After Moby Dick, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another 200-odd days at sea. But this time the journey was shared with a tiger and a few other zoo animals and only talked once about whales.
I had actually planned to add a bit of non-fiction to my reading list, and I asked a few key people at work for recommendations on inspirational books they’d read lately. I was expecting a bit of Simon Sinek or Brené Brown… when my trusted mentor answered, without hesitation, ‘You have to read the Life of Pi.’
It was an engaging book from the start, but three-quarters through I have to admit I became a bit cynical. The story got just a bit too bizarre, a bit too implausible, and although I knew it was fiction it still managed to annoy me. It wasn’t set up as fantasy, so when it started to head there I began to feel cheated (don’t get me started on the wizard from The Hobbit…).
Ahhh, but then I read the epilogue. And it all came together. Everything fell into place. It had me fist-pumping the air and shouting ‘Amazing!’. And it left me pondering, and still pondering to this day: What makes a good story? Does non-fiction need to be accurate to be valued? Does fiction need to be plausible to be engaging?
The whole story is written in a beautiful, calming voice – the language made me feel as if I was floating in the boat with them, even before they set sail. I felt the fear, the joy, the sadness of the main character and I know I will never look at tigers the same way again.
Move aside Simon and Brené; the Life of Pi is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.Follow @jessieansons