Life of Pi

The First 35 of 2012

Midyear Reading Report

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge

July 2 is the exact middle of the year. That is, for any nonleap year. But since 2012 has an extra day, there’s a little adjustment needed that includes an advance by a number of hours, but hey, it still falls on the same day.

But that is not the point. I just merely want to check on my reading progress for this year. When 2012 started, I set my reading goal to 52 books just because there are 52 weeks in a year. I am a slow reader, so I think one book a week is manageable.

Goodreads has this tool that tracks how many books so far have you read, and how many books ahead or behind you are. I think this tool is pretty convenient especially if you are one of those people who are dedicated to finishing the reading goals that they set for the year. I know some bookish friends are annoyed at this gadget because they are always told that they are behind. It kind of adds some pressure to read more and sacrifice the quality of reading in the process.

But if you are ahead, and way ahead, it will give you a smug pleasure and will make you read more. In my case, I am ten books ahead. Woohoo! Make that eleven, or even twelve, since I am about to finish two more books in a couple of days. But if you take a second look, that only makes 35 books read since January. I guess that’s not too shabby. At least I have set a goal that I know I can realize.

So if I am 10 books ahead, that means I can still finish my goal even if I stop reading for two months and then resume with the same pace, right? But of course, I won’t have that reading hiatus. I’m too dependent on reading now to stave out the boredom.

Let’s now do a quick check of the titles I’ve read so far.

The First 35 of 2012

The First 35 of 2012

And let’s now see which of these books are in competition for My Best Books of 2012 (in the order that I finished them).

  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson – Graceful, quiet narrative. We read Robinson not because of the plot but because of the wonderful way she writes. One has to read slowly when reading a Robinson novel. Reading this in a hurry is plain daft. Don’t even think about it.
  • Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz – This is like Holden Caulfield in the concentration camps minus the angst and whining, for there is no room for that when life is at its toughest. The matter-of-fact storytelling is so unnerving. I can’t forget how my tears rolled down the side of my face when our narrator smelled food.
  • Number9Dream by David Mitchell – A wild rollercoaster ride, which is usually the case with David Mitchell. It made me hunt for that John Lennon song, and it stuck inside my head weeks after finishing the novel, along with this question: was it all a dream?
  • The Piano Teacher by Elfried Jelinek – Does one seriously call this a smut? I beg to disagree! I know that this is not loved by a lot of people, but I like this because of the sheer intensity that I felt while I was reading that climactic point. I was like a crazy guy with a book in front of his face and feeling his heart hammering  through his chest.
  • Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion – I was totally blown away by this. Good thing that I was emotionally stable when I decided to read this because it made me feel so dead for three days that I didn’t want to work or even talk to anyone. It’s that strong. Next time, I need to check out the effects of the books that I’m reading.
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel – An enjoyable read. I really like this one despite the doubts about its originality. I really don’t care about that because nothing is purely original nowadays. And how could I forget the last time that we saw Richard, that tiger who just jumped off the boat and ran towards the jungle?
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – This is a well-loved book, but I like it because I didn’t find any dull moment. It didn’t feel like reading a classic, so one has to give credit for that. Although there are some qualms about the actions of Jane Eyre, I still feel that this is a wonderful book.
  • Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem – This is a revelation. It’s my first Lethem novel and I have to admit that I underestimated him. I didn’t realize until I was done with the first chapter that he is a good one. It made me want to try other Lethem novels.

Note that these books are the ones that I have rated with five-stars. I hope to read more five-star books to make the yearend competition more exciting!

I like the fifth plan

In the countercurrents of the Pacific – Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I am currently reading this with two friends, LS and Maria. We are now halfway through it, at least I am, and I’ll just post my daily inputs for the first three days to make things easier for me.


Day 1:

Welcome to Zookeeping 101! The first 50 pages felt like nonfiction. It was fun though. The animal talk is just expected, but what I am surprised about is all this talk about Christian and Muslim and Hindu gods. So how will the author make the reader believe in God if he presents multiple gods? I am a monotheist, and that involves a longer discussion. Maybe this can be discussed later.

During the first few pages, I had a little problem with Pi’s name. Is it pea or is it pie? I’m glad that this is cleared soon enough. Anyway, Pi is quite a likable character. He’s smart and he strikes me as someone who’d rather be alone.

Another problem that I encountered is whether or not this novel is based on real life. It could be metafiction, and I can’t be bothered to check. I’ll try verifying if I remember to do so.

There are two perspectives interwoven in this novel, which are the past and the present. The latter, I didn’t mind much yet. These are the chapters in italics. I wonder how these are depicted on audio?

I like the part where the father of Pi taught him and his brother Ravi an important lesson. It is a harsh one, and do you think Pi, eight years old at that time, is too young to be taught of and to learn it?


