Our longest running book group brings together readers who enjoy discussing and sharing insights about a single title each month. Facilitated conversations are lively, intelligent, and insightful. The titles are mostly fiction, with one nonfiction choice included each year. The group chooses titles for the coming year by ballot in the spring. Book discussions are held on the third Wednesday of the month, September through June (no July or August meetings), and all adult patrons enthusiastic about reading and talking about books are invited to join us as often as they can. Before each meeting, you can pick up your copy for the next month’s discussion at the Circulation Desk. If you have questions, please contact Karen Stern at stern@noblenet.org.

 

Next Meeting: October 21, 2020, 7:00 pm (virtually with an emailed link from the coordinator)
To Discuss: Circe by Madeline Miller

An old story made modern, about a woman coming into her own. In the house of Helios, god of the sun, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother, but turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power, and, feeling threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her craft and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology. But there is danger for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. Nominated 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Madeline Miller (from the author’s website, madeleinemiller.com) Madeline Miller grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. 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. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms.

The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. Miller was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year. Her second novel, Circe, was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller, and won the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award and the Indies Choice Best Audiobook of the Year Award, as well as being shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Circe also won The Red Tentacle Award, an American Library Association Alex Award (adult books of special interest to teen readers), and the 2018 Elle Big Book Award. It is currently being adapted for a series with HBO Max. Miller’s novels have been translated into over twenty-five languages, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Telegraph, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. She currently lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

To Think About While You Read: It could be argued that Miller sets out to subvert ancient Greek literature and traditional Greek mythology in this book. She retells tales from the Odyssey (eg Circe turning men into pigs) and describes the Minotaur, Daedelus, and the Furies, among others, in radically different ways from the original tales. Does Miller make you feel differently about those old stories? If so, how? [If you’re feeling like it’s been a while since you knew anything about the gods, goddesses, and heroes try theoi.com for a quick primer. To get a flavor of the importance of Homer’s Odyssey if you’ve never read it, try this article from BBC Culture and to read the story from The Odyssey of Circe turning men into swine try this translation from perseus.tufts.edu.]

Web Articles for Further Reading:

Circe by Madeline Miller review – myth, magic and single motherhood by Aida Edemariam, theguardian.com, Sat 21 Apr 2018.

Circe by Madeline Miller Review by Miriam Al Jamil, lucywritersplatform.com, 10 December, 2018.

A collection of Reviews of Circe by Madeline Miller from lithub.com.

madelinemiller.com – for more about the author and her other work, visit her website.

 

2020-21 SCHEDULE (No Meetings in July and August)
2020-2021 discussion titles were voted on by group members in May 2020. Click each title for more information from our catalog.
October  21        Circe by Madeline Miller
November 18     The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
December 16      Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
January 20          Lanny by Max Porter
February 17        A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia Purnell
March 17            Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
April 21              Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
May 19               House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
June 16              Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Previous Discussions (1998 to 2020)