Since the 1980s, people have been celebrating the concept of π–the mathematical ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, which is always a constant 3.14 –on March 14th. Sorry to subject you to math lessons early in the morning.
I’m not entirely sure what people gifted in mathematical ability do to celebrate Pi Day because I was an English/history major for a reason. But someone in my classes always brought a pie to class on Pi Day, so I was always a fan of this holiday. I’m not going to argue with any train of thought that results in free pie.
Since I can’t deliver a pie to you through the internet, I thought I might instead offer a list of suggestions for this year’s challenge to “Read a book with a number in the title.”
A quick answer to this question would be to just read one of the many books in either James Patterson’s Woman’s Murder Club series or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, both of which always feature numbers in the title.
However, there are a lot of other books in our system that also work for this category, so let’s explore a few of them. As always, if you’re interested in learning more about them, follow this link to our online catalog.
If you prefer contemporary fiction:
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2008)
Canadian author Yann Martel burst onto the literary scene in 2001 with his quirky story of a boy named Pi and how, after the sinking of the ship he is traveling on from his native India to Canada, he spends months trapped on the ocean in a lifeboat with the only other survivor, a Bengal tiger. Their resulting interactions lead to a very intense game of cat and mouse. Even though it has only been out for fifteen years, Life of Pi has become something of a modern classic, and its unique combination of adventure, allegory, and humor is well worth a read.
JoJo Moyes’ One Plus One (2014)
Jess has been having a miserable time of it lately, what with her husband abandoning her and her two children. What’s even worse, her talented daughter is eligible to participate in a math competition, and if she performs well, she will win a sizeable amount of money and admission to an excellent school. Unfortunately, Jess doesn’t have the money to make the trip. Enter Ed, Jess’s strange boss. He offers to drive the family, and comical and romantic complications ensue. If you enjoy books that make you laugh and also like a good “opposites attract” love story, give this one a try.
If you enjoy historical fiction:
David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife (2008)
Ebershoff’s novel, like many recent works of historical fiction, combines two parallel stories–one set in the present and one set in the past. The earlier story concerns a fictionalized telling of the life of the real life Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young’s many wives before the Mormon Church ceased practicing polygamy. Ann gained international fame and notoriety when she divorced Young and then made a career out of condemning polygamy and her former husband. Her tale is juxtaposed with that of Jordan Scott, a 21st century teenager who was expelled from his rogue Mormon sect that still practices polygamy. He is forced to re-enter this world, though, when his father turns up dead and his mother, one of many wives, is accused of murdering him. This story received a lot of critical acclaim when it was first released for its blending of historical fiction with “literary suspense.”
If you like mysteries:
Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (2002)
If you enjoy cozy mysteries, you might consider reading the first in Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe series, which features a female private investigator in modern Botswana. Smith’s series features humorous cozy mysteries that are character-driven and enriched by his vivid descriptions of their African setting. Even better, if you end up liking this one, you’ll have fifteen more books in the series to enjoy.
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (1939)
You can also read or reread one of Agatha Christie’s most famous standalone mysteries, And Then There Were None. Ten strangers are invited to an island for mysterious reasons, and then, one by one, they all start to die, in accordance with a nursery rhyme. But who orchestrated this twisted game–and why were these ten people chosen?
If you wish to be scared:
Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale (2006)
The catalyst behind this neo-gothic suspense story is a mysterious letter that biographer Margaret receives, summoning her to interview a famous reclusive writer named Vida Winter. In years past, Winter has published bizarre, conflicting stories of her early life, but now on her deathbed, she feels compelled to finally reveal the truth. However, Margaret, who is battling secrets from her own past as well, is not entirely convinced the author is telling the truth even now. Setterfield consciously models this story on classic gothic works, like Jane Eyre, so if you enjoy the Brontës and/or stories involving creepy English country estates, give this one a try.
Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 (2013)
Most people know who Stephen King is, even if they’ve never read any of his books. He’s one of the most famous, best-selling horror writers of all time. But did you know his son also writes well-regarded horror of his own, under the pen name Joe Hill? If you like your horror much more intense than that suggested by The Thirteenth Tale, consider reading N0S4A2. In this book, the sinister Charles Manx kidnaps children and takes them to his frightening amusement park, the disarmingly-named Christmasland. Only one–Victoria McQueen–has ever escaped. Victoria has a unique power of her own, the ability to find lost things, but she’s tried to forget her time at Christmasland. Manx, however, has never forgotten the one who got away. Victoria will more than need her talents and memories when Manx strikes again and takes her teen-aged son as his latest victim.
If you love YA:
Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2008)
Jay Asher made his writing debut with this novel and made a rather good first impression with a lot of readers and critics with his compelling, thought-provoking book. The books is built on an admittedly morbid premise–a high school student has committed suicide and sent recordings of her reasons for doing so to thirteen different classmates. One of these classmates is also the book’s narrator, Clay. As he spends the night listening to her reasons, which indict a lot of students at their school, he begins to dread learning his own role in the event. Even readers who don’t like the book readily admit that it is a compelling read you won’t be able to put down.
If you want a classic:
Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
You may be more familiar with the now-classic, Oscar-winning 1975 film adaptation of this novel, starring Jack Nicholson, but the original novel is also excellent. (In fact, this duo is one of the few novels/film adaptations where I enjoy both equally.) I actually first read this book when I was trapped on a very long transatlantic flight for a school trip. I can’t sleep on planes, which is an unfortunate fact when you’re stuck on a 16-hour flight at night. So, while everyone else enjoyed a very long nap, I read this book about the charming but roguish Randall P. McMurphy, who tries to get out of jail by pretending to be insane. He’s sent to a psychiatric institute, promptly brings his own brand of mirthful anarchy to his fellow patients, and then quickly finds himself waging a war of attrition against the ward’s stern Nurse Ratched. This book succeeds in being both hilarious and heartbreaking.
George Orwell’s 1984 (1949)
George Orwell’s nightmarish 1984 is a dystopian classic for a reason. It follows Winston Smith and his gradual disenchantment with the totalitarian government of his native Oceania. Smith works for the Ministry of Truth, revising facts and documents to fit whatever stance the government maintains on any given issue. But he hates his job and a relationship with a woman named Julia draws him into the Brotherhood, an organization pledged to overthrowing the government. But will they succeed?
Have you read any of these books? What books with numbers in the title would you recommend? Tell us in the comments!