If you, or someone you love, is a bit of a nerd, you probably know that yesterday was an especially geeky holiday. Coinciding with Albert Einstein's birthday, Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14). The holiday is even an official national holiday recognized by Congress. According to PiDay.org (yes, that exists) pi, the Greek letter “π”, is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.
So how did you celebrate Pi Day? Not surprisingly, making and eating pies was a very popular choice. For one thing, pies are delicious, for another, pies are typically circular, making pi the ratio of the circumference of a pie to its diameter. Also, there's the little mind blower of PIE being 314 mirrored. Some have competitions of who can memorize the most digits of pi with their friends.
3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196 4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091 4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273 7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436 7892590360 (and so forth...)
There are other ways to celebrate Pi Day, but how can you celebrate if you are a geek and an exotic animal lover as well? The simple answer is to pick up an amazing book; Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi.
Life of Pi was recently made into a film (expect a DVD review here soon) that won 4 academy awards, but the novel Yann Martel's Life of Pi was published about 10 years earlier. It has sold over seven million copies. The book was a New York Times Bestseller, Los Angeles Times Bestseller, Washington Post Bestseller, San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller, and a Chicago Tribune Bestseller.
According to Publishers Weekly:
A fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement "a story that will make you believe in God," as one character says. The peripatetic Pi (ne the much-taunted Piscine) Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The scenes flow together effortlessly, and the sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging. Martel's potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader's defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi's life that almost naturally lead to his biggest ordeal.
The book is unique and holds your attention throughout. It is quick and has enough action to engage the reader. And though there is always intentional doubt as to which parts of Pi's story really happened in the story, it doesn't change the entertainment value at all.
Exotic animals in Life of Pi
In the story, Pi's family travels with their family's zoo animals. They become lost at sea, leaving the boy stranded on a boat with some unusual companions: a vicious hyena, a female orangutan named Orange Juice, an injured zebra and a 450-pound tiger named Richard Parker. While the story is, on one level, a religious allegory, the animals in the story act like the animals they are. They are not anthropomorphized. The hyena attacks and kills the zebra with the broken leg as well as Orange Juice, who Pi cared for deeply.
However, the most important animal character is, without a doubt, Richard Parker. While a very dangerous shipmate for Pi, Richard Parker helps Pi to survive in various ways. Pi uses the zookeeper training he received to keep the tiger trained and at least partially tamed which allows him to survive. The book is fascinating from an animal behavior standpoint.
Life of Pi is available in many formats
It doesn't have to be Pi Day to enjoy Life of Pi. It is a fantastic adventure with many levels of understanding. Those familiar with training or taming animals will find the story both fantastical and familiar. With the recent academy awards given to the film adaptation, this novel should be easy to find in any store that sells books or online at Amazon. Life of Pi is available as a book, an e-book, and an audiobook at Provo City Library at Academy Square. Orem Public Library, too, has all formats to check out. Salt Lake City Library has all formats including large print and Pleasant Grove Library has copies as well.