Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

El Alquimista (The Alchemist) by Paulo Coelho (♦♦♦♦)

A young shepherd from Andalucía, Spain, has a twice-recurring dream. He dreams that he travels to the Pyramids of Egypt where a treasure is supposedly waiting for him. A gypsy confirms that he should go to Egypt. An encounter with a centuries-old king puts him on the path of realizing his dreams, but as you can guess, it is anything but easy.

The first time I read El Alquimista my reaction was wow! What a book! Every time I needed to know there’s magic in life I picked up the book and read it again. This time I didn’t feel the same way, but I assigned the rating for old time’s sake.

El Alquimista (The Alchemist) is a very easy read; I read it last night in a few hours. It is a profoundly beautiful reflection on the mission of each and every being on Earth. It is a philosophical story that it’s anything but preachy. Great storytelling and the roundness quality of its ending, a-la classical myths, make this book a contemporary classic.