Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

20 Books of Summer 2022: Book 4

This may be an unpopular opinion, but Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is a lukewarm rehashing of The Iliad, devoid of the spark and creativity that Miller showed in Circe. As I wrote in that review, I enjoy retellings of myths. I don’t feel especially attached to any particular version, and new twists and angles on established characters are a fun way to keep old stories fresh. Madeline Miller’s Circe and The Song of Achilles share a common theme. In Circe, the titular character is a side character from Homer’s Odyssey and Miller flipped the old narrative on its head: Circe becomes a main character with her own motives and passions and story arc. The Song of Achilles follows the same initial premise, this time with a side character from The Iliad, but the narrator, Patroclus, quickly becomes the least interesting character in his own story. read more

Review: The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan

20 Books of Summer: Book 3

When I culled my bookshelves at the start of the summer, Jennifer Egan’s The Invisible Circus shifted into and out of the “keep” pile. I’d read Part One several times and loved it, but consistently lost interest somewhere in Part Three. I didn’t want to keep a book that had landed in the DNF pile several times already, but I had such fond memories of Part One. And now, at last, I have finished it. The ending did not live up to the promise of Part One.

This review will contain spoilers for the end of the book. read more

Review: A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

20 Books of Summer 2022: Book 1

I’ve been reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books at the rate of one per summer and have arrived at #10: A Caribbean Mystery. These lighthearted mysteries are perfect for summertime reading, but I often think I should leave them off my official reading list so I don’t feel pressured to review them. They’re entertaining, but not particularly memorable, and I find myself rereading my previous reviews in order to avoid repetition. (4:50 from Paddington is still my favorite.) read more

20 Books of Summer 2022

I haven’t posted on my blog in almost a year, nor have I read any books in that time. I know reading isn’t supposed to be something you quit, but other projects came up and a break was a great help to get my TBR in hand. A little distance made it possible to purge my bookshelves. There were so many books I’d held onto only because “I’ll read it eventually,” even if the topic didn’t interest me, or titles that I felt obligated to keep on my shelf because they meant I was a certain type of reader, etc. Getting rid of the chaff was such a relief—it was like I’d accumulated hundreds of homework assignments over the years, and the deadlines suddenly vanished. Really, why should I read all the Booker/Pulitzer winners anyway? Some of them sound awful. (eBooks escaped the purge because they don’t require physical space.) I haven’t updated the TBR that’s posted on this site yet, but eventually it’ll reflect books I’m more excited to read instead of self-imposed homework. read more