This is the seventh installment of my aptly-named series “Books on the Shelf,” in which I take any title or object from one of my lovingly alphabetized shelves and write a short post about it.
Anybody who’s talked books with me in the last year knows that my favorite book of all time is Madeline Miller’s Circe. I’ve read it twice now. Each time, the ending has left my chest buzzing.
I’ve gone back to certain passages over and over again as I’ve worked through one of own novel drafts. There’s one sentence that I have even copied into my notes, and I have referred to it many times:
My chest felt heavy, and my throat had begun to ache.
Not the one you were expecting, was it? But look at it: both precise and concise, it shows the physical sensation of tremendous emotion as Circe’s father Helios is dropping her unceremoniously onto the island, preparing to abandon her. It’s short, and the rhythm is nearly iambic. It’s simple.
Circe is a book with a beautiful story and beautiful language to back it up. I hope you’ll read it if you haven’t already.