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If You Like The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

If You Like The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.  Available for adults, teens, and kids.

The Life of Pi is the winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. "Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?" (Book Description)

If you liked The Life of Pi, here are a few titles that you may find equally thought-provoking:

Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will test the bonds that tie him to his people, and discover himself in the pagan past, in his father's wisdom, and in his mother's Catholicism. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world-and will nurture the birth of his soul.  (Catalog summary)

 

Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
Visualizing a village, a hotel or an apartment building as a microcosm of society is not a new concept to writers, but few have invested their fiction with such luminous language, insight into character and grasp of cultural construct as Suri does in his debut. The inhabitants of a small apartment building in Bombay are motivated by concerns ranging from social status to spiritual transcendence while their alcoholic houseboy, Vishnu, lies dying on the staircase landing. During a span of 24 hours, Vishnu's body becomes the fulcrum for a series of crises, some tragic, some farcical, that reflect both the folly and nobility of human conduct....By turns charming and funny, searing and poignant, dramatic and farcical, this fluid novel is an irresistible blend of realism, mysticism and religious metaphor, a parable of the universal conditions of human life. (Nicole Aragi, Publishers Weekly)

 

 

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
A bestseller since 1943, The Fountainhead tackles a number of issues including individualism, objectivism and capitalism. The story deals with the equally selfish and selfless actions of Howard Roark, a struggling architect; Peter Keating, his less-talented but more successful rival; and newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. Essentially, this work is a platform for the author's views and personal philosophy, and its influence is still felt to this day. (What Do I Read
Next?)
 

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Lemuel Gulliver, trying to escape his suffering medical practice, takes a job as a ship's surgeon. He awakens to find himself shipwrecked on the shore of previously undiscovered Lilliput, tied to the ground and surrounded by six inch tall people. In a short amount of time, he befriends the Lilliputians and becomes involved in their culture, including the war between them and neighboring Blefuscu. The discovery of Lilliput gives Gulliver the desire to travel and he sets out to find new lands. He travels to other exotic places such as Brobdingnag, where all the inhabitants tower above him; Glubbdubdrib, where it's possible to witness historical events; and the land of the Houyhnhnms, where horses are the dominant species and humans are on the lower ranks of the evolutionary scale. Each new country give Gulliver insight on the different sides of his own society and culture. (What Do I Read Next?)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The novel relates the story of a group of British school boys abandoned on a desert island after a plane crash. The only two adults traveling with them are killed, so the boys establish a sort of government and appoint a leader. But the novel soon becomes a parable about the inherent evil in human nature, reflected in the natural brutality of these boys once they are away from civilization. (What Do I Read Next?)

 

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
The sea: turbulent and leaden, transparent and opaque, magician and mother... When Charles Arrowby, over sixty, a demi-god of the theatre -- director, playwright and actor -- retires from his glittering London world in order to 'abjure magic and become a hermit', it is to the sea that he turns. He hopes at least to escape from 'the woman' -- but unexpectedly meets one whom he loved long ago. His Buddhist cousin, James, also arrives, menaced by a monster from the deep. Charles finds his 'solitude' peopled by the drama of his own fantasies and obsessions. (Amazon.com) A book big on self-understanding, and individual moral development.
 

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
This book chronicles the spiritual evolution of a man living in India at the time of the Buddha--a tale that has inspired generations of readers. We are invited along Siddhartha's journey experiencing his highs, lows, loves, and disappointments along the way. Hesse begins by showing us the life of a privileged Brahmin's son. Handsome, well-loved, and growing increasingly dissatisfied with the life expected of him, Siddhartha sets out on his journey, not realizing that he is fulfilling the prophesies proclaimed at his birth. Siddhartha blends in with the world, showing the reader the beauty and intricacies of the mind, nature, and his experiences on the path to enlightenment. (catalog summary)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son...becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is a touching and transcendent book of life. (catalog summary)


Quite a bit of science fiction and fantasy is philosophical or has spirituality as a theme. Here is an example:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Originally published in 1932, Huxley's terrifying vision of a controlled and emotionless future "Utopian" society is truly startling in its prediction of modern scientific and cultural phenomena, including test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse. (catalog summary)