Reading Recs – August 2022

Once a month(-ish), we bring you an update from a few Hackers on things we’ve been reading, enjoying, and learning that month, whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, an interesting article, or a series of social media posts. We hope you’ll join along with us and share your most interesting reads in the comments!

Melissa Grasso

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

As someone interested in the ancient world and femininity, I could not put this book down. It centers around a prostitute named Amara (whose name in Latin could have roots “to love”, amare, or “bitter”, amarum) who works at a seedy brothel with an abusive master in Pompeii prior to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Born free, Amara struggles with her new enslaved status and forges complicated relationships with her fellow prostitutes. She has to shift identities constantly depending on her company and her intelligence and ruthless allow her to survive. Harper also resists making the story senselessly sensual (despite the subject matter) for the sake of cheap titillation. She also avoids another thing I hate in books – having the environment react to the characters rather than the other way around. 

If you liked Madeline Miller’s phenomenal Circe, you will love The Wolf Den. I’ve read a lot of recent reinterpretations of ancient or mythological women (think Ariadne, The Silence of the Girls or Daughters of Sparta). The Wolf Den, while not better than Circe, is better than everything else that is coming out right now. I’ve already picked up its sequel The House with the Golden Door (it’s a planned trilogy), and it’s just as good as its predecessor. 

Five stars, 10/10, highly recommend, go read it.

Categories: Reading

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