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With the advent of the courageous book-to-movie conversion of the literary prize-winner and beloved book club choice Life of Pi, I decided that this needed to quickly move up on my must-read list. I’m the kind of efficient and impatient person who cannot fathom why anyone would go back to read a book after watching the movie. The movie has already created the images and cast the characters for you, and why spend this time immersed in a plot where you already know the ending? I’m sure many of you have very solid and thoughtful answers to this, so please leave them in the comments.

Anyway, I decided to make Life of Pi my Christmas break read– a rare return to the physical world of paper and ink among my RSS feeds, iBooks, Kindle downloads and Audible selections. To my delight, I found myself unable to read more than a few pages without grabbing my post-it flags and noting the beautiful language and philosophical passages. Hence, by the end, my book looks like this.

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Since I borrowed this from a friend, I didn’t feel that I could go crazy with written annotations, but I was glad to have pieces of the book to reflect back on when finished. I was reminded again the importance of sharing with my students a love of literature–true literary works, not just popular fiction. And also to practice what I preach by really engaging with the work. Here are some of my favorite passages.

My fingers, which a second before had been taste buds savoring the food a little ahead of my mouth, became dirty under [the waiter’s] gaze. They froze likes criminals caught in the act.

If there’s only one nation on the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?

The [sea turtle’s] expression was haughty and severe, like that of an ill-tempered old man who has complaining on his mind.

On finding a Gideon Bible at a hotel:

I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from the pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of Scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl’s kiss on your cheek.

It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.

Doesn’t the telling of something always become a story?…Isn’t telling something–using words, English or Japanese–already something of an invention? Isn’t just looking upon this world already something of an invention?…The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?

It is a fantastical story painted on a canvas of philosophy. Pi reflects throughout on the duality of human nature’s basest instincts wrestling alongside a human soul reaching for the highest plains of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

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