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Cat in the Stax: Winter Break Reading Recap

By Ethan Shea

"Man reading in the snow"

Welcome back Wildcats! I hope everyone had a restful break. 

In addition to my annual tradition of buying more books than I need with Christmas cash, I was able to read some exciting books during my time off.

To begin the semester, I thought I would give a couple reading recommendations and share these recent reads.

Circe – Madeline Miller 

The first book I read during break was Circe by Madeline Miller. The majority of this book was read during a Caribbean cruise I went on with my family, making the islands described in the story seem even more surreal. I really felt like I was on Aeaea with Circe.

Circe tells the story of, well … Circe, the daughter of Helios, God of the sun. Importantly, this story is told from Circe’s perspective, a response to the generally male-centric focus of classic Greco-Roman literature. Miller’s tale manages to make the grandiose life of Gods relatable through her intimate depictions of girlhood and motherhood. Overcoming childhood trauma and being outcast because of differences are problems not just mortals but even children of Gods must overcome. 

During last winter break, as you can see on this blog, I read Madeline Miller’s first novel, The Song of Achilles. It made sense to read Miller’s second novel during my second winter here at Villanova. 

"If We Were Villains"If We Were Villains – M.L. Rio 

Another book I read has a much different toneM.L. Rio’s novel If We Were Villains is a classic dark academia tale, an aesthetic you can learn more about on this blog. I usually would not have been drawn to a book with such an aesthetic, but I’m glad I listened to my roommate’s recommendation.

In Rio’s story, an elite group of students working to become Shakespearean actors are forced to reconcile with the mysterious death of a classmate. With no shortage of Shakespeare quotes, Rio slowly unveils the truth of the matter while weaving a messy story of romantic love and friendship.

If you haven’t already, I hope you find the time to check out one or both of these great novels before the semester gets too busy. 

Stay tuned for more Cat in the Stax content every Wednesday throughout the semester! 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Last Modified: January 18, 2023