Collage of book covers: The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré , The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Circe by Madeline Miller, The Pigman by Paul Zindel

6 Degrees of Separation

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month we begin with The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, winner of the 2022 Women’s Prize. Even before Kate last month announced it as this month’s starting point, I had it on my list of books I wanted to read. So I had good intentions of having finished it before starting on this month’s 6 Degrees post. 

Like many good intentions, this one did not bear fruit. I didn’t finish this Big Book, but I have read enough to know that the novel begins with a story about a boy (age 14) grieving the death of his father. So that’s where I’ll start.

(Quoted book descriptions are from Goodreads.)

first degree

Another novel about a boy dealing with grief over the loss of his father is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

second degree

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré picks up the concept of loud. This novel is the “story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her ‘louding voice’ and speak up for herself.”

third degree

Willa Cather also wrote a novel about a girl trying to find her voice. The Song of the Lark presents “an aspiring singer, [who] struggles to escape from the confines of her small Colorado town to the world of possibility in the Metropolitan Opera House.”

fourth degree

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s first novel, continues the thread of singing. This is a modern reimagining of the story of the Trojan war from Homer’s epic The Iliad.

fifth degree

I’m especially proud of my next entry, Circe by Madeline Miller, because it has three connections with the previous book:

  1. It’s by the same author.
  2. It features a character from the other famous Homeric epic, The Odyssey
  3. In The Odyssey, as Odysseus sails home to Greece after the Trojan war, Circe lures his ship to her island with her lovely singing voice. This novel continues the concepts of singing and voice.

sixth degree

After Circe lures Odysseus’s ship to her island, she turns many of the crew into swine. Therefore, my final entry in this exercise is the young adult novel The Pig Man by Paul Zindel, originally published in 1968. A seminal work in the movement to portray teenagers and their lives realistically (well before the designation young adult literature came into use), the novel presents the story of the relationship of two teenagers with an older man, Angelo Pignati, who lives in their neighborhood. According to Wikipedia, “This book would go on to win numerous awards, including the New York Times Outstanding Book of 1968, the ALA Notable Children’s Book 1940–1970[,] the Horn Book 1969 Fanfare Honor List.”

This month’s journey has taken us around the world and back and forth in time. Where did 6 Degrees of Separation take you this month?

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

9 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation”

  1. Goodness! Three of your links – the two Millers and the Dare have been in previous chains of mine, so you and I seem to make similar reading choices. Which means I’ll put the other three on my TBR. Thanks.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thank you, Margaret. I always enjoy discovering other readers/bloggers who like some of the same books I like.

  2. What a great idea to focus on voices/singing, both abstract and concrete. I’ve only read Circe which I enjoyed and keep meaning to pick up The Song of Achilles.

  3. I loved The Girl With the Louding Voice, and I love your link to the Willa Cather book. I’ll be hunting that one down, as I’m still quite early on in getting to know Willa. Thanks, Mary!

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