Madeline Miller

The author picks three favorites that have stayed with her over the years.

Madeline Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles, won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. Steeped in the lore of The Iliad, it explores the complex relationship between the Myrmidon prince and his lifelong companion, Patroclus. When we asked Miller to pick three of her favorite reads, she responded, “Some books stay with you for a wonderful, glorious season, then fade. Others linger in your imagination for years, silently giving pleasure and illumination. The three books below belong to the latter category: they have all been with me for a long time, and I never get tired of dipping into their worlds.”

Buy The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


By Nora Ephron

“I first read this book in college and was shocked by how viscerally it affected me. The cover had looked pinkly frivolous, like something you read and forget, but the book’s voice hit me like a fire-hose: a precision blast of mordant, witty grief. It was funny, yes — so funny that even now when I think about certain lines I laugh out loud — but it was also dark and powerful and wise, rich with insight into our disasters. I have read it at least a dozen times, and look forward to a dozen more.”

Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

“This novel is, simply, a masterpiece, and frankly I find it hard to comment beyond a simple imperative: read it. The book has everything: brilliant characterization, gorgeous language, profound insight, and edge-of-your-seat adventure. But what really stayed with me was its unflinching portrait of human nature, how Mitchell shows us standing on a knife’s point of cruelty and compassion. The six main characters — in six nested narratives that span centuries — are powerful, flawed, heroic, and human. Watching them struggle against the injustice of their various worlds is both wrenching and inspiring.”

A Wizard of Earthsea

By Ursula K. Le Guin

“This is a beautiful and deceptively simple novel about a gifted boy who makes a terrible mistake. From the first sentence I was hypnotized by Le Guin’s elegant, clean prose, and the evocative lure of her place names: Selidor, Gont, Iffish, Havnor. LeGuin’s parents were anthropologists, and it shows in the care she takes with every corner of her compelling world and the characters that fill it. She has a way of finding elegy in the rituals of daily life — sweeping a floor, or rigging a ship. It’s a book that is at once profoundly thoughtful, and profoundly accessible — it can be read by anyone, at any age. But the greatest treat? Read it out loud.”