Must Read Modern Classics


Jenna Wiley, Editor-in-Chief

No, this list isn’t filled with books like Fahrenheit 451 or Slaughterhouse-Five I promise. I’ve chose the term “modern classics” because I truly think that best describes them. These books are retellings of classical literature like The Odyssey  and The Illiad and are transformed into beautiful historical fiction pieces. This genre isn’t one most people will seek out but you should! These books are beautiful and they definitely should be added to your list.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This book is my most recent one I’ve read and it it by far my new favorite. This story is a retelling of  The Illiad focusing on Achilles and told from his companions Patroclus’ point of view. It’s romantic, historic, and beautifully written. You don’t have to have read Homer’s works or any other ancient stories to understand this book, which many will appreciate.


The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood

Most people recognize the name Margaret Atwood due to her best-selling and world famous series The Handmaid’s Tale. This books follows Penelope, Odysseus’ misunderstood wife on Ithaca, during the time of The Odyssey. Written in a style similar to that of a Greek tragedy, The Penelopiad gives a voice not only to Penelope, but also the 12 maids hanged by Telemachus (on Odysseus’ orders). The novel is told in Atwood’s famous feminist voice and is a must-read.


The Silence of Girls by Pat Barker

A powerful retelling of The Iliad, Pat Barker’s 2018 The Silence of the Girls is an excellent choice if you want to read a similar to The Song of Achilles. Though the title of this recent novel informs you of the glaring lack of a female voice in Homer’s Iliad, this critically-acclaimed novel is told from the perspective of Briseis. Though she is a title character in The Illiad, especially as a symbol of the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon, The Silence of the Girls is told through her perspective after Troy falls to the Greeks and she is given as a human prize to Achilles.


Circe by Madeline Miller 

Another fantastic book by Madeline Miller and this one happens to be the next on my list. Circe follows the myth of Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios. Once the news that Circe has magical gifts and is banished to a far off island by Zeus. We see Circe torn between two worlds, the one of the gods she was born into and those of mortals, whom she has come to love. Madeline Miller has a beautiful way to write prose and I can’t wait ti start this one.


The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Stepping away from Greek epics and classics, The Mists of Avalon gives readers a inside peek into legendary King Arthur’s court Camelot.This fantasy epic is an excellent choice for those looking for books like The Song of Achilles and Circe because it has a beautiful knack to both enthrall readers and to make previously unsympathetic characters multidimensional.