Pisoverse Novellas: Author’s Top Picks

Not every book is a home run, and that’s fine. As educators, we can’t please everyone, nor should we aim to. Those who do tend to spend very little time in education, anyway. They burn out, and so do students. This concept applies to novellas for sure, and how I’ve come to let go of trying to write (and find) the most-compelling texts in existence. Instead, and more importantly, most novellas available provide lots of reading options for the beginning Latin student, below- or at their reading level, on a range of topics. This is the point, and this is sustainable. Of the 113 novellas on my list, probably half realistically can be read by most students in years 1 & 2, half of the rest in year 3, and the remaining ones in year 4+. They’re not all home runs, and that’s fine. With a strong independent reading program in my school for the past years, I’ve observed that there will be at least one book that each student really gets into, and the rest is input they have mild to strong opinions about. That’s a victory.

But what books tend to appeal to all?

Sure, Pīsō Ille Poētulus and Rūfus et arma ātra remain popular, but those were the first books written years ago. I just think others are more interesting, and that’s fine. The original books still have roles to play, but there have been 28 more written since, and half of them published within the past two academic years! There are a lot more books now, overall, too. We went from 0 to 70 in five years, 70 to 100 the following year alone, and we’re already 13 deep since August. With so many available now, more and more teachers are asking for recommendations. So, here’s a list of Top 10 picks, straight from the author, along with some reasons why you might want to read them with students. You might notice they’re mostly more recent ones. listed in reading-level order. Get all 10 in discounted sets of 1, 3, or 5 each.

Mārcus magulus

Why Should You Read This?
It’s Roman, but not Rome-Roman. Expanding our understanding of the ancient world beyond Rome is gaining popularity, and Egypt played a major role in antiquity. Why not get into that with the lowest level Pisoverse novella? To that point, this is a major confidence booster, has an audiobook, and an engaging storyline. Almost 60% of the 19 words are cognates.

Olianna et obiectum magicum

Why Should You Read This?
It’s not Roman, which is a nice break from things-ancient. It’s a full-out character piece, and has a lot for students to connect with regarding family dynamics and belongingness (i.e., great for incoming 9th grade, or other new-to-a-school students). It’s also the second-lowest novella. Half the words are cognates.

Quīntus et nox horrifica

Why Should You Read This?
It’s a spooky tale that gets students yelling out “don’t do it!” Quintus makes all the classic wrong decisions you find in horror films, which students find quite familiar. The setting is a Roman villa, and the audiobook is clutch. Half the words are cognates.

Mārcus et scytala Caesaris

Why Should You Read This?
This continues a look into Roman Egypt, and serves as an intro to hieroglyphs. The plot is definitely among the most-engaging. 40% of the 50 words are cognates.

Agrippīna aurīga

Why Should You Read This?
Also a very engaging story with an audiobook, over 40% of the 57 words are cognates. This book is set in provincial Hispania, features chariot racing, and gives us Agrippina’s origin story.

diāria sīderum

Why Should You Read This?
This isn’t just a non-Roman book, it’s totally new. The mythology is original, and shrouded in mystery. It’s a who-dunnit? that very clearly leads to the reveal (unlike some characteristic Pisoverse cliffhangers). It’s also got an audiobook, and half cognates.

trēs amīcī et mōnstrum saevum

Why Should You Read This?
This is a more action-packed story, with divine intervention, ancient monsters, and some Quintus character development. Over 30% of the words are cognates.

sitne amor?

Why Should You Read This?
Because representation matters in this LGBTQ-friendly tale featuring a non-binary character. It’s technically set in Rome, but has no mention of the city. This is about teenage romance, a bit comical at times, in a book with over 40% cognates.

ecce, poēmata discipulīs!

Why Should You Read This?
You will not find a larger collection of more-comprehensible dactylic hexameter, period. There are 33 poems with over 270 lines of poetry. The relatively high word count (199, just under 40% cognates) is supported by facing English translations. There’s an audio poetry album, and companion practice book, also with its own audio.

Tiberius et Gallisēna ultima

Why Should You Read This?
The action starts immediately, and it’s my most-Classical and Latīnitās-filled, thus highest level, novella. Over 75% of the 155 words appear in Caesar’s Dē Bellō Gallicō. It’s a tale extracted from Caesar’s details along with an imagining of an obscure historical figure’s magical abilities.

Bonus:

mythos malus: convīvium Terregis

Why Should You Read This?
I can’t say for sure it will be my last book, but it’s the final Pisoverse novella I have planned. This is another very Classical one with references to Catullus, is “super duperous” funny (you’ll get this once you read it), and has 40% cognates. Think Homer Simpson throwing a dinner party in a Trimalchio-like, foolish way.

As mentioned at the top, you can order discounted sets of 1, 3, or 5 of each Top 10 pick, here at the Square site.

2 thoughts on “Pisoverse Novellas: Author’s Top Picks

  1. Hi Lance,

    Do you have any interest in attending IFLT this summer and perhaps putting in a proposal for a presentation?

    Teri

    Teri Wiechart OFLA President 2013-2014 Teaching Towards Language Acquisition–Trainer and Coach ________________________________

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