e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

30 Day Book Challenge – day 14: A book that should be on school and college reading lists

For this day I’ve chosen The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. There are several reasons:

  • the prose of much of the book is worth reading just for itself
  • by being so imaginative it stretches the imagination – IMHO this is particularly important for young people
  • the writing about animals encourages a reassessment of our relationship with them
  • it raises and explores issues about things like survival, reality, the importance of religion
  • the ambiguity of the end allows the reader space to come to their own conclusions about what it all means

life of pi cover artOne of the main things I took away from my reading was the importance of what we name our fellow creatures. The tiger, Richard Parker, has a human name and I found I had a completely different view of him than if he’d been called an animal-style name like Stripey or Felix. Of course, this has been known for a long time, but it hadn’t been a point I’d ever given much thought to.

If you haven’t read this book, I recommend it. If you haven’t seen the film I recommend that too – it’s beautiful, colourful and gripping.

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4 thoughts on “30 Day Book Challenge – day 14: A book that should be on school and college reading lists

  1. I really enjoyed The Life of Pi but as it has been made into a film wonder if this makes it more or less likely to be used in schools? If pupils could be persuaded to read the book before seeing the film it would be a good choice but many youngsters would consider seeing the film enough and that could ruin their appreciation of the book. Mind you, pupils have been known to answer exam questions on books when all they know are the films!

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    • You have a point here. Thank you for raising it. To many young people films seem to be more important than books, and more memorable. But of course they miss out on the quality of prose and description as well as the subtle looks at religion and other things that the Life of Pi did so well. Perhaps examiners could make both required reading/viewing and set exam questions that compare them.

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  2. Your post set me thinking and I’ve now written about your choice on my blog. Thanks for the inspirartion

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