Posted in Book Reviews


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Recently, my friends and I started up our book club. We used to meet pretty regularly a few years ago, but people moved, got different jobs that required more time, kids got older with more activities, and we eventually just fizzled out. As more and more of my friends started getting vaccinated and the weather here in the Midwest was at least pretending to be more spring-like, I decided to reach out and see if there was interest in starting again.

We met in March where we read Wings of Ebony by J. Elle. Apparently YA fantasy wasn’t this groups favorite category. We all liked aspects of the book, but it wasn’t a group favorite. (Personally, I really enjoyed the book, but I also pretty exclusively only read middle school and YA books, and fantasy tends to be my favorite category. If you like YA and you like fantasy, you will probably like it too.)

At that meeting, we decided that for April, we would read Piranesi by Susanna Clark. It had appeared on a NPR list for best book club books and one of our group members had read and enjoyed it, so we decided to give it a shot.

It. was. weird.

This book is not like anything I have ever read before. It’s a fairly short book, around 250 pages, so it’s a quick read. But I have to admit, I was not feeling this book for about the first 30-40 pages. I thought my friend who had suggested it was in a completely different place from me in terms of book interests.

But, after I understood a little more of the writing style of the book, I began to really enjoy it.

Piranesi is the main character. We know all about Piranesi and where he lives through his journals which is how the book is written: journal entries. Unlike most journal entries (Monday, January 1, 2021), Piranesi marks time in…unique ways. The journals are full of information about the house in which Piranesi lives, room upon room, endless halls, stairs, and statues. He goes into great detail about all aspects of the house which is so vast that he does not believe he has been to all the places within it. We learn early on there are three levels to the house. The top layer is where the clouds are, and the bottom is full of the waters. (I told you…weird.)

There is only one other person that Piranesi ever sees in the house, and it is why Piranesi believes he is only the 15th person who has ever lived. EVER. As in, there have only ever been 14 other people who have existed. He comes to this conclusion innocently enough, but I won’t spoil that here.

Piranesi’s journals are like that of an innocent child. He is continuously surprised by the beauty and “generosity” of the house. He treats all things with respect and has a great appreciation for the birds that frequent the house. Through his careful observations, he has learned many of the house’s mysteries…that were not so mysterious if one simply paid attention.

The Other, as Piranesi refers to the other person in the house, is quite a contrast to Piranesi. He does not seem to value the house, but instead is searching for the answers to his own question, and uses Piranesi to help him solve it.

There is a lot to unpack in this book, and I do intend to read it again. I could see using this book to discuss theme as there are quite a few you could pull from it.

It was definitely one of my favorite books of the year.


17 years of teaching experience 100s of books read

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