Book Recommendation for fans of "Life of Pi"
October 7, 2009 10:39 AM   Subscribe

I need a book recommendation for my girlfriend; her favourite book is Yann Martel's "Life of Pi". Any ideas?

Pretty self explanatory, her birthday is this Saturday so I was thinking of getting her a new book (amongst other things). I know "White Tiger" is often recommended for fans of "Life of Pi" but for some reason she didn't really like that one (sorry, I don't know exactly why it didn't work for her - I don't think she explicity disliked it, but it didn't hold her interest either).

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by mizike to Writing & Language (28 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
The Poisonwood Bible
posted by diogenes at 10:42 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If it helps, I'm just starting Life of Pi, based on me telling someone I really liked "The Time Traveler's Wife" and their subsequent recommendation.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:43 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

i loved that book. i also really enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Not that they're necessarily very similar, though.
posted by penchant at 10:49 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I liked Life of Pi, but not for the first 80 pages or so. I actually almost put it down in that time.

However, books that I really like...that are sort of kinda a little like that...are The Littlest Prince and Johnathan Livingston Seagull.

And a lot of other eccentric stuff too, but those pop out.
posted by TomMelee at 10:51 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Carroll has a similarly gentle yet didactic tone, with a fantastic edge. She might like Sleeping in Flame.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:53 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Kavalier and Clay, you also might try Helen DeWitt's "The Last Samurai."
posted by vito90 at 10:53 AM on October 7, 2009

Best answer: Try The Stone Raft, by Jose Saramago, or The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino. In the first, the Iberian peninsula suddenly floats off into the Atlantic, and in the second the main character decides to live his life entirely in the treetops. Both are imaginative stories which deal with some of the same themes as Life of Pi. They're two of my all-time favourite books.
posted by oulipian at 10:55 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

One Hundred Years of Solitude
posted by marsha56 at 10:59 AM on October 7, 2009

Bookseer recommends many of the above and more here.
posted by snap_dragon at 11:04 AM on October 7, 2009

Best answer: Nthing the Time Travellers Wife as a romantic present. Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing is a non-fiction book about her travels in Iran. Apparently her travel companion was Martel. They began as boyfriend-girlfriend, their relationship unraveled during the trip but it is not even mentioned in the book (a friend had to come to her bookclub and heard that from Wearing herself). It is a very interesting book and your girlfriend may like that connection. She may also like A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry but that is a pretty huge tome. For some reason, I would also throw in the Curious Incident of the Dog in the nighttime (Haddon) or Lovely Bones (Sebold). Also, the graphic novel of Louis Riel by Chester Brown is fantastic and facinating and has the same themes of alternate realities as Life of Pi. Lost in a good book by Jasper Fforde is on my to-read list. Sorry I can't add links for you!
posted by saucysault at 11:24 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Nor can I preview - me and bookseer agree!
posted by saucysault at 11:26 AM on October 7, 2009

Except bookseer recommends the Kite Runner, whereas I think a Thousand Splendid Suns from the same author is a better match.
posted by saucysault at 11:28 AM on October 7, 2009

Best answer: Here are a few magic-realismy things that I liked (in addition to Life of Pi):

- Jorge Luis Borges' Ficciones is a collection of short stories rather than a novel, but it's absolutely wonderful.
- Italo Calvino is awesome; I really liked If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
- seconding The Time Traveler's wife
- Kavalier & Clay is good, but I don't really think it's that similar (it also drags at the end). I preferred The Yiddish Policeman's Union, also by Chabon, but that's even less similar. His debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, is maybe more similar and also quite fun.
- Maybe Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer?
posted by goingonit at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh I'm so happy to see someone else recommend Jonathan Carroll! I am so in love with this man's books. And I loved Life of Pi too, so maybe.... that means she will like JC's stuff. The Marriage of Sticks was amazing. Very beautiful, unusual, romantic, scary, exciting stuff.
posted by silverstatue at 11:41 AM on October 7, 2009

Everything is Illuminated
posted by Windigo at 11:53 AM on October 7, 2009

Response by poster: Wow you guys work fast, thanks for all the great suggestions. I think I might try "The Time Traveller's Wife" due to all the recommendations (it has been recommended to both me and her in other contexts as well). "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is a great suggestion as well but she's read that one, "The Stone Raft" piqued my interest but I don't quite think that would work as she walked out of the movie "Blindness" (based on Saramago's book). I'll definitely mark down some Borges and Calvino to check out later on.

Thanks for the link to, but I must say, some of their suggestions were a bit out there. "Moby Dick"? Really? I've read both books and I couldn't think of anything *less* similar to "Life of Pi" than "Moby Dick" (well, the ocean featured prominantly in both I guess) Ditto for a few others but "Moby Dick" was the one that really stood out.
posted by mizike at 11:57 AM on October 7, 2009

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. It's got a lot of the same kind of blurring of the mundane and the sublime/supernatural that are present in Life of Pi, plus it has similarities in the setting and protagonist (a young boy growing up in India).

Also, Midnight's Children doesn't sucker-punch you with a Moral Of The Story at the end, so that's a plus.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2009

I really liked life of pi. I just finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Loved it. I don't know any chick who hasn't liked Time Traveler's Wife.
posted by delladlux at 12:39 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Both The Yiddish Policeman's Union and Nathan Englander's The Ministry of Special Cases have the same ambiguous endings in relation to Life of Pi, though are possibly less fantastical than Pi.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:02 PM on October 7, 2009

Douglas Coupland's "girlfriend in a coma" is super, and wouldn't know why but I recon people who liked life of pi would love this one too even if quite different.

From the same author, microserfs is a brilliant read. Laughs and tears.
posted by madeinitaly at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2009

i loved Life of Pi, and i loved pretty much all of Douglas Coupland, but i came in here to say Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "100 Years of Solitude". it's already been said, though, so i guess i'm really here to reinforce that. there's a certain quality that both books share, and Marquez is a master.
posted by radiosilents at 2:09 PM on October 7, 2009

If she liked Life of Pi and 100 Years of Solitude, you might check out Chronicle of a Death Foretold. It's more Marquez. I read it in Spanish my first time through, and while my Spanish is pretty poor, I still enjoyed that a little bit more than the English translation, which was still great.

Has she read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison? Or The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin? These are both very different, and both in many ways about race in America, but for some reason I think they might be a good fit.

I've had a tough time with a lot of Rushdie, but Haroun and the Sea of Stories was excellent.

Maybe some Murakami? I can only pledge for The Windup Bird Chronicles and The Elephant Vanishes, but I have some more waiting on my shelf.
posted by hue at 3:39 PM on October 7, 2009

Bel Canto - Ann Patchet
Elegance of the Hedgehog - Murial Barbery
posted by srboisvert at 5:54 PM on October 7, 2009

I loved Life of Pi and 100 Years of Solitude and have a copy of The Yiddish Policeman's Union that I haven't really gotten around to reading yet, so I probably have somewhat similar tastes to what's being mentioned in this thread.

People have talked about Calvino (an author I've been meaning to get into), so I figured I'd recommend a book by someone who was influenced a lot by Calvino: Jedediah Berry's The Manual of Detection. It's sort of noir-influenced magical realism -- I absolutely loved it.
posted by malthas at 6:53 PM on October 7, 2009

I'd second Bel Canto.
posted by of strange foe at 8:51 PM on October 7, 2009

I absolutely second Middlesex.
posted by infinityjinx at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2009

I also really liked Time Traveler's Wife.
And another, The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell. It has as themes religion, language, and relationships - it is one of the best books I've ever read.
posted by mazienh at 6:05 PM on October 8, 2009

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