Asby Choice for Family Book Club: Greek Myths

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I always thought book clubs were groups of people reading the same book, with half of them desperate to talk about it and the other half, who just read the first three chapters the night before, just wanting to drink wine and discuss The Bachelor. And despite my recurring joke that my English major was like attending one lovely book club meeting after another, real book clubs never seemed very compelling to me. And anyway, like my son who refused to compete in a school-wide literary quiz-show competition, I like to choose my own books, thank you very much. 

It wasn’t until I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (and watched the film, with its lively little timer), that my idea of “book club” began to expand a bit. What if book club could be just an excuse to eat food and talk about what we’re reading? I started to think about family book club as a ritual and what that might look like. If we needed a little more structure, could we have a theme? But how are you supposed to choose a theme for the four of us, one firmly in the sci-fi camp, another preferring novels where nothing has to happen as long as people feel a lot of things, one child wanting action-packed plots above all else, and the last requiring very colorful illustrations? I let it simmer for a bit and came up with this collection of books, all grounded in Greek myth (theme!!) but all very much chosen by each reader (freedom!!).

(In this very imaginary family book club that I organized in my head, we were also eating these cookies or maybe these donuts, which have nothing to do with Greece, but are absolutely delicious.)

 

My son would choose Percy Jackson and the Olympians for sure, also available in graphic novel or illustrated form. I haven’t met a third-grade boy who didn’t find this series totally (if you’ll excuse me) epic.

 

Now my daughter would have some options:

 

Cy Makes a Friend, because this book club includes even the tiniest of readers. (You know, the ones who aren’t ready for Medusa’s decapitation.)

 

Cupid and Psyche is sure to delight kids who love Beauty and the Beast, and is beautifully illustrated by K. Y. Craft.

 

Pegasus is another treasure illustrated by Craft, but this one is scarier, so maybe save it for older readers. My son and I both have loved it for years.

 

A classic for good reason, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths is a great introduction for any young grecophile-to-be.

 

Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop-Up by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda, covers more than just Greek myth, but the pop ups are mesmerizing and both of my kids have spent many hours reading about these 3D gods and goddesses

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Persephone the Phony (Goddess Girls Book 2) by [Holub, Joan, Williams, Suzanne]

Goddess Girls, an early chapter book series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, is definitely a hit with kids, but with too much focus on trivial teenage drama for my taste. It is, however, a surefire way to get kids excited about mythology. It also removes the teeth from some of the darker myths, which, depending on your perspective is either a pro or a con. And in this imaginary book club, I don’t get to choose the books anyway, right?

 

I like Heroes in Training (also by Holub and Williams) much better. It has all the pros of Goddess Girls (kid-approved, easy to read, fast-moving plot), but without so much relational angst. It is slightly scarier, but not significantly so.

 

George O’Connor’s Olympians series does not sugarcoat everything, so you may want to preview these based on what you think your kiddo can handle, but they are certainly thrilling, and sure to draw even a reluctant reader to the book basket.

 

Ilium (Ilium series Book 1) by [Simmons, Dan]

When I asked my husband what his choice would be, he immediately responded in his characteristic minimalist text style: “Ilium by Dan Simmons.” Set on Earth and Mars, it features both the great Greek gods and also sentient machines.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller felt so absolutely personal to me at every step. I read Miller’s Song of Achilles and liked it from a safe distance, but when I read Circe, I felt transported in a way that I typically don’t with myth. It was also the springboard for this entire theme, as I had just finished it when I started thinking about family book club, and by sheer coincidence (or, ahem, the Fates), my son was reading one of Riordian’s graphic novels.

 

Happy reading, whatever theme you may choose for your own imaginary book club!

(And please do share your ideas in the comments!)

9 thoughts on “Asby Choice for Family Book Club: Greek Myths

  1. Oh this a great post! I love a good theme and I didn’t have any options for Em since Noah and I are on a roll with Circe & Percy Jackson! I’ll be adding some holds today!

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    1. “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king!!!” Oh my goodness. Mind blown. Instead of stop-fighting-or-I-will-take-away-your-screens-until-the-end-of-time, “Let me tell you a story.” This, among many other reasons, is why you must move back to Portland. Pretty please!

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  2. You’re blog is perfection my friend!
    I’m impatiently waiting for Circe to come off my digital holds list! Racqella and I did the kind of book club last year where you read the same book and are doing it again this summer. It’s fun for her to be old enough to discuss books more like an adult and enjoying reading adult literature with me. Although her favorite genre is horror (with depressing historical fiction as a close second)- what!?

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    1. How is she this old?? I see the videos of her on fb and can hardly believe it. You are a valiant person to endure horror for your kid. I don’t know if I’ll be tough enough when the time comes. Maybe Marcus will be up to the challenge. That’s a post I need – horror novels for people who hate horror novels. But it would probably only be like when a friend of mine described The Notebook as “having war in it,” when talking a guy friend into watching it with her. I still remember how frightened I was in my little college desk chair reading Misery before class. That honestly may be the last horror I read. Let me know if you discover something that will change my mind. Also, it’s so good to connect with you on the blog!! Thank you for reading.

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