Day 2:

I just want to love god. That’s what Pi says when questioned why he is practicing three religions at the same time. This is certainly a bizarre behavior, for how can one practice even two religions without renouncing the contradicting beliefs of each other? But given Pi’s answer, we really can’t hold it against him.

This novel is becoming more theological than adventurous. I am waiting for that part where Pi is marooned on a boat with the tiger, but I don’t mind the events that take place before that. Which, if you ask me, are not so much eventful as philosophical.

I also like that part where the priest, imam, and pandit met Pi and his parents. Although it looked a little too contrived, it was hilarious.

I am now at that part where the boat sank. It’s weird because he saved Richard Parker, the tiger. It’s only a bit too late when he realized that he was pulling a tiger toward the boat.

The relationship that Pi and Richard Parker will develop in the next parts can be expected to be at least non-carnivorous because the theory of zoomorphism was foreshadowed in one of the chapters. One detail, about dolphins pushing drowning sailors up to the surface of the sea, touched me.


Day 3:

I’m having a difficult time imagining how Pi, the tiger, the hyena, the orangutan, and the zebra all fit in the boat because I can hardly summon an image of a boat. The descriptions are even tedious, with boat parts and dimensions that I couldn’t be bothered to research. I can’t imagine how the tarpaulin and the oar separated Pi from the animals. I can’t also imagine the improvised raft that he created.

Nevertheless, it isn’t as dragging as it sounds. Survival stories are almost always gripping. There’s a visceral quality in them that makes you root for the protagonist and whisper a mantra of hope. Fight, fight, fight!

Currently, the only living things in the boat are Pi and the tiger. But before that, I cannot believe how a tiger can be so utterly silent for a couple of days, even allowing the hyena to feast on the zebra and the orangutan. Very typical of cats: they don’t give a shit whatever happens to their surroundings.

I find the six plans of Pi to survive humorous. But not one of them is sound enough for execution. But in the course of their solitary adventure in the Pacific, a seventh plan is summoned: keep the tiger alive.


Date Started: March 25, 2012. 9:00 PM. Book #17 of 2012.

Books to Read for March 2012

Books To Read: March 2012

March! The last month of the first quarter. And a new set of reading plan. Okay, now I really, really have to follow this reading plan. I know, I shouldn’t be too austere with reading; it takes away the joy of reading, yes? But I beg to disagree. I actually enjoy the imposition of rigorous reading discipline.

Currently, I am still running through the last hundred pages of Number9Dream and barely touched The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. A huge backlog! I am not even sure if I should adjust my self-required five books per month, which is actually six because I still need to add our book group’s book of the month.

I did some computing, like how many pages should I read each day, and I think this could be managed. Here are the books:

  • Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion – this is not on the original plan, but after seeing a copy of it at Book Sale and buying it for Kwesi, a bookish friend who bought me a Hamsun book, we decided to buddy read it. Why did I even push this book to him? I think this is about the angsty 1950’s, something that I hope my future book buddy would appreciate.
  • The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek – a controversial book. I’ve seen the film adaptation, and I love it. I can’t help wondering how it goes in the book. Two of my bookish friends hate this to the bone, and I am hoping to love this book for the sake of eternal argument. I’m not merely playing the devil’s advocate, but there’s something interesting about a classy and reserved piano teacher dreaming of sadomasochistic pleasures.
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel – a pretty popular book. I got a not so bookish friend to read this. I don’t think he immensely enjoyed it, him being an annual reader, but he admits the finer points that the book has to offer. I think what initially drew him to the book is the major premise: a boy and a tiger together on a boat at the middle of the sea.
  • The Echo Maker by Richard Powers – not sure what to make of this, but the title appeals to me. Please don’t judge me. If people make choices based on book covers alone, perhaps I could be forgiven? If memory serves me right, this is something about a man who met an accident and gropes around for his memories?
  • The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch – this is a part of a reading challenge that I am participating this year. This is not a classic if we just use the publication year as the sole basis, but with Murdoch slowly hardening into a marble statue of a respected writer, this should count. Whoever said that classics only come from the 19th century and backwards must be slapped with a stinging backhand.

This is going to be a long month. Happy reading!

Life Of Pi – Yann Martel

Life Of Pi - Yann Martel

Life Of Pi - Yann Martel

Who bought it: Aldrin of GR-TFG.

What is it: It’s about Pi, son of a zookeeper, who is trapped with a tiger on a lifeboat. To eat or not to eat? Hmm.

When: July 23, 2011

Where: GoodReads – The Filipino Group 5th Meet Up, Congo Grille, El Pueblo.

Why: A Booker winner. And the trade paperback is just irresistible. This is also the prize that I took from a pile of books when our group won the literary pop quiz.

How much: Free!