What’s On My Bookshelf: Part 1

I’ve been indulging myself lately with two new books. Because I’m just beginning to work on my third novel, I’ve been trying to focus more on writing than reading, but wouldn’t you know that life has other distractions in mind? But because these books are so unforgettable, I must share them with you. I’ll share one today and the other one in a follow-up post.

If you like Greek mythology and you can’t get enough of The Iliad, you must read Song of Achilles by first-time novelist Madeline Miller. No doubt, she makes creative use of her education (degrees in Latin and Greek from Brown University) but her imagination is the true vehicle for this book. You’ll be swept away.

I simply loved Miller’s portrayal of all the major characters — not just Achilles but others such as egotistical Agamemnon and Thetis, the smothering mother-goddess figure. This is a love story but it’s not between Paris and the abducted Helen; it’s between Achilles and his boyhood friend Patroclus, who lends his point of view to the novel. Completing the triangle is the endearing character of Briseis, Achilles’ war trophy. The climax of the book occurs when Agamemnon demands her for himself.

You know how the story ends so I won’t recap The Iliad, but the vivid characters and emotions make this book as enjoyable as any modern novel. And the subject of hubris will never go out of vogue; perhaps the time is right to take a new look at the consequences of excessive pride.

This book was recommended by my neurologist, a brilliant man who finds the art of reading literature oddly complementary to his day job. Perhaps he enjoys letting the right side of his brain take the wheel for a while? And on that subject, stay tuned for Part 2 of “What’s On My Bookshelf.”

So…what’s on your bookshelf?