, I probably would not have read it.
One reason we chose this book is because of this very reason. Many high school curriculums use this text in their curriculum and it pairs well with Circe. Miller’s book retells portions of The Odyssey from Circe’s point of view. Circe is a villainous character that is a barrier to Odysseus, the main character of The Odyssey. It is important to take the time to understand different perspectives and pairing these pieces together allows our lakeshore readers to do that.
Many of our student participants will be reading this in school with a teacher to guide them through the tricky content. Yet, if you are thinking of reading this on your own, then choosing Garth Hinds graphic novel version of The Odyssey may help you understand the story in an accessible way. There is also a version by Gillian Cross that gives illustrations along with the narrative text of The Odyssey.
Our program aims to inspire lakeshore readers to read texts that push them and help them understand important themes within literature. The Odyssey does this by incorporating the hero’s journey, a better understanding of Greek mythology and culture, themes of pride, loyalty, and vengeance, and many other reasons.
We hope you will join us now and at our events as we unpack all of these themes and topics!