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July 23, 2021
It is unreasonable to expect a reader to answer the question: what's your favorite book?
Their response is likely, "in what genre? or for what age? a funny one or a serious one? by which author" and then they will just look at you with disgust.
Recently, I have decided to create my top tier of books. Before I add a book to that tier, I have to sit with it and roll it around in my head for a while.
Currently, the books in that tier are:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Milkman by Anna Burns
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Our book club read Piranesi by Susanna Clarke last month, and after sitting with it for about a month, I have decided not to add it to my top tier. However, it is a great book, and a great book for a book club to read. Our book club had a rich discussion with some debate and each member enjoyed the book.
This is a fantasy novel. Fantasy is not one of my favorite genres, at all, but I do not think that is what kept me from proclaiming it to be one of the best books I have ever read.
In the novel, Piranesi is the main character and protagonist. The setting is the House, a place of innumerable halls and rooms, with statues, floods and fish. To Piranesi, this is the world and it is a kind world.
There is one other person there. Piranesi calls him The Other. He is wise, and he sends Piranesi on various excursions and academic adventures. Piranesi is fond of him.
During much of the book, Piranesi walks around the House and details what he sees and finds. He makes assumptions about his about this world and notes them as truths.
Eventually, Piranesi begins to question of beliefs he has held and searches for the answers. Slowly those truths are revealed to the reader.
Clarke's imagery, allusions and foreshadowing are beautiful entwined into the plot, and the reading experience is engaging and unique.
However, what I found missing was a point or a deeper look at the human experience. And maybe that is part of the fantasy genre (I really have never read anything fantasy, I do suppose). So that is why it did not make it to my top tier, but I have many tiers and this book is up there and I do suggest you read it.
Our Book Club is Cool
This is true for many reasons, but why I bring it up now is to share this. In preparation for each meeting, we each (well usually only a few each time) do a project. (yes, that is correct, there are more than a few teachers in this book club).
But I think we all agree the projects are really good and help the book club discussion along quite a bit.
Sometimes projects are research projects, or poems, or dioramas or games or food or painted pictures... you get the picture. We do whatever moves us and sometimes only one of us shows up with a project.
But whether we have 1 project or 7, they always help moved the discussion and add a ton of fun to our meeting.
For Piranesi, only one member created a project, and it was amazing, so we want to give her props here. Piranesi slowly reveals a little bit of the reality to the reader, and as does Cat's book she made. The pictures here are not related to the book. She was inspired by the slow reveal. We each got to look at it independently and it was so fun to watch everyone's face when they hit the last page. The title is pretty amazing too.
You can check out Cat's artwork on IG and Tik Tok @cateynell or on her website.
June 16, 2